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This Land is Our Land: The Case for KanataKevin D. Annett Salem-News.com
Long before the first aboriginal woman or child in “Canada” was slaughtered by my people, the same thing was done to our own ancestors back in Europe, and by the same Empire.
(NANAIMO, Vancouver Island) - Last week, the first dozen of us on the west coast who are pledged to a new deal for everyone in our land met in a small café in Vancouver’s east end. We started dreaming together, which is what colonized people do before they can take any real steps towards breaking centuries-old shackles.
Free your mind and your ass will follow, to quote a character from Platoon.
The Irish bard James Joyce knew that, which is why, when once asked about the odd, rambling and unconscious tone of his novels, he replied,
“I write from the place of dreams, which is the one thing in us the English were never able to conquer.”
If we don’t begin from within our own dreams, we end up echoing the hopes and plans of others: and specifically, our oppressors. That’s why it truly stuns me how so very, very few of the political freedom fighters I’ve known over forty years have kept free of the mindset of that which they fought, and which has eventually assimilated them because of it.
Long before the first aboriginal woman or child in “Canada” was slaughtered by my people, the same thing was done to our own ancestors back in Europe, and by the same Empire. The butchery came first, for that’s how kings and popes have always softened up their targets, and broken their capacity to resist. But the worse crime followed the smallpox and the gunboats, and that was done to our minds and our souls. We were made to love that which stole our land and our language, and killed our own children - and to work for its horror as if it was part of us.
I can’t claim to know how to even begin to undo such a long death, except by first remembering not only the hidden histories, but the submerged memory or who we all were, once, before we came to serve the corporate Moloch. And that memory persists in our dreams, on the very margins of our captive minds.
This was all understood implicitly the other night, when the dozen of us gathered to measure each other. We spoke of our different concerns – of a rising police state, of public health and chem trails, of slain and missing children and the churches responsible. But what shone through it all, unusually, was a will to find an answer that goes beyond merely reacting to the latest wrong, and to build something new. And that will found a single word: Reclamation.
I’ve spoken before about Kanata, the Republic of Equals that reclaims Canada by nullifying the false jurisdiction calling itself “the Crown of England” which claims to rule our land. I see this new Republic sprouting up all around me, unconsciously but persistently, in a thousand acts that seek to restore the earth and political power to an awakening people. But these impulses need to be united, and named, and given purpose and direction, if they are to be sustained in the gathering storm of global corporate fascism.
We on the west coast are blessed to have an ally in this effort, in the form of a slight and aging man named Kiapilano who lives in hiding. He barely survived torture at the hands of catholic priests at the Sechelt “Indian residential school” decades ago, for as a traditional indigenous family, he and his siblings were all targeted for extermination by the Crown and the Vatican. But Kiapilano survived, for it is his purpose to reclaim the land called “Vancouver” and beyond for his traditional Squamish nation.
I helped him do that in March of 2008, when he and I and fifty others, both pale and native, strode into three downtown Vancouver churches and posted a legal eviction order on their doors. Kiapilano has ordered the Crown and the Catholic, Anglican and United Church of Canada to get off his land, forever. Yet these child-killing churches continue to squat illegally on Squamish Nation land and thereby defy international law and morality, with the help of every deluded taxpayer in “Canada”.
“We need a new framework for all our work” said someone at our gathering last week. “And Chief Kiapilano has given it to us. He’s extended a hand to everyone in Canada to join his nation and undo the crimes of our own culture. For we can’t put Canada and its churches on trial for genocide within the present status quo, any more than we can save our children or our planet by asking the system to change. We are that change.”
In league with Kiapilano, we’re taking direct action to withdraw our allegiance to Canada. We’re not paying taxes or giving our votes to the government anymore. We’re cutting up our credit cards, closing our bank accounts, and investing our funds in our own communities. We’re reclaiming the banished churches with direct occupations to open these places to the homeless. We’re seizing old buildings and the land itself. And it’s all being done within the new framework we call Kanata, which recognizes the sovereignty of Kiapilano’s nation as an equal partner.
One of the symbols of this grassroots revolution is a citizenship card, which has been printed in the pages of the Agora. It grants the bearer, as a declared citizen of the republic of Kanata, to free and unlimited access to the requirements of life anywhere in our land, including free housing, transportation, medicine, education, food and water. For those our inherent, natural rights under the common law.
You can start acting like a free man and woman by presenting this card whenever you get on a bus or walk into a store. Do it peacefully and up front, for we have nothing to hide. We are reclaiming what has been stolen from all of us to profit the few.
I call that letting our shackled memory and submerged dreams take wing. Others call it common sense, or true sovereignty. Call it what you will. The important thing is to act on such a vision, and on your own; for in this way, you will have created another pillar of the new society within the shell of the old, crumbling regime all about us.
We’re planning public forums and actions throughout the summer and fall to help stir up this righteous foment. Watch for more in these pages!
A Canadian clergyman, Kevin Annett has for nearly twenty years led the movement to bring to light and prosecute atrocities in Christian “Indian residential schools”, and win justice for survivors. Expelled in 1995 from his former United Church of Canada for exposing murders in that church’s Indian residential schools, and persecuted and blacklisted for his efforts, Kevin is now an award-winning film maker, author, social activist and public lecturer who works with victims of church violence and genocide all over the world. In 2009, he helped to establish the five-nation International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State, which is seeking to indict church and government leaders for crimes against humanity.
As a result of Kevin’s tireless efforts on behalf of native people, the Canadian government was forced to issue a public “apology” and reparations program concerning Indian residential schools, in July of 2008. In giving him the name Eagle Strong Voice in 2007, Anishinabe elder Louis Daniels declared, “Kevin Annett is doing what few of his people have done, and that is to speak about the crimes they committed against many of our nations and their children. He has earned a place forever in our hearts and history. He is a brave and prophetic man. I ask everyone to welcome him and heed his voice.” And scholar Noam Chomsky wrote in 2006, “Kevin Annett is more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than many of those who have received it.”
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