Steve Bonspiel, Mohawk, reflects on why many First Nation people won't celebrate Canada's sesquicentennial birthday

 We stand here, in Kahnawake, Kanesatake, Akwesasne, Wahta, Six Nations and Tyendinaga, in a country called Canada where promises continue to be broken, in spite of the fact we were instrumental in repelling American attacks during numerous wars, and in helping to make Canada what it is today.

We are rarely recognized for our important tactical military role. We were never given what was promised and we were never, after all of the turmoil and upheaval, after the wars were done and the European powers that be were friends again, left alone.

We do not have power over our own land and we cannot exercise true sovereignty on our own territory. We do not officially own the land. Title still rests, even if you pay a large sum of money for it and build your own home on it, with the Crown.

When the British North America Act was passed on July 1, 1867 (celebrated now as Canada Day), this country still fell heavily under Britain's thumb. It gave title to a state, not a country, and as long as that settler state holds all of the cards — especially one called the Indian Act — we will never attain true sovereignty.

We want access to our traditional pursuits of hunting and fishing, control over our vast natural resources, and title to our own land.

We want a place we can grow, expand, and live like we used to; free of the colonial chains of oppression and control.

It's a mechanism that benefits them primarily — the "just us" system — and there have been many opportunities to set the record straight and give land back to our communities and the people, but we have been let down time and again.

So, no, many Mohawks will not be celebrating 150 or 375, even if some of our people take back a little bit of money from the celebrations of a country that tried to destroy us. That's like inviting people into your house to blow out the birthday candles after they've kidnapped your child.

We may still be gathering strength as sovereign Onkwehón:we Nations and working our way back to our former glory, but many of us refuse to be complicit in our own demise.
Written By Steve Bonspiel Source


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