All too often settler people say to me, “The Algonquin have to get it together and stop being so divided”.
Although I am Algonquin Anishinaabe, a person does not have to be Algonquin to carry a critical thinking lens or framework in understanding that the issue with the denial of Algonquin rights, the destruction of our land, the pollution of the Ottawa River, and the destruction of our sacred places is in fact a settler issue and a settler government issue. It is not an Algonquin issue; not at all.
It is not too difficult to reason that here in what has become the nation state called Canada, settlers have benefited from colonization in enormous and lucrative ways; in more ways than the Algonquin have. Through the construction of Canada settler people have had greater access to Indigenous land and settlers have benefited more from the resources mined and pilfered from the land.
There are more settlers on Indigenous lands, and it is their settler government that continues to spend millions and millions of dollars to ensure the Algonquin remain in hardship, in poverty, and divided. Let’s face it, as long as the Algonquin remain divided Canada can, and will, blame us for the very divide Canada has manufactured ‒ again through the resources pilfered from Indigenous land.
Through the settler court system, from the 1973 Calder decision through to the 2017 Tsilhoqot’in decision, Indigenous people have won the recognition for our rights yet Canada continues to deny these rights to us.
Indigenous people have also placed their bodies on the land over and over and over again.
It is about time settler people stop with the practice of blaming Algonquin people for the ongoing desecration and pollution of the land and water that we all need; trees and animals included. Said another way, the time is ripe for settlers to stop blaming Algonquin ancestors and fellow Algonquin who walk the earth today for what their ancestors did and their current settler government continues to do to the Four Orders of Creation.
Too many so called friends and acquaintances continually say ignorant things to me over and over again about the Algonquin. They blame us. This has to stop. Settlers, you own this situation. It is time for you to put your bodies on the land and on the line. Mortgage your homes; sell you summer homes too; then there is the content of those homes, it can all go too. Really serve the cause. You can do this. Whatever steps you take to generate the change you seek and the change we all need, stop with the excuse of blaming on the Algonquin for the continued pilfering of the land that you mostly benefit from.
Settlers stop externalizing your responsibility. Settlers, you own this; not the Algonquin Anishinaabeg.
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
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