Mohawks Perform The Smoke Dance National Aboriginal Day 2013 (Video)
Male and female Mohawk dancers perform a Smoke Dance together during National Aboriginal Day celebrations at Place Jacques Cartier in Old Montreal on the Summer Solstice Friday June 21, 2013.
They whistled, beat drums, sang and waved an array of flags as they brought lunchtime traffic to a halt on the bridge connecting Ottawa and Gatineau, Que. Some carried signs that read “A sacred journey for future generations” and “A walk for unity.”
Activists say the march marks the beginning of a “Sovereignty Summer, which is an offshoot of the Idle No More movement that encompasses other aboriginal groups.
The Idle No More cause, which began in December and January, was a protest against the Conservative government’s omnibus Bill C-45, which First Nations groups claim threatens their treaty rights set out in the Constitution.
Many of those same frustrations were on full display Friday as the crowd gathered on the lawn of Parliament Hill, the empty scaffolding and stage for the coming Canada Day festivities looming behind them.
“You’ve journeyed from many miles, you’ve come here together in unity with your heart and spirit to raise an awareness that we are a people, we have been here since time immemorial,” said hereditary leader Claudette Commanda. “You do this on behalf of your youth and those that are not here yet.
“And it is a powerful message that you are giving to all of Canada and as well as to all of the world.”