Marc Miller meets with the Mohawks at the Council House February 15 2020

EDITED TRANSCRIPTS

MEETING BETWEEN THE MOHAWK PEOPLE 

AND 

MARC MILLER, MINISTER OF INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS CANADA

TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY

RE: TYENDINAGA RAIL SHUTDOWN, FEB 15, 2020

Note: These transcripts have been edited to streamline the discussions for reading. Words like “um” have been edited out. Also edited out are some small talk or side conversations with people in the audience when breaks were called that were not part of the official discussions between the Mohawk People and Minister Marc Miller or his staff. Nothing with relevance to the discussion regarding Wet’suwet’en, current actions across the country or the encampments at Tyendinaga has been excluded. 

***

Shortly before 10:30am Minister Marc Miller arrives at the Wyman Road encampment. The table which was originally on the tracks has been moved to just off the tracks. Minister Miller has brought three of his staff members with him, including Deputy Minister Jean-Francois Tremblay and his Chief of Staff, Mike Burton and someone whose name wasn’t noted. On the other side of the table are the Mohawk spokespeople as have been chosen by their clans to represent the people in the meeting. The temperature is about minus 12 degrees and there is a wind and light snow falling. It’s cold for everyone.

Bear Clan Representative, KANENHARIYO:(Seth LaFort)

Bear Clan Representative, KANAKTIYOHSTHA (Linda LaFort)

Turtle Clan Representative, TEHAHENTE (Frank Miller)

Turtle Clan Representative, KARENNIYO (Caroline Van Every)

Wolf Clan Representative, THOHYANOKEN (Storm Brant)

Wolf Clan Representative, KAWENNIIOSTA JOCK

Wolf Clan Representative, KAIATIHTAKAEH (Jackie Hall)

MINISTER MARC MILLER: You guys sleeping out here?

CROWD: Yeah

MINISTER MARC MILLER: oh man. I woke up early, I was in White Fish River Nation yesterday, to visit the community and we went to Lac Seul near Sioux Lookout to lift the water advisory that had been in place for seventeen years.

CROWD: That’s a long time

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Too long, too long.

CROWD: Why did it get like that?

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Why did it get like? Should have been done a long time ago…

CROWD: “seventeen years is a long time” Crowd: “Hey guys…we’re just going to wait for now, OK guys” “Marc are you getting cold?”

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Hey James, I’m OK…My heart’s warm.

CROWD: Let me be the first to say, welcome to Tyendinaga.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Thank you. Does everyone know who’s with me today?

CROWD:  No, who’s with you?

MINISTER MARC MILLER: This is my deputy minister [inaudible] Mike Burton the other redhead, my chief of staff.

TEHAHENTE: I will attempt to translate a little bit, it is our custom that when we have visitors, that we observe that at the fireside, at the edge of the woods is where we see the smoke rising. So we come to you in all respect and we welcome you to our territory and the first thing that we do is that we say that anything that has affected you recently, the tears from your eyes, we say that we go and take the finest soft leather from the belly of a fawn and that’s what we’ll use to wipe away your tears so you can see clearly and also so that we can see you. And also we say sometimes death, and we call it death because what happens when there’s great concern or trauma or anything of that nature, we say that death goes into your ears and causes a blockage and what we do is that we go to the other side of the sky world and we’ll bring the finest eagle feather and that’s what we’ll use to pull that out from your ears so that you’ll be able to hear clearly to understand what’s being said. We say that when there’s trauma, it causes a blockage in our throat, that blockage in our throat makes it difficult sometimes to say what’s on our mind and what’s on our heart. We say what we do is that we give the finest water, we go to the other side of the sky world and bring back the finest water, the purest water, as pristine the ever was. That’s what we use to metaphorically for you to drink so that washes away that blockage in your throat so that you able to speak in a proper correct manner. So these are the words that were asked to be spoken today to welcome you to our territory, and to further discussion. After that, we’ll go for something to eat.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: thank you.

