Written Text of Letter to the Governor General’s Wife

I decided to post my letter as not everyone will want to listen to a radio show (per the below post).  I want it out there in the world. This is my prayer for Mother Earth, for Canada, for my people, and for all people and I am honoured to share it with you in any form.


January 30, 2013

Excellency: Dear Mrs. Sharon Johnston,

I am honoured and hopeful to share my poem with you about the Idle No More movement and about the plight of First Nations and our sacred Mother Earth.

It wasn’t long ago that I was honoured to share with you another poem when you came to visit us back in March, 2012. That day I shared a poem that described my love and admiration for nature and I appreciated your positive comments, and that you are also a lover of nature.

That’s why I hope you can understand the strong passion that is behind the poem that I wrote, and I hope I do not assume too much to ask that you please also accept this letter. I feel strongly that nature is at stake here – Nature; my only ever true, loyal and most constant dear friend that has carried me through many a dark time.

I love Canada and that I am a First Nations Canadian. I am not a status Indian yet I lived the same terrible legacy from my ancestors going through the Indian residential school system that many status First Nations live; scars that I carry today and work daily to heal from. Yet I support Idle No More regardless.

Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 is not being followed; First Nations treaties are not being honoured as the omnibus bill and over a dozen other pieces of legislation have been passed into law without any discussion or consultation with First Nations.

Since joining INM, I have and continue to encounter more racism for being First Nations, than I have my entire life. The ignorance of the true history of Canada and of First Nations is rampant in our country and as long as it remains, I fear this negative situation will continue and worsen.

When I went through the education system we didn’t learn the history of my people. The most we learned was to touch on the Métis and the rebellion. Canada is a great country for reaching out and embracing all nations and cultures, supporting diversity, but in our own back yard, First Nations are being left out in the cold, and as long as this gap in our education system remains, I feel the racism I describe will continue to flourish.

Three mandatory United Nations reviews conducted in 2012 all found “very serious human rights challenges facing Indigenous peoples” in Canada, per an Amnesty International report released in December, 2012.

They are concerned over the situation with First Nations in Canada as are many other people all around the world including academics, Greenpeace, aboriginals in other countries, et al and thus the support is growing for Idle No More because of these grave concerns.

Too many First Nations people are living in third world conditions in our country, some on reserves where the cost of groceries and other supplies can be as high as twenty times the rate in the rest of Canada.

Canada was one of only 4 countries to try to vote against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when 144 states endorsed it, and it took years for it to be accepted here. It hurts me greatly that we have over 700 missing and murdered First Nations women in Canada that the government will no longer fund the investigation for.

Canada rates high on the United Nation’s Human Development index at #6 but when First Nations are factored into the calculation, Canada drops down to somewhere around a ranking of #67. I feel all of these points say a lot about the relationship between the Harper government and First Nations in Canada.

I am saddened at the racist/biased reporting on Idle No More that is dominating mainstream media as it is creating great misunderstandings on very complex issues as well as taking the focus off of the matters that are most important to the movement such as protecting the land, water, First Nations treaty rights and culture.

I am further saddened to read in the news this evening how two of the CP government’s conservative caucus (an elected MP and a senator) were saying disparaging statements about Chief Theresa Spence while attending a party. One went so far as to comment on her physical appearance. This is hardly what one would expect from appointed/elected officials representing our country and Her Majesty the Queen.

To clarify, Chief Spence is not the leader of Idle No More as we are a grassroots movement and thus we have no leaders. But her starving and dying every day of her 44 day hunger strike was an example of what is happening on the reserves and to my people – My people are dying.

I find it very difficult to comprehend how any one can make such cruel, racist, misogynist remarks, about a woman that was so desperate about the state of affairs on many First Nations reservations in Canada that she was prepared to lay down her life for it.

The media shifted the focus off of the causes of the movement and tried to discredit her. I understand that the average Canadian does not understand the spiritual significance of the act of fasting (as she did for 44 days), nor that it was an act for not only her children, but your children and for all children, as we consider seven generations forward when making decisions per our ancient teachings.

