Set­tler non­sense

The Coast - - THIS WEEK -

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

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