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Positive Peace and Sustainable Development Denied in Canada– My Experience as an Indigenous Woman – Homeless in Our Homeland

I am a woman of Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation descent, an Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

My homeland is located within the watershed of the Ottawa River, under the administration of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. This is unceded Algonquin Nation territory, and the Kichesipirini hold existing specific and contextual jurisdiction as customary government within the broader cultural complex. Positive social character influences the security of the society and its genuine economy. Traditional women significantly influence customary values because their health and quality of life experience directly influences the health and life experience of future generations. Women’s health is directly affected by the health of the environment. Local food integrity directly affects the security of the people of the nation.

To us, a sense of home includes a sense of productive homeland. For traditional Kichesipirini women home and homeland meant an attachment to local and healthy real world productive life cycles and systems. This provided a concrete backdrop for a particular socialization and economic system that relied upon responsible stewardship of the natural world and well-being as a measure of success. We greatly valued our independent lifestyle; our food sovereignty and security. The hub of the entire system was close and caring social supports, most efficiently developed through empowering the capacity of families. Traditional families directly integrated pro-social principles and priorities with childrearing that established strong emotional bonds, to each other, home, and land. Women, because of their direct intergenerational influence, primarily held this extremely important governance role. In the traditional Anishnabe culture this social role was highly respected and valued.

Women kept an intergenerational watch on the health of the families. This loving, caring and sharing culture, with increasing external restrictive economic pressures, has become progressively difficult to maintain. Because of complexities directly associated with continuing colonial assertions I become homeless in unceded aboriginal territory trying to preserve it.

As the original organic grassroots society attached to this particular eco-region, my family holds a documented record of 400 years attachment to this area captured in the records compiled since earliest colonial contact. Despite this, through “official” State administration, we are considered to not exist. Colonial administration removed us from the “Indian” list when we refused to relocate from our traditional territory to the incorporated reserves. Academic records claimed that we were extinct. As an invisible and “unrecognized” Indigenous Peoples we were, paradoxically, still able to live largely undisturbed in our territory. Utilizing diverse land tenure, distribution, and traditional social supports systems, with a continuing belief that local natural resources are first for the provision of the local community, we continued to harvest directly from the land to provide for our families.

Under international secrecy during World War II nuclear industry experiments associated with the Manhattan Project were set up within our unceded territory and family homelands. The Chalk River nuclear site was established and we became an invisible vulnerable population, along with our neighbours, exposed to a long legacy of terrible contamination and health risks. This began before there were any policies in place regarding appropriate civil participation, adequate health or environmental monitoring, or international standards. In complete ignorance, we continued much of our traditional lifestyle of hunting, fishing, gathering, farming, and nursing our children, in one of the most contaminated regions known to the world. The subsequent recent “clean-up” of the highly toxic site may have been even more dangerous, exposing us now to secondary streams of combined toxins.

We are a distinct population that has remained in this particular region for centuries. We are also a distinctly identifable population that holds a particular relationship with the legacy of contamination associated with the nuclear industry. As long as we remain “unrecognized,” the world will never fully know the long-term intergenerational effects of the nuclear industry. Soon we will be gone. Many concerned persons feel that there have been high numbers of health problems in the area. My own health experience, with the loss of five pregnancies, and unusual neurological and autoimmune problems, seems to support this. Many live with a great deal of anxiety because of this particular aspect of our history.

For many, in an economically dependent area, a well paying job buys compliance. Complexities in State administrative policies put those vocal about concerns at risk in a number of ways.

From a traditional Anishnabe cultural perspective when human families are not respected all of our positive concepts of nationhood, sovereignty, security, sustainability, economy, development and international peace and cooperation are compromised.

In a large country like Canada, it is difficult to understand why anyone experiences homelessness or insecurity regarding access to adequate food. Access to adequate food should include the assurance of the complete safety of local foods, especially within unceded Algonquin territory.

I recommend that the current Algonquin Land Claim process be modified, preserving cultural integrity, as an international pilot project that integrates the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as an opportunity for the development of a new model of international Treaty committed to socially responsible sustainable development. This new Treaty model, in accordance to the rule of law, should protect all natural persons against encroachments that negatively affect human rights, intergenerational responsibilities, environmental integrity, and social justice principles.

