By : Queen Sacheen
Hy’cheka Ciem, to the lekwungen and the Chiefs and Matriarchs of the people who’s land is hosting us this day! Ociem to your house and the fire within! umacla Xhopakelxhit, daughter of T’teyun, head of the house of Thunder and Lightning from the Musqueam xumulx. Wife to Gwaiina of the house of Seicthumalthnee, from the Ahousaht Ku us. We are grateful to be here, it is an honor truly and I ask our collective ancestors to protect us all! To be among the last of those speaking is a good thing, it means that those who stayed and persevered are the ones who need to hear our message the most, and may be the people we are looking for.
I will speak to the bigger picture. We know oil, gas, mining, logging, tankers, fish farms and consumerism are bad, awareness has been raised. Let’s quit wasting money on raising awareness and focus now, everyone who is willing to work on the answer is AWAKE! Intellectually and emotionally we KNOW, so where do we go from here? I don’t want to go home and feel good for a couple days about this, I want change! Real tangible change! Change that takes guts and sacrifice! That is the real reason why I am here. We, Ancestral Pride, want to be part of the solution. We, the land defenders, the grassroots movements of Indigenous people of British Columbia may have the beginning of an answer, but it would require radical reform from not only us but you, personally and also collectively, because doing these rallies and sit ins, repeatedly with the same results is insanity! We need to be allies and work together because they are winning! The Harper regime has signed away the rights of us all to the Chinese energy industry. His puppet Atleo is telling the Indigenous lies like energy is the new fur trade and to welcome all these industries in through our back door because we are unceded, and have no treaties to protect us. Right now there is nothing but YOU working with US to stop the all out THEFT OF THE FUTURE! Wake up and fight with us. Its our only hope for the coast!
Imagine if you, the sons and daughters of this corrupt society that is built on the backs of the Indigenous and slaves, gave up the privilege of being a part of the dominant consumer driven culture and stood behind us, decolonized with us, lived with us, if you did that then there is nothing that could stop us from achieving the change we all are desperately trying to be. Imagine if we give up on our addictions to that which harms us! Oppression, colonization, energy, money, greed, industrialization, and consumerism! We have made life an addiction to comfort and given that comfort the ultimate power and jurisdiction over life! The corporations and government is our dealer, and this is what allows pipelines, tankers, mining, and other industry its foot in the door to the west coast!
Division of us all is the tool that the government counts on to keep everyone under their thumb, division between the rich and poor, white people and people of color, division of the Indigenous with each other through the out dated model of elected chief and council, division that gives power to the few and oppresses the many. We need to abolish the division that makes us all powerless and diffuse! We are all fighting towards the same goal but afraid to work together because the government says do not! The government threatens us with cuts in funding if we work together! Its all ready happening anyways, funding has been cut across the board so who is really losing? Us. This division is how Harper is winning! Lets work together in a new way and under a people powered initiative to create a new framework for indigenous relations here in B.C. that empowers us all. In doing this we can effectively defend the coast.
Here in so-called British Columbia we are unceded territories, and discounting the modern treaties we are almost entirely treaty free except for here in Victoria – the Douglas Treaty, and in the northeast corner of the province under treaty 8. We also have the distinction of being the last of the wild west, the last really truly small parts of untouched purity in Canada, and what feels like the world. Ancient trees, pristine watersheds, glacial valleys, clean beaches. We never surrendered our rights to this land, or relinquished our governance over ourselves. This is something society needs to remember and acknowledge, our people were killed and then systematically oppressed so there can be rallies and demonstrations like this. This coast was stolen for your privilege.
We the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island have had a great injustice put upon us. We are forced to submit to the colonizing society, and then to hope that they have self control and will put systems in place to ensure that like us, the original and responsible people, there would be continuity of land, water, and air! Measures like our “uncivilized” ancestors took. Protocols, respect, and caretaking that ensured we would be here today. Hiishak Ish Tsawak= we are all one, connected. What we always knew as the peoples of this land and gave our lives to protect and uphold, Hiishak Ish Tsawak, we are all one, connected! A haahuupa is a teaching that we lived by for millennia in harmony with Mother Earth. It has taken sell out chiefs, and white dominated society a little over a hundred years to destroy it almost entirely. Defend our coast indeed!