KANENHARIYO: (Introduces himself in Mohawk) My name is Kanenhariyo, I’m bear clan. I was appointed and asked by my family, my clan, to be here today. And that I have a business to attend to, and so that’s why I am here. You and I spoke before, and you made a request to come here and observe an ancient treaty relationship that our people have with your crown. You’re here and you have asked to polish the Silver Covenant Chain in accordance to the principles. It’s our custom to welcome guests into our territory to express that you are fully under our safety and our protection and our care and concern for you and that is of the utmost importance to us; your wellbeing. There were three of us asked to come and listen and talk about business today, myself and these two gentlemen here. I apologize, I don’t talk very loud for the cameras, I just don’t talk very loud. (laughter) And there are women of our three clans, they’re here with us as well. We are not alone. And they are continuing to adhere to our traditional government structure and its systems. So maybe the most appropriate thing to do is we ought to introduce ourselves. So I don’t know in this circumstance because it’s been so long since this happened who goes first. (laughter) But it’s important that we have some humour. Humour is medicine and we need to have healing. That’s what this process is about. When we’re renewing in our friendships those sorts of things anytime you gotta have humour and food so that you can have medicine and heal. I am not at all suggesting that we’re gonna leave here today and everyone’s going to be healed up. But at least there’s been an attempt and a reach out. This is a start.

 KANENHARIYO: Well, it’s cold (crowd laughter). We asked where we were going to meet and since everybody has been saying that the trains are blocked (we should meet here), but I don’t see any blocked trains. 

It is important that you can see that. Because sometimes people don’t tell the truth. And that is the reality. They never got blocked. There has been lots about talk about “stop blocking the rails” and we never did. No one ever did that.

As you are aware the people said we don’t want any trains passing through here until the RCMP remove themselves over there (Wet’suwet’en).

But you came here asking to ‘polish the chain’ and we don’t know what has been the issue. I have a suspicion, but we don’t know for sure and we would like to hear that (from you). That’s our custom. Because you requested it, we need to hear (from you).

 MINISTER MARC MILLER: Well, I repeat what I was asked by the media standing about a hundred yards away. And I said we stopped talking to each other as a country. And we stopped listening. Non-indigenous people don’t talk to each other. (People) Make statements, Facebook Twitter, elsewhere. We stopped communicating. This isn’t something that happened yesterday. This has been happening as you know because you’ve been the first victims of it for years. A lot of us have sat on the sidelines. Sometimes watching, sometimes not even…not caring, not even knowing. I think throughout all this I’ve been hearing a lot of public statements that are ignorant. 

I think ignorance is more dangerous than a lot of dangerous weapons. And this problem isn’t going away. It isn’t going away anytime soon. 

You could open up this rail right now, you could say it is safe to go through. It isn’t going to solve the underlying problem. 

There have been a lot of narratives that have gone into the public sphere in the last few weeks and they are not a reflection of the real issues. 

I understand that you are standing in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en. They need to be listened to and this is what, after some hesitation that the Premier of British Columbia has undertaken to do along with another minister of the Crown that will happen shortly, which should get things to ease up but it cannot be the end of conversation because it will be for nothing. This is not about leaders talking to each other, it is about people starting to talk to each other. This is my biggest worry, frankly. 

Because I am an elected official, my greatest responsibility is people’s safety in Canada as Indigenous Services Minister. It sure is not to dictate what rights you have and not to tell you on what conditions to exercise them but to fulfill my oath that to make sure they are respected. But this isn’t something easy or linear or that will happen quickly. 

As we talked about polishing the chain, I want to acknowledge the amazing work that some of the women in your communities have done to facilitate this conversation. This conversation wouldn’t have happened if it was just me reaching out. This is facilitated by a lot of very very strong women who worked really hard in the background to do it. Politicians would say that they called it to happen but everyone knows how this meeting happened and they should go knowing that it is because of the strength of the women that this meeting happened. 

