This weekend, I had the opportunity to visit our traditional homelands in Lowbush, nestled in the bush by the river streamsing from Lake Abitibi, or as we now say "where the Spruce meet the Birch trees" (tryna sound all Nish, chhh @blackl2.) We fished, explored, did ceremony, and most importantly... laughed!
I couldn't help but run barefoot.
The cold but smooth rocks, the clay, the water, and grass between my toes just felt so comforting... so natural! Knowing that my relatives and even ancestors from looong ago walked on this same territory. It's what made the connection so strong- as I reclaimed a sense of belonging, purpose, and identity. Something my soul has been so hungry for, all along.
The beauty of Abitibi is unexplainable.
And it makes me proud to be an Abitibi Nish Woman, surrounded by beautiful relatives from the same powerful bloodline.
We are Abitibi People!
But... I was also pained.
To see so many non-indigenous peoples on the land, who fail to acknowledge us Abitibi People, our ancestors, and the land- who graciously provides us sustinence of life. To have such beautiful Abitibi territory spoiled, as they bring along bad intentions, no respect for OUR Great Laws, and complex systems- that have been in place for thousands of years.
This is clear through the noise, alcohol, trash, ignorance, and sense of ownership that was seen during my visit.
As a community, we are now dealing with legal issues arising from companies claiming ownership of our land *without permission* and expecting to make profit off Abitibi territory. In these moments, I can't help but wonder... *Where is Reconciliation? *Where is Equality?
*Where is Respect for Indigenous Peoples and Self-Determination?
We pray for the safety of the territory and the healing of our people.
We stand strong, together.
With the grass between our toes, the clay and the sand.
We are connected to the land.
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