To First Nations People

The left painting (by Fanny Aishaa) is based on the right photograph of an Elsipogtog woman at an anti-fracking protest in New Brunswick. Source: http://blogwest.org/2013/10/28/the-new-manifest-destiny-a-brief-political-history-of-the-idle-no-more-movement/

I wrote the following letter/poem to Canada’s First Nations people. I am a first-generation, Muslim Canadian woman of Palestinian origin.

“To First Nations People”

This is for the missing and murdered Indigenous women.
To the victims of settler-colonial violence.
To residential school survivors.
To the land defenders.

How little we settlers know what it is to be colonized,
even after all this time.

I am a settler,
a privileged settler.
for my water,
my air,
my education,
my health,
has been placed above yours.

I am a settler,
a first-generation Canadian,
one still yearning,
still learning,
how little I still grasp your diversity,
your beauty,
your histories,
your courage.

Four-hundred years of resilience,
four-hundred years of endurance,
how much we settlers can learn,
for it is not you who isolates,
but it is ourselves.

Your histories precede colonialism,
but ours do not.

Our existence,
continued persistence,
is colonialism,
the fuel of extinction,
money is the epitome
the god of the land.

There are no words to describe
the crime of genocide
inflicted upon your peoples,
and dispossessed throughout times.

I grew up not knowing
the names of your nations
I grew up not knowing
not feeling
not thinking
what it would be
if you had complete sovereignty
would we be where we are now,
unable to see?
unable to hear,
and how the earth pleads?

We can never be who we say we are
until we are all free.
Free of poverty,
environmental destruction,
and racism.

May we learn how to heal.

Sincerely,

A settler of Palestinian origin,
A daughter of the colonized,
Related to victims of Israeli colonialism,
To victims of Israeli apartheid.

————————————————————————————————————————————-

“When Christopher Columbus landed in North America not one Native person was in prison, because there were no prisons.  We had laws and order because law was written in the hearts and minds and souls of the people and when justice had to be applied it was tempered with mercy.  The laws came from the ceremonies which were given by the spirit people, the invisible ones.  As a people we were less than perfect as all other people are, but we had no prisons because we didn’t need them.  We knew how to live and we also knew how not to live.” –Art Solomon

“The Seventh Prophet that came to the people long ago was said to be different from the other prophets. This prophet was described as “young and had a strange light in his eyes” and said:

In the time of the Seventh Fire New People will emerge. They will retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will take them to the Elders who they will ask to guide them on their journey. But many of the Elders will have fallen asleep. They will awaken to this new time with nothing to offer. Some of the Elders will be silent because no one will ask anything of them. The New People will have to be careful in how they approach the Elders. The task of the New People will not be easy.

If the New People will remain strong in their quest the Water Drum of the Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice. There will be a rebirth of the Anishinabe Nation and a rekindling of old flames. The Sacred Fire will again be lit.

It is this time that the light skinned race will be given a choice between two roads. If they choose the right road, then the Seventh Fire will light the Eighth and final Fire, an eternal fire of peace, love brotherhood and sisterhood. If the light skinned race makes the wrong choice of the roads, then the destruction which they brought with them in coming to this country will come back at them and cause much suffering and death to all the Earth’s people.”  –William Commanda

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