Publishers notes June 2020
- John Lagimodiere | June 16, 2020
This is not your typical National Indigenous Peoples History Month and NIP Day kind of June. This is the first under a pandemic order that has shut down gatherings and the economy for that matter. It is also the first time it is happening under the toxic cloud of the racism and unrest affecting our southern neighbours. There will be no powwows this year. No Johnny Arcand Fiddle Fest. No 50th anniversary celebration at Batoche. No Rock Your Roots Walk down by the river with 5000 people loving each other and walking for reconciliation. Unprecedented times indeed.
But from such hardship and the unknown, there are some beautiful things happening. After the public execution of George Floyd, the marches and protests in the States have led to a myriad of jurisdictions actually defunding the police, firing bad police officers, changing policies and committing to doing better. The protests also spread around the world. There has been a shift in people’s consciousness and there is an awakening to the impact of race and racism globally. A new reality is emerging. Black Lives Matter and those that always want to say “All Lives Matter” are starting to get it, or get heck on Facebook.
The pandemic has also given us reason to unite. Not sure if everyone noticed, but all of a sudden, the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan and the First Nations in the northwest are communicating and cooperating. In the past, this wasn’t the case. Split by government and jurisdiction, there used to be friction and each going separate ways. But the spirit of community and helping that was sparked by the pandemic will leave us with many new relationships to nurture.
The Pasqua First Nation, under the leadership of Chief Matthew Peigan and Council were more prepared for the pandemic than most countries in the world. Chief Peigan and his team stocked up on groceries and cleaning supplies for their whole community before the lock down was called provincially. Now they are working with the FSIN and they have come up with a plan to provide PPE for all 74 First Nations in the province.
And individuals are stepping up. Angela Bishop and the Masked Makers have taken it upon themselves to make masks available to elders, people at risk and communities. These intrepid seamstresses have produced over 5000 masks and given them away free! I even have one. It is Métis themed and I feel cool wearing it. People are volunteering. Donating. Giving food to others.
Sadly, no powwows festivals or gatherings this summer interrupts economy for some, culture and community for others. But the amazing amount of on-line presentations is heartwarming and instead of walking by the river on June 21, I will be on-line watching entertainers and cultural practitioners do their thing for us as Friendship Centres and groups around the province still help us celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day the virtual way.
And, lastly with the lockdown we have been given the gift of time. I have never been so blessed as to have these past few months with my partner and our two children. The hecticness of work and travel was replaced with family lunches, something that went away when the kids became teens and hockey and other activities made us run around. Once we got over the fear of the world ending, we finally had time to reconnect and just be together. And that made me realize that is what it is about. Family.
So, my brothers and sisters, hug your kids and your parents this month. Do good things for your neighbours. Stand up to racism and tune in to your favourite source on June 21 and marvel in culture and celebrate our day. We are all in this together and so far, we have done really well. Be proud. Be strong. Wash your hands.