I am thankful her hunger strike has ended and I hope the Aboriginal 13 point Declaration of Commitment that the opposition parties signed will be fulfilled. Idle No More continues and has to continue since Harper will not even acknowledge the Idle No More movement or any of the many issues mentioned.

I read in the news tonight that in parliament this week, when he listed the priorities for Canada, he made no mention of First Nations. I fear he will continue to ignore us, and my people will continue to suffer, and our sacred mother earth will not be protected, negatively impacting ALL Canadians.

Many people don’t realize that clean water also impacts the air we breathe since the earth constantly cycles back water from the land, out to the ocean and back again. So if people are not concerned about the toxic water that exists on many First Nations reserves today (some in the 7th year of boil water advisory) since they feel assured it won’t impact them, they are wrong. That water could seep into the ground water and thus into the aquifers that we all need to get good, clean drinking water from.

That toxic water is absorbed into the land and the air we breathe and cycles out into our precious oceans that support myriad life and again, cycles back to the land to become water we drink. So this issue isn’t only out on remote First Nations reserves, this impacts Canada and the oceans that impact the world. But for now, sadly, it is out of sight and out of mind for most Canadians.

However, with the omnibus bill C45 being passed into law, we no longer have protection for our waters. Provincial governments will now be able to make major decisions impacting all of Canada (since we all drink water and we all breathe) and the voting system being forced onto reserves ensures that anyone that shows up to vote on an issue can decide the entire fate of the reservation – that could be just a few people with the new laws. This, even in spite of the fact that many do not receive notices of such events.

In my humble opinion, it is not right that the government put through laws having huge impacts on First Nations, and when it comes to waters and thus the air, all Canadians. So this is where INM is coming from.

I am excited about the INM movement as I hope it will raise awareness in Canada to the plight of my people and educate them on the true history of our country. I don’t believe we can move forward until we have looked back and until all people embrace and acknowledge the truth. I am so glad the movement has opened up dialogue with people and hope it will one day open dialogue with the government.

Many dismiss requests for His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada to be present at meetings but I know that many First Nations feel it is very important that there is Crown representation at ANY discussions since they hold in great respect, honour and trust, the treaties that were entered into with the Crown and it would mean so much to them. I believe it would go a long way in restoring their faith that the government is serious and ready to work together, and to finally acknowledge First Nations, were he to attend.

INM has given new life to my people. I have seen little kids supporting and learning the ancient ways and languages as it has revitalized our communities. I have been moved to tears to see the public flash mob round dances; to hear the drum beat that connects us with mother earth’s heartbeat; to listen to the wisdom at the teach-ins.

There is a lot of healing going on. I’ve never witnessed pride in my people, in our culture and for being First Nations as I have since INM. I have read stories of youth (at greatest risk for suicide) that feel proud to be First Nations for the first time in their lives and I have seen elder grand parents go out in the freezing cold weather to take part in round dances and peacefully demonstrate. It’s really wonderful to see and I feel these positive changes will only continue!

If I could envision a Canada that I would be proud of, it would be one in true unity, honouring all people; one wherein all people (including my First Nations brothers and sisters) would have good, affordable housing, healthy affordable food, clean/free water, access to affordable health care and to a good education.

These are basic human rights and a country as rich and prosperous as Canada, one blessed with so many natural resources and an amazingly diverse population, should not allow anything less.

I hold hope for my dream for Canada. I give thanks to Creator that you will receive and read my poem, and I hope; this letter. I pray and hope in the deepest roots of my heart, that if there is anything you can do to help the plight facing Fist Nations in Canada and our sacred mother earth, that you will do whatever you can.

I thank Your Excellency for your time and consideration.

Yours Sincerely,
Clear Wind Blows Over the Moon

<<Revised to remove the many ‘Your Excellencies’ and a few other minor tweaks>>


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