I don’t know what it’s going to lead to. But me not knowing what it’s going to lead to is a good thing because it is not happening on my terms it is happening on your terms.

My hope is that we can continue this conversation in peace. We don’t have to be all of the one mind, I am a non-indigenous person and I have differences with other non-indigenous people, I cannot expect that to be imposed on you. But we gotta continue talking. And I’ll leave it at that.

I think people here are cold, they have warm hearts. Um, but like I said, this isn’t going away. This isn’t going away. So, this is a—I think—a small step and I thank everyone for their courage, because it takes courage to be vulnerable and I know a lot of people when you stand out here you get emotional about things.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Actually I’ve been out here for nine days.

MINISTER MARC MILLER:  It can be painful. Yeah. And I know you guys have been out here and could be longer. We could, we could start talking. Think that’s all I have to say.

KANENHARIYO: I hope that your words are earnest. And my sense of your energy is that. But, um, it’s actions that are meaningful. Words are powerful, but actions are meaningful. I’m watching some great things occur throughout this country right now. And there are some concerns. There’s a great deal of fear by my people, cause your country hasn’t treated us very well. And they’ve caused us a great deal of harm.

And there’s some concern that maybe there’s a trick. That there’s a desire to come here to talk but there’s an alternative plan. And we hope that that’s not the case.

I keep hearing about the “rule of law”. So, it’s very important before we proceed forward that we talk about that a little bit. Because there’s a rule to this land, and when your ancestors first came here, we shared with you what that rule was. And that’s never changed. It didn’t have an expiry date. It didn’t grow whiskers and get old and pass away. And no one agreed to abandon it.

Your ancestors came here, and they weren’t in a position of power. There’s a fantasy that they came here and dominated the people, but that’s not true. They came here and they were sick and dying. And when they first met us, we gave them medicine. We helped them with scurvy in the St. Lawrence. They had hair on their tongue. And we remember that still.

And so there’s a want or desire to pretend that you came here and dominated us, but that’s not true. And it was a time when you were weak and we were strong that we offered yous peace, and we offered yous how to live here. When you were not being treated well where you came from, and you ran away from your homeland because you killed your Mother. You couldn’t drink the water there, you cut all the trees down, and your king took away your access to the deer to even eat.

These people have been standing out here in minus 25 for how many days now? I don’t remember.

CROWD: Nine

KANENHARIYO: Nine days. That’s a long time. That’s a long time—we’ve been here only five minutes and you’re cold. And, I don’t mean to hijack you, but, we’re concerned that there’s a trick and we’re concerned that there’s an attempt to make it look like “the Indians aren’t being fair”. That maybe even they closed all the trains down throughout the country so that they could say there’s an emergency.

I wanna talk a little bit about this for a moment. And I’m not going to go long, in long detail, but the Tyohate is the law of this land. And when your people come here, this is what we say—this is how you live here. And since you made your country, or you tried to, you have been ignoring that this is the relationship. And you need to tell your people the truth. And you need to tell the world the truth, that this is not a domestic issue. And if we’re going to proceed forward with any discussion or talks, then the foundation of our relationship is based on Tyohate.

And I know that you know what this is about, and I know that you studied it. We can stand here and tell long stories and all about this but that will waste our precious time, won’t it? We’re in our ship, and all of our ways are in there. Our way of doing, our way of governing, our way of business, our language, our belief system. And you’re in your ship, with your customs, and your way of governing, and your language, and your courts, and your laws, and your governance over yourselves, as we travel along on this river of life together. And we weren’t supposed to poke holes in each other’s vessel. The rule here is we don’t steer the other one’s boat.

And that’s the law of this land. And for over a hundred years, you stole our children and you put them in residential schools to wipe their mind so they didn’t remember about this. And so they didn’t remember their language. But for a hundred years, you did the same thing to your own children, and you didn’t tell them about the rule of law here. And you wrote it out of your history what is the relationship in this land. You even tell them that they don’t have a queen.