While we the Indigenous are reeling from horrors worse then Hitler Germany, and suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the New World has been busy destroying the planet and then co-opting our lands and the rights to save it. Acknowledging and inviting Indigenous peoples to partake in a defensive action to “defend” that which is already ours, has been blatantly stolen, and then destroyed is a huge faux pas and an insult whose irony is not lost on me. If it weren’t for the mindless consuming of the colonizers that came to our lands and the greed and profiteering that came with them, we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. We managed since time immemorial to not only preserve, but to defend our coast just fine, thank you very much! This need to defend our coast, is a direct result of contact, because of industrialization, and civilization, we now need to defend our coast from people like you! Thank you for ensuring that the grassroots Indigenous movements were included in the whole process of planning to defend our coast and had a place of honour and consultancy in the organizing of this event and in your organizations.
The first people of this land have been defending our coast for millennia, and we were successful, successful because we were not afraid to defend our coast by any means necessary and we did not shy away from violence and in fact it was our most effective tool. Many may argue against the fact that we were civilized here on the west coast before contact because of this violence that was in fact not as bad as the violence in the old world. If one goes by the most basic requirements of civilization: military, agriculture, and economy, then we were amongst the most civilized and elite of all cultures on this planet, having highly evolved and intricate hierarchies that rival even the aristocracy of the British empire in protocol. Manifest destiny and the Doctrine of Discovery relies on the fact that we were not only uncivilized but also unevolved and therefore the genocide of our people and stealing of our lands was made easy and totally guilt free. When we did defend our coasts we were annihilated. Forgive us if we are a little apprehensive of the invitation to speak our truths and defend our coasts from those who took it from us.
There are many who reject the constructs of colonization and westernized society. Contact in B.C. is still relatively new compared to out east and in our living memories we hold the vestiges of autonomy and sovereignty, and are ready once again to defend OUR coast. Not for Canada, not to be a unesco approved biosphere, a park, part of crown lands, or even reservations, but for the hundred or so Sovereign Nations of our Sovereign Territories. We will save it with your help so we can finally and with distinction set precedent in B.C. Your governments and people didn’t take good care of this land, but we will, and for us all, so your children and ours can live! Defend our coast, so we can be empowered to answer the land question, as the people and without the corrupt treaty process, without Grand Thieves like Shawn Atleo. Without Harper and his regime, without power mad people like Christy Clarke, or America breathing down our necks and pressuring us to give it up so they can take our resources! It was taken by brute force and in an uncivilized manner, we aim to take it back so we the people can prosper, and to restore this coast to its prior majesty and longevity. Not for U.S. but for the new generations, for the children to come in the next millennia, all our children. We can truly live, together and share, hishak ish tsawak we are all one, connected. No matter what colors or privilege we were raised with.
Passive acceptance. Civil disobedience. Educational Indoctrination. Peaceful Protests. While we are all nicely and respectfully waiting for the government and its corporate puppet masters to hear us roar, they are stomping all over all our rights as humans and the rights of the planet. They are laughing at our compliance as they rake in the money and we are left as wage slaves passively accepting our fate as we rage angrily on our keyboards and to each other. They think nothing of collateral damage and acceptable losses. If we truly want to defend our coast then we need to gather and actually DEFEND IT. By any means necessary and without reservation! We ask you the environmentalist, the concerned citizens, the students, we ask you to abandon the construct that is western civilization, we ask you to turn you back on a government that has colonized and homogenized you as well, and support us. Work with us to dismantle the systems that made it so we have to defend our coast! The only way we can win and defend this coast is if the power is put back into the hands of the people! We ask you not for an invitation to your rallies and to sit at your tables we ask you not to save us, but to back us up. Shift the balance, switch the paradigm and warrior up! Or get the hell out of the way!
Hy Cheka Ciem Ociem! Kleco Kleco.