“When the settler community denies us our sacred place, then I must wonder if they even regard us as human beings.” Albert Dumont
Kwey Senator and Chair Lillian Dyck, Senator and Deputy Chair Scott Tannas, and all members of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal People (APPA),
As many know, one of the main differences between Indigenous people and most if not all settler Canadians and our knowledge philosophies is that Indigenous people value the original dream of the Creator and Creator’s natural law. Another way to understand this difference is to value that Indigenous assumptions, beliefs, knowledge, teachings, and rituals are intentionally and consciously designed around natural models and features. This serves to keep us rooted within the naturalistic tradition. In short, the naturalistic tradition places natural law at its core where humans are placed within the context of all the other beings.
The naturalistic tradition is different from the humanistic tradition. The humanistic tradition places humans above the natural world and above all the other beings. This includes all of humanity’s creations such as governance and economic traditions. They are not designed to work with Creation; rather they are designed to control and monopolize Creation. While humans are smart beings and we are able to create amazing things with the gift of our mind, our egos and blind selfishness of the paramount importance of the natural world, and that humans too readily default to, is our own worst enemy. This is what is meant by the Anishinaabe philosophy and saying, ‘humans are pitiful’.
As we all know the humanistic tradition and inventions that emerge from it is devastating our collective land and waterscapes, so much so that our water is polluted with layers and layers of different kinds of pollution: debris such as plastic and other forms of garbage; chemicals such as organic compounds like dioxins, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals; sewage and biological waste; and radioactive particles. Again, this is the result of human beings placing their needs over and above all the beings within the natural world.
The problem is that most people are suffering from ‘cognitive paradigm paralysis’, meaning they are unable to think conceptually about the paradigm they live within, and thus unable to think critically about the limitations of their paradigm ‒ the humanistic paradigm ‒ and value that there is a better more intelligent option waiting for them to shift into. The culprit is the pitifulness of human cognition.
A telling example of people’s inability to understand that they are stuck within the irrational humanistic tradition / paradigm is the fact that when a brick and mortar Church, Mosque, or Synagogue is damaged, people are disgusted and outraged and they call it a hate crime; yet when a natural Indigenous sacred place such as Akikodjiwon and Akikpautik located within the natural world of the land and waterscape of the Ottawa River is further desecrated these same people are unable to shift conceptually and value that this too is a hate crime. This inability continues to harm Indigenous people as well as all people and Creation.
Akikodjiwon and Akikpautik are the very land and waterscapes where Creator placed the First Sacred Pipe, the ultimate ritual and ceremony of reconciliation. The Spirit of the West Wind gifted his son Nanaboozo with the Sacred Pipe for fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and citizens of all nations to assist in reconciliation. Sadly, Akikodjiwon and Akikpautik are slated for further desecration through the construction of Windmill’s condominium and retail complex. This is happening just upstream from Parliament Hill.
As many know I have been on a long learning journey piecing together what Canada has done, and continues to do, to Indigenous peoples. What I know for sure is the most effective way to destroy a people is to destroy their sacred beliefs, stories, and places. It is an abomination that the further desecration of this sacred place of reconciliation is happening during the time of the Liberal government’s reconciliation platform.
You are likely more familiar with my recent work challenging the sex discrimination in the Indian Act. Over the last few years I have also been working with allies from Free the Falls and Stop Windmill and Indigenous people and Elders regarding the need to respect Akikodjiwon and Akikpautik. We are at a loss about where to turn and so I turn to members of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal People.
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