This post is in response to the article, entitled Chiefs should stand with their people against Harper’s plans to terminate Indigenous rights and identity, posted December 09, 2014 at: http://www.idlenomore.ca/chiefs_should_stand_with_their_people
For me, the movie, Labyrinth (starring Jennifer Connelly as Sarah and David Bowie as the Goblin King) provides a good allegory and powerful symbolism that applies to our situation. To summarize the plot, the Goblin King steals Sarah’s infant brother. As she sets out to find the Goblin King’s castle and bring her brother back home, the Goblin King forces her to navigate the labyrinth that surrounds his castle. The labyrinth is always changing and is full of obstacles designed to block her progress. In the final confrontation, Sarah stands her ground and tells the Goblin King:
“Give me the child. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great […] For my will is as strong as yours, my kingdom as great… Damn. [pulls the Labyrinth book out of her pocket]…I can never remember that line…[reads]…You have no power over me.”
As soon as she says that last line, the Goblin King’s power is broken and the way to his castle is revealed.
To me, the child in the film symbolizes our future, which we’ve been trying to reclaim and recover.
Canada has tried to destroy us through colonization, colonialism and, more directly, through legislation and its residential school system.
Canada keeps encouraging us to forget the past, look forward and move on, as if our past is disconnected from our present and future.
As an Indigenous person, I’ve come to realize that there’s huge difference between “status” in Canada and citizenship of my Nation.
Status is given by Canada and can therefore be taken away.
Status provides access to program funding as long as we bow down to the criteria attached to it.
It’s through status that Canada has been able to keep us subservient to its paternalism.
Status, and Canadian law from which it arises, is a trap—a labyrinth—designed to keep us lost and distracted.
In my case, my birthright as Kanienkehaka is rooted in the citizenship of our Nation.
I believe that Canada has no power over us if my people get back in our canoe as referenced in the Kaswentah (Two Row Wampum).
Citizenship makes the path to decolonization clearer.
I encourage all Indigenous peoples to find and rebuild their canoes. Each nation has its own distinct style of canoe, and they’re all beautiful. Even the peoples of the plains had canoes: commonly referred to as travois.
I believe we stand a better chance of winning if we reclaim and uphold our traditional laws in our homelands.