Paula LaPierre
Principal Sachem
Kichesipirini Algonquin
Canada

Land Claims and the People of the Great River
http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/985

Lies, Omissions and Nuclear Waste
http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/1749

Manufactured Crises on Stolen Land
http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/1790

Eagle Feather For Linda Keen?
http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/1845

Across Algonquin Territory
http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/2185

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In partnership with the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), World Pulse is collecting personal stories outlining women’s experiences and recommendations on sustainable and equitable development for presentation at the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

All stories submitted on our community platform between now and June 3, 2012 will be presented at the Rio+20 Conference. Additionally, selected entries will be published in World Pulse’s digital magazine and distributed widely to international media partners. Learn how YOUR voice can be included!

Comments

Breese's picture

Paula - thank you so much for

Paula - thank you so much for speaking up and representing your community! Your voice is being heard around the world!

Paula LaPierre Kichesipirini Algonquin's picture

Thank you.

I wasn't sure if I had tagged it correctly so thank you for your comment Breese.
Paula

Paula LaPierre
Principal Sachem
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation
Kichi Sibi Anishnabe
Canada
Culture is a pillar of sustainable development. Make certain then that is is culture with integrity.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/48051716/Prior-Social-Org

jadefrank's picture

Taking your voice to Rio+20!

Dearest Paula,

I found your story so moving and your voice so powerful. I think that North Americans often turn a blind eye to the injustices that persist for First Nations and Native Americans, whom have for hundreds of years been persecuted.

Thank you for participating in our Rio+20 initiative and courageously sharing your voice. Your story and recommendations are en route to Rio de Janeiro with our partners at WEDO, and will be presented at the conference to ensure grassroots women's perspectives are included at the negotiating table. Our editorial team is working on an E-magazine for publication next Wednesday which you will receive in your inbox, highlighting selected pieces from our Rio+20 initiative. We will keep you updated on the outcomes of the conference and how you can stay involved as a vocal leader for your community on these issues.

I encourage you to read the stories of your fellow PulseWire sisters and engage in conversation to share experiences, ideas, and best practices for addressing sustainable development issues in your communities.
http://www.worldpulse.com/taxonomy/term/17249

In friendship and solidarity,
Jade

Paula LaPierre Kichesipirini Algonquin's picture

Homeless in Our Homeland

Thank you so much Jade for your kind and encouraging words. Thank you as well for all the efforts and tremendous work that has been dedicated by so many so that opportunities such as this exist. I look forward to continuing participation.
Paula

Paula LaPierre
Principal Sachem
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation
Kichi Sibi Anishnabe
Canada
Culture is a pillar of sustainable development. Make certain then that is is culture with integrity.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/48051716/Prior-Social-Org

Susana Khabbaz's picture

amazed

dear Paula,
Congratulations for speaking up... I'm really touched by your words and all the feeling and strenght beyond them.
Your words are a great combination of culture, history, emotion and so many more things.
It's an honor to share this with you. I'm pretty touched after having read your deep message
friendship, solidarity,love and colors to you
Susana

Susana Khabbaz
Pintora | Pittrice | Painter
www.susanakhabbaz.com
https://www.facebook.com/SusanaKhabbaz.Pintora.Pittrice.Painter
Twitter: @SusanaKhabbaz

Susana Khabbaz's picture

connecting

Dear Paula,
I have been thinking of you and the great work and mission you are holding. I'd love to be helpful for you and your people...
As a matter of fact, I have a niece who is studying in Toronto, she's doing beautiful things, although she's very young (18)... I am thinking she might help you to speak up and to give a louder voice to your VERY IMPORTANT message.
Please have a look of what she's done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pypXSCswpU&feature=youtu.be

If you feel like contacting her, let me know and I can connect both of you.

best regards,
Susana

Susana Khabbaz
Pintora | Pittrice | Painter
www.susanakhabbaz.com
https://www.facebook.com/SusanaKhabbaz.Pintora.Pittrice.Painter
Twitter: @SusanaKhabbaz

Paula LaPierre Kichesipirini Algonquin's picture

connecting

Yes. I would be interested in learning more about her work. Thank you again.
Sincerely,
Paula

Paula LaPierre
Principal Sachem
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation
Kichi Sibi Anishnabe
Canada
Culture is a pillar of sustainable development. Make certain then that is is culture with integrity.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/48051716/Prior-Social-Org

Paula LaPierre Kichesipirini Algonquin's picture

Connecting

Susana Khabbaz,
I would b every interested in learning more about your offer and the work that your niece is doing.
Sincerely,
Paula

Paula LaPierre
Principal Sachem
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation
Kichi Sibi Anishnabe
Canada
Culture is a pillar of sustainable development. Make certain then that is is culture with integrity.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/48051716/Prior-Social-Org

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