Recently I was interviewed about my work. Below is a excerpt of the text from the interview. To listen to this entire interview here is the link to the video production.
1. Lynn, what drew you into the work of social change in your life and specifically in this community?
The issues I work on are intergenerational issues that I was born into. And they are national issues, not just local; they travel with me everywhere I go, in my feet, in my body, in my heart, and in my nightmares. They have always been there; Canada is determined to cage my heart, my mind, my body, and my agency. I am sure that I will die with them and from them.
Right now I am working on three main issues:
First, the Algonquin land claims process that continues to force Indigenous Nations to extinguish our land and resource rights. The Algonquin Anishinaabeg are not a nation without our land for our citizens; we are not a nation without our resources needed to build our institutions such as schools and courts according to our tradition.
Many know that Canada’s parliament buildings squat on Algonquin territory. The Algonquin are being forced into extinguishing our land rights in exchange for accepting 1.3% of our traditional territory and accepting a $300 million buy-out. This is not nation-to-nation and this is not reconciliation.
Second, I also work on the issue of the never-ending sex discrimination in the Indian Act. Although the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is celebrated by Canadians, it is meaningless to Indigenous women and girls. In 1985 when Canada was telling Canadians and the rest of the world that they were removing the sex discrimination, it was a lie. What Canada did was remove a provision in the Indian Act that protected Indigenous children and then through this carefully crafted silence began to assume all unknown / unstated fathers were white. In the worst case scenario, what resulted was young girls who did not even have the legal right to consent to sex were being further harmed by Indian Affairs and Northern Canada’s (INAC) unstated paternity policy.
INAC and the Department of Justice spent $1 million defending its unstated paternity policy. While Canada had deep pockets from colonizing Algonquin land and resources I have to grovel for gas money in the work I do.
The third issue I work on is the continued destruction of Akikodjiwan located in the Ottawa River just upstream from Canada’s Parliament buildings. Akikodjiwan is a sacred land and waterscape where Creator placed the First Sacred Pipe, the ultimate symbol and ritual of reconciliation. While people here in Peterborough, and rightly so, readily threw their arms up in the air in disgust when the Mosque was vandalized, for the most part refugee, settler, and Canadian people are not rallying around the need to protect Indigenous sacred places.
Lynn Gehl, Ph.D. is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley. In 2017 she won an Ontario Court of Appeal case on sex discrimination in The Indian Act, and is an outspoken critic of the Algonquin land claims process. Recently she published Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit. You can reach her through, and see more of her work, at www.lynngehl.com
Do you like my work and want to support it? Contact me here.
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