I arrived in Six Nations alongside Angie on Thursday evening at an awesome little cabin like motel called the Bears Inn. It was really homie and the rooms were all given unique names based on their community. Angie’s Room was Jay’s Treaty, and my room was Clan Mothers. I found out in the morning, that in addition to having complimentary breakfast, they even have solar panels! The Conference I was to speak at, Champions For Change was to focus on indigenous education & was celebrating 20 years for the on reserve school. Six Nations Polytechnic aims to support the learning of the communities young people and retain and enhance the languages and traditions of the Hodinohso’ni/Rotinonshonni community.
Champions For Change
When I arrived Friday morning, I was welcomed by the committee members and was able to watch as all the other attendees trickled in. I met the only other Cree guy in attendance, and he was actually the MC and he went by the name of Stan Wesley!! The day began with an ice breaker of rock paper scissors and the only person who beat me ended up winning the entire competition, it was a little old kookum. Next we saw a play that saw a young Mohawk woman go back in time and face Duncan Campbell Scott – the infamous Indian agent who aggressively pursued the Government of Canada’s Indian Residential School programs. It revealed humanity, but still stirred up a lot of emotions in the crowd, including myself. I was able to go up and speak and share my story. I had to first acknowledge the rage I felt at residential schools and how it has played out in my life. On this occasion I talked about how learning how to read was one of my escapes. Making friends was hard to do when you moved around so much but the characters in a book series seemed to satisfy that need. Bullies don’t go into libraries and when I am in those books, I get to become anything. I get to become an animal, I get to fight aliens, I get to save the world. I shared how important this was and how it allowed me to express this main point: learning about my culture, and the medicine wheel allowed me to look at the youth in my community, see their strengths and use their gifts to create a movement that is outside of, yet inclusive of traditional organizations, businesses, educational institutions and youth groups. And of course I mentioned that the first model created by the AYO Leaders when we began was our SHIT Model.
Good Family Relations is Good Medicine
After I spoke, I was presented with a gift of the Creation Story of their territory. The next speaker was Bob Antone who spoke of decolonization. He first described something called the Doctrine of Discovery, which was basically the blue prints for explorers to travel around the world taking the land of indigenous people. There was hope though, the example of governance and ceremonies within Haudenosaunee country and also sharing the 5 Steps of decolonization. The most amazing moment of his speech was when he said ‘positive family relations is good medicine.’ When you are present with, love, laugh and listen to the people you love it is doctoring them. I felt this first hand at the afternoon Luncheon when an elder was recognized, the absolute love that swept through the room was powerful. This good medicine works both ways. It was a great realization and makes me appreciate my Champagne, Shamattawa & ghetto families and all the doctoring and good medicine that goes on. Nya Weh means thank you.