Imagine that there was a sudden shift in Canada’s social and political landscape, and your religion or spiritual practice was outlawed. Those of you who attempt to maintain your faith are persecuted if caught. You continue to practice your faith in secret. You have all been evicted from your Church, Synagogue, Mosque or Temple; let’s call it your Sacred Place. Companies vie for the chance to use the property. Your Sacred Place becomes a factory, and is desecrated and polluted.
In time, Canada becomes more equitable and fair towards followers of your religion. And the factory in your Sacred Place closes down. Your city agrees to return your Sacred Place to your community, since its industrial use has ended. One of your faith leaders has a beautiful vision for restoring your Sacred Place to its former glory and to be the place for you to worship and take refuge once again. You are very close to getting your Sacred Place back, but have not quite raised enough money to restore it.
And then a local company, BlowHard, announces it will buy your desecrated Sacred Place and transform it into eco condos and retail space called “Faithy.” Despite protests from your community members and allies, the City allows your Sacred Place’s land to be rezoned for this proposed development.
Your community was hit hard by the former repression, and now BlowHard approaches community members offering them work – if, and only if, they will work on further defiling their Sacred Place. BlowHard manages to hire some community members, and with slick and expensive media campaigns is busily convincing the mainstream public that your community supports the Faithy project and that it will create jobs for your community members.
What would you do?
This is what happened to the Anishinabe (Algonquin) who were pushed away from their Sacred Place, Akikodjiwan. Akikodjiwan is comprised of the Chaudière Falls, which were dammed 200 years ago and are inaccessible, and the islands downstream: Albert, Chaudière, and Victoria. Akikodjiwan was and continues to be a sacred site for the Anishinabe and many other Indigenous Peoples.
Organized religions and some spiritual communities make human-built buildings their places of worship, their Sacred Places. But the Anishinabe and many other Indigenous Peoples identify their sacred sites in nature. They then pray and conduct their ceremonies at these sacred sites, like Akikodjiwan.
The fact that there are no buildings at many Indigenous sacred sites does not make them any less sacred or important than a Temple, Church, Mosque, or Synagogue. The land is just as soaked with prayer at Indigenous sacred sites as it is beneath a sacred building.
With Akikodjiwan, we know hundreds of generations of Indigenous peoples have offered tobacco to the majestic falls, and conducted their ceremonies on the islands downstream. If anything, the land and waters of Akikodjiwan are far more soaked with prayer than the much younger religious buildings built by settlers.
Anishinabe Elder South Wind (Albert Dumont) has called for support to protect Akikodjiwan. We are all invited to Faith Is Peace: Walk For Our Sacred Site, Akikodjiwan on Friday, June 23, 2017. This is our chance to support Anishinabe elders and activists seeking the return of their sacred site.
I will be walking in solidarity. With my baby. With all of you. For the future generations of all my relations.
Walk with you then!
More information about the Faith is Peace Walk
23 June 2017 Schedule:
10am: Gather on Victoria Island, at the Booth Street entrance. Prayers and ceremonies.
11am: Walk to Parliament Hill.
12pm (approximately): Reach Parliament Hill, gather for speakers
Call to action: http://albertdumont.com/indigenous-spirituality-is-precious/
“Indigenous roots intertwined and locked as one with settler roots, shoulder to shoulder, we will walk in prayer to the nation’s Parliament Buildings. Together, we will show the world that Indigenous spirituality is real and is as rich with the blessings of Creator as are all the other faiths practised by the citizenry who make up the population of Canada.”
FB event to share share share: https//www.facebook.com/events/1906106689612742
Pictures and media from last year’s It Is Sacred walk: http://www.itissacred.ca/