June 17, 2009

Life and Dignity Ceremony

On June 2, 2009, we published a note that was a call for ceremonies to stop the Canada-Colombia FTA. It was initiated by several friends of ours in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where a group of students has engaged with this struggle and the process of weaving solidarity among the peoples in minga -- a minga of the peoples without owners.

While much of the efforts of civil society groups and organizations opposing this agreement has focused on the parliamentary/institutional arena, and there is no doubt that this is an important focal point in stopping these FTAs, it is equally important to recognize the other ways in which these death projects can be, and often are, confronted.

On June 10, 2009, a criminal from Colombia came to meet with his fellow criminals in Canada. The governments representing no one but the interests of transnationals, the agents of the death project, met amidst smiles, handshakes and what must have been countless conversations behind closed doors. The time taken to address the public was used to repeat and discuss baseless claims aimed at stigmatizing those of us who still believe in the defense of life... all life.

But in 5 places across Colombia, in Sault Ste. Marie, and in the hearts of those of us who journey with friends and companions we may not have even met (yet), another incredibly special encounter was taking place. With coca and tobacco, the condor and the eagle came together, transforming pain into the joining of spirits in common struggle.

We leave you with a message from our friends in Sault Ste. Marie, a report on the ceremony which speaks
for itself.

La Chiva

- -

Hello La Chiva friends,

We had about 35 people attend the ceremony on campus. This may sound like few, but our campus is very tiny, and everyone is gone for the summer, and there was another event going on that day too. So we were quite thrilled with the turnout.

The ceremony was extra special because the woman that was originally scheduled to conduct the ceremony was unable to attend at the last minute.... so a friend of ours conducted the ceremony for us. This friend missed his flight that morning, and we figure this was why.. he was meant to be with us on this day. At the ceremony I spoke about Peru, and the CCFTA and what it would mean if it was ratified. A friend reminded us all, that this is not just a Canada-Colombia problem, and it's not just an indigenous problem... but a world problem. Whatever we do, effects everyone else.

During the sacred fire ceremony we put down tobacco in the fire, and asked the Eagle to take our prayers to the Creator, remembering that in Colombia at that exact moment, they were putting down their coca and asking the Condor to take their prayers to the Creator.... a spiritual minga... our spirits and ancestors joined for a common goal.

After the sacred fire we conducted another ceremony at a historic site on the ShingwaukKinoomage Gamig campus; the site of the residential school. Our posters for the ceremony had a tree with no leaves. At this ceremony we planted three lilac trees, representing Canada, Colombia and the US; the 3 countries that were called to ceremony. It was a community event with many generations in attendance. The water that we had with us at the sacred fire ceremony was used to water the seedlings as they were planted. During the ceremony the people were each given a fabric 'leaf' to put their thoughts of solidarity into. After the trees were planted, people were encouraged to write those thoughts onto their 'leaf'. These leaves were then tied onto string that connected all the trees together.

We now have a lasting, and beautiful, reminder of this ceremony, this struggle, this spiritual minga.

It is also our hope that these trees with their messages of solidarity, generate curiosity and bring greater attention to the work that needs to be done.

After the ceremonies were complete we gathered in the Anishinaabek students lounge and shared a feast.

The local newspaper, the Sault Star was on hand. The caption read: "A.N. digs a hole for one of three lilac trees planted Wednesday on Algoma University grounds, while M.B. 5, walks past one of several symbolic flags tied to a string as part of an International Day of Ceremony held by Fair Trade Algoma. The event coincided with meetings in Canada between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who is promoting a free trade deal between the countries which was signed in the fall, but not yet ratified. Ceremonies, called for by the local fair trade group, were held across Canada, Colombia and the US in solidarity with Colombia's indigenous people."

J, R, S, E, A, & S

Align Center

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