By Danny Beaton Turtle, Clan Mohawk
Wednesday June 11, 2008: “Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools,” Harper said in Ottawa, surrounded by a small group of Aboriginal leaders and former students, some of whom wept as Harper spoke. “The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history. Today we recognize that policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm and has no place in our country,” Harper said to applause. Also in the audience were Chief Phil Fontaine, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, NDP Leader Jack Layton, and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.
Canada is going through some very challenging proposals pertaining to the economy, environment, Native rights, and western ideology’s “take it or leave it” attitude. The Prime Minister of Canada cannot open his mind to the possibility that the oil industry in Alberta is creating a wasteland, destroying huge rivers, polluting large tracts of Native and non-Native territories and affecting a way of life that has sustained generations. The policy of forcing oil pipelines through Native territories is no different than assimilation. Nothing seems to bother the Prime Minster of Canada pertaining to changing climate, global warming, or countless communiqués by scientists, academics, or doctors about the quality of earth, air, and water. We are, in fact, in a super crisis! The economy is a top priority, and Canada has always survived economic crisis in many shades of gray, but are we supposed to destroy Alberta in order to maintain an economy that destroys an earth economy? Are we to threaten Native and non-Native fishing on BC costal waters to supply a Chinese market? The prime minister ventured overseas to promise Canada’s Native resources for his own personal agenda! Or is it a fanatical quest to supply oil to whoever is highest bidder at Albertans expense?
Alberta’s waste is growing, with the run off of toxic chemicals and fumes over the Athabasca River and to the McKenzie River to the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean and below into sacred aquifers and into ecosystems across Canada. The prime minister supports an industry that is using roughly 3 gallons of pure clean water to produce 1 gallon of dirty oil for Canada’s Economy. How can Canada profit from an industry that is killing life, species, ecosystems, our air, water, and the earth whom we call Mother?
These questions need to be addressed because society is getting educated by the minute about growing climate change! Native leaders, elders, woman, children, chiefs, and clan mothers are united in saying that the pipelines can and will destroy everything that is clean and pure and their way of life! Natives claim their rivers, lakes, inlets, oceans, and aquifers are a supermarket for all life—not just humans—and we have a duty to speak out for our Relations!
Pipelines represent the same assault to us and Mother Earth as the clear cutting that took place when Native lands were sold for a buck an acre not even 200 years ago! If the prime minister does not listen to the Native people of the west coast regarding their environment, their homeland, their livelihood, their children’s future, their indigenous values, how can there be any difference between now and the atrocities Prime Minister Harper already apologized for in the House of Commons because of genocide committed during the Residential School Era.
West Coast Natives are saying no to pipelines and inland Natives are saying no to pipelines because it is a threat to all life on their territories; pipelines go against our way of life! It is time Canada said “No more oil pipelines” because we lived without them for hundreds of years. Canada needs a moratorium to stop all oil pipelines because Native rights are being violated, and all people’s rights are being violated! Human rights are being violated by oil companies! No law supersedes the voice of 100 West Coast Native Nations of Indigenous Territories on the west coast of Canada, and we Mohawks are a voice with our brothers and sisters out west! The Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of BC is a leader of his people and must be respected by all people of Canada if a disaster to the west coast is to be averted. Elder Edwin Newman of the Heiltsuk Nation British Columbia is asking environmentalists and concerned citizens to join Native people in this struggle to support life and stop the pipelines.
Life is too fragile now to be messing with the life giving forces! How can one man, the prime minister, dictate to 100 Nations (after already apologizing for cultural genocide) and threaten a way of life that has lasted for thousands of years even after so much suffering? We have survived resource extraction, land theft, residential school genocide, and countless human rights violations—now you want to finish us off with Exxon Valdez Oil Spills because you say so? We are hoping the USA will be forced to stop their insanity before there is a disaster from an oil spill there. This fossil fuel industry is just that: long past its expiration date! Will our children forgive us for the mistakes we knowingly make today that load an unbearable burden on them? Its time to stop spending billions on continued building of the gas and oil infrastructure, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline. The funds could be better spent on developing the many promising alternative energy sources that will lead to a better life for us, especially our children’s children.
Indigenous Peoples are fighting Enbridge Corporation, who is trying to buy off people so they can run a destructive business, and the people who should be helping us are on side with the negative profit-seekers who will stop at nothing to fuel an economy that goes against the Natural Economy of Mother Earth who can feed us while she is healthy and protected! Mother Earth can not feed us Humans when she has been raped and poisoned. We Humans are on a death road if Mother Earth is not respected and protected for all life to share. We Humans have no right to dictate to the natural world, Mother Earth, rivers, animals, fish life, winged ones, vegetation or people. And the prime minister is not a king over Native lands to ruin, spoil, threaten, or kill life! All the apologies do not mean a thing when you join the corporation that threatens us and all life on Native lands.
The oil industry is killing the Cree Nation, Dene Nation, McKennzie, and Athabascan rivers and much more! These are issues that must be taken into serious consideration because Mother Earth is being raped under the same western ideology that prevailed during the colonization of Canada. We as indigenous people have proved that family values, community values, and our nation’s values are tied with the protection of Mother Earth and our way of life with all life forms.
Prime Minister, if you do not listen to 100 West Coast Tribes and Nations, elders, woman, and children, would you ever listen to the Huron, Micmacs, Abenakis, Maliseet, Algonquin, Innu, Inuit, Blackfoot, Northern Cree, Métis, Ojibway, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora, or Mohawk? Mother Earth is trying to take care of us even while we hurt her, but her body needs to heal now! Thank you all for listening and supporting our Spiritual Leaders, Elders, Clan Mothers, and Chiefs! All My Relations!