Longhouse not a protest of Canada 150 but celebration of time immemorial

first_imgFREDERICTON – A traditional longhouse has been erected near the New Brunswick legislature, with a First Nations elder saying it’s not to protest Canada 150 but to educate that indigenous people were present long before Confederation.Alma Brooks of the Wolastoq Grand Council says the temporary structure on the Fredericton riverfront is a place of teaching and “a chance to celebrate time immemorial.”“It’s not a protest. Hopefully it will be a way of opening the door a crack for discussions around many long term issues that have been ignored,” she said Friday.She said she was pleased that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that protesters who erected a teepee in Ottawa ahead of Canada 150 celebrations on Saturday had a right to be there.On Thursday in Charlottetown and later in New Brunswick, Trudeau said that Canada had failed indigenous peoples for centuries.“If that’s the way he feels, that gives me a little bit of hope because we need to build a better world for our children,” Brooks said.The birch structure in Fredericton, covered with tarps and cedar brush, is oriented east-west on a grassy strip along the edge of the St. John River.It’s an area frequented by people who walk and jog, and a good vantage point for Canada Day fireworks.Brooks said she hopes people will stop to ask questions.“I hope they come and learn something. This is a teaching lodge. Come and listen and learn,” she said.Brooks said most Canadians don’t know enough about indigenous history in this country.Senator Sandra Lovelace Nicholas said this week that, as an indigenous woman from the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, she won’t celebrate Canada Day until all treaties are settled, and all First Nations children enjoy equality.Brooks said she understands the senator’s position, and there needs to be more truth and reconciliation going forward.She said Canada 150 is like two grains of sand in the hourglass that measures the time her ancestors have occupied the land.The New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council hasn’t taken an official position on Canada 150, but Chief Wendy Wetteland said while she has no disrespect or disregard for Confederation, there’s a lot of the history of Canada that’s not recognized in that celebration.“That’s what makes me hesitant to celebrate a marker in Canadian history, because there’s so much more to Canada’s history than that,” she said in an interview Friday.Wetteland said the prime minister’s statements make her optimistic, but there needs to be concrete action.“Steps moving forward have to be made with indigenous people in order to repair all of the systemic issues,” she said.Still, Wetteland said she hopes for a day when reconciliation is complete.“I do see a day when that can happen. I just hope it’s within my lifetime,” she said.last_img read more