A delegation of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs visited Kanesatake and Kahnawake as part of an 18-day tour to raise awareness about land dispossession and build solidarity between Indigenous communities.
“They are just looking for solidarity and support. They were in Kanesatake on Sunday,” said Kanehsata’kehró:non activist and Longhouse representative Ellen Gabriel, who coordinated their visit to Kanesatake.
“They essentially wanted to have support and maybe a renewal of relationships with other nations because we have the same struggles in regard to land and dispossession. To figure out a way how we could work together to support each other.”
The tour started in early August in Six Nations. The delegation will also be making stops in the Aamjiwnaang First Nation and in communities in Winnipeg, among others.
“They are going to have a big gathering at the end of August to sort of try and have some kind of unity across Canada to help them, but also to work in solidarity with nations, because the pandemic did interrupt that movement that was going on, and the fact that it never ended for them,” she said.
According to Gabriel, the hereditary chiefs shared a bit about their current situation and what has happened since the pandemic.
“When I think about the position that we were in 32 years ago, the public support and the support in ceremony lifted up the spirits of the people. And I am assuming that is where they are today because - I know it is very troubling and worrisome when a government says one thing but does the other, and they have children. This is their community,” explained the activist.
She said that their story reflects the struggles that all Indigenous people have experienced over the last 500 years as their homelands and communities have been invaded and taken from them. “And we are being pressured into accepting the colonizers’ terms on how to proceed forward.
“I think it is really important for us here to receive their message because we are having trouble too, and we discussed it a bit back and forth, but there is a commitment to each other to support each other,” she said.
The previous day, the chiefs were in Kahnawake and visited the Kanien’kehá:ka at Kahnawake (207 Longhouse).
According to Thomas Deer, a representative of the Longhouse, five hereditary chiefs and a few dozen community members were present at the meeting.
“It is an honour to receive our Wet’suwet’en brothers and sisters into our Longhouse again. They’ve demonstrated to the world repeatedly their tireless will to protect their territory and their sovereignty. From one traditional government to another, we share the same values,” said Deer.
He said that since they first came to Kahnawake in 2020, the Longhouse has maintained communication with the Wet’suwet’en leadership. Moreover, the chiefs were welcomed to the territory according to Rotinonhsión:ni ceremonial protocol.
“There is strength in unity, and we stand a better chance resisting colonial oppression together than separate. We both know we’re not alone in this struggle. The more like-minded Onkwehón:we nations that join together, the better chance we have to effectively assert our sovereignty,” he said.
“Both Kanesatake and Kahnawake are tied together in more ways than one. As kin, we share a common history and experience. As allies, we’ve inspired Onkwehón:we people beyond our Confederacy. It is no surprise that the Wet’suwet’en delegation felt that it was important to visit both our Longhouses,” he said.
Marisela Amador, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door