I read in a recent Coast of a ceremony “in honour of water protectors and land defenders” to be held at Point Pleasant Park. Halifaxritual.com said that this ceremony with someone named Starhawk, was to “strengthen connections between settler and First Nations communities.”
I know that Mi’Kmaw elder Dorene Bernard hosts an annual Water Walk at Point Pleasant, so I thought this might be the same thing.
When I got there I saw a few familiar faces from the non-Native Halifax environmental and social justice scene, but mostly nonNatives I’d never seen before dressed up with fairy costumes and flowers going around smudging each other. Where were all the Mi’Kmaw warriors? The rest of the people actually involved in protecting the water? Who are these people in fancy costumes? Where are they when it’s time to block the roads or hand out leaflets? Is there some reason this isn’t just a textbook case of appropriating Native culture to have a party?
This is not the first time Starhawk—who lives in California—is coming in uninvited and leading ceremonies that don’t feel quite right. At the G-8 meetings at Kananaskis and more recently at Standing Rock, Indigenous people had issues with her and her camp followers not respecting their authority in their own territories.
This event didn’t feel to me like something that brings our communities together. I think it sets us back and actally harms the genuine relationships that people are trying to build, because it treats Indigenous ceremonies and medicines disrespectfully. As somebody who wants to respect the original people here and their cultural integrity, as well as their traditional stewardship of the land we all live on, I just feel icky about this Starhawk thing. It gets harder and harder to say “not all non-Natives” are like that when this keeps happening.
—Name withheld by request, Halifax