Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"As Algonquin people, it's our time"

There is a traffic slow down today in my community, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, to raise awareness about First Nations education, particularly our right to post-secondary student support.

Did anyone know that? My guess is no.

My community is doing such amazing things these days, including being behind the First Nations Education Week & Rally in September, but I didn't see or hear much about the slow down in national or local news outlets. The closest I came to seeing exposure for K.Z.'s slow down was in an article about the slow down on the highway 17 near Garden River First Nation (the other kitchi sibi, funnily enough)/Sault Ste. Marie. I was happy to see that there was an article in the Toronto Sun, but slightly depressed to read the last line: "The Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec is also planning a slowdown Tuesday on the same issues."

My Dad is attending this slow down. When I went to my parents' house (in the city) for Sunday dinner and he mentioned it, I asked, "Did they issue a media advisory for it? What's the point in doing something to raise awareness if you don't get the word out?" (Obviously, I made an assumption between the first and second questions.)

"I don't know," my Dad replied, each word its own sentence. "Last year they contracted a white guy to do that stuff."

I do my best to stay out of rez politics. Of course, like anyone else, I enjoy hearing the latest goss, particularly around election time. But I don't find the need to scrutinize every decision that comes out of the band office.

As I returned home to my apartment after dinner, I found myself drifting off into a fantasy about doing freelance communications work for my band. It wouldn't be that difficult to put together a contact list of local media persons who have interest in these things and throw together a media advisory for distribution. Hell, my friend Howard is doing archival research for his band for free.

I have to do more. Something is compelling me to. I may not be good at a lot of things, but with a B.A. in communications, certainly I can help in this little way? I want the world to know about my cousin Bee's thoughts and what it means for it to be our time as Algonquin people. I want them to know that in our community it is a big deal that we unveiled this awesome billboard shaming the government. I want them to know what it means when we say we have a right to education.

I WANT TO SHOUT IT OFF ROOFTOPS! And, unfortunately, my blog just isn't quite loud enough.

1 comment:

  1. I so wish your blog was loud enough sister! I am of Algonquin descent on my dad's side. I understand the essential role of education in general and post-secondary in particular. I am a grad philosophy student and when I say education I understand philosophy for all the things it can bring to an individual. I think it is a vital component for a well functioning society as, I believe, it is one of the few ways to become a real human being (or Anishishnabe?), and that is for one to truly possess its own mind. Our mind is the only real thing we can really have in this life and it is being controlled for us, then we are being reduced to not much. To me, the first human right is exactly that, the right to be a human being, which is to have the power of our own mind. I particularly advocate education/philosophy for Native people as so much was taken from them that this is the best path to attain empowerment and, hopefully some day, self-governance. I am really sad that my own Algonquin heritage was taken away from me just for the reason that it does not comply with what is thought desirable in our Canadian society. Freedom seems to be the desirable thing. However, I do not believe any of us can be free as long as our minds are being controlled for us. Freedom starts within our self and the way to get it is through education.