So if we are to continue forward, then we can only do that on the basis of Tyohate. On the foundation of the relationship that our ancestors made with each other. That was the path that got set, and if we’re not able to respect that relationship, then we can’t talk because it’ll be you dominating us. ‘Cause we are small now.

And, um, I’m sure we’ll talk more. There’s an awful lot of silence over here and you’re probably told you can’t say “okay” to that. But it’s our treaty together. It’s not just ours. This isn’t the Indians’, this is everybody’s. Even the deer and the bears, this is their treaty. And fish and deer and the birds. All of it. It describes how we are to live here. We’re a part of this creation, we’re not separate.

So they’re afraid there’s a trick. And we heard your friend, Justin Trudeau, he made a comment today that it’s not his responsibility to pull those RCMP out of there, something to that effect.

We’ve been paying attention for a long time. There’s always patterns. There’s always a desire to find someone to be at blame. And we had to not let the media come, all the big pile of them, because it began to choreograph a story to sway the position of the people, your people, to be angry with us, who are standing in the cold.

So I have a question for you. And Canada needs to know this. I understand that one of the political families that’s here today, they made a request to your people to your government to your Queen to your Governor General to sit down and polish the chain and to talk about what was happening in the Wet’suwet’en territory prior to the RCMP going in there. Didn’t they?

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I’d have to see what was… get to the facts of that.

KANENHARIYO: Can you read it?

KARRENIYO: So it says: [reads letter]

“Her Majesty the Queen

Buckingham Palace

London, SW1A 1AA

January 20, 2020

 Re: Our Allied Relationship

Your Majesty,

I trust that this message finds you and the Royal Family in good health and good spirits.

We, the Sha’tekarihwate family of the Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan are writing to you out of care and concern for one of our allies, namely, the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia.

As we know you are aware, our people have had an allied relationship for 300 plus years, which is called the Orehkwasa or Silver Covenant Chain and the Tenkeni Tyohate or Two Row Wampum. It was our ancestors that made this agreement and we have been vested with the responsibility to follow through with our obligations as outlined in this treaty. It is this treaty that establishes our allied relationship to each other and has allowed your family some ability to exercise limited sovereignty within our shared territory.

It is our understanding that if the Two Row and the Silver Covenant Chain are broken, we are no longer allies. Therefore, your family’s ability to exercise and exert sovereignty within our shared territory comes to an end.

For three hundred years, we have both understood this agreement in the following manner:

Our relationship as represented by the Silver Covenant Chain is represented by three chain links. The first link represents your family, your people, your society and your sovereignty.

The second link or middle link; represents our friendship and allied relationship. This link represents our agreement to respect each other’s autonomy as separate people living as neighbours in shared lands.

The third link represents my people and our allies, our society and our sovereignty.

This relationship was brought forward by your representative Sir William Johnson and it was said that it was to be made of silver so that if ever our relationship was to become tarnished, we would forever have the ability to pull on that chain and have the others’ attention. Once we have each other’s attention, we are to sit together and polish the chain until our relationship would become bright again. This polishing of our relationship would mean that our issues with one another would be resolved.

Furthermore, we remember the provisions of our agreement to outline how disputes or issues are resolved. The provisions of the agreement are represented within the second link of the chain as the second link identifies how we live harmoniously in these shared lands. These provisions state:

1. When individuals of either Nation have caused the relationship to tarnish, the Nation of the individual who has the issue informs the other and requests a polishing of the chain.

2. A meeting is held to discuss the issue(s) and to attempt to find a resolution that satisfies both parties. Historically, this has sometimes taken several meetings. Also, historically, both of our Nations have sent representatives to act as agents on our behalf to address the issues and to negotiate a peaceful resolution.

3. Once a peaceful resolution has been achieved, and both parties are satisfied, gifts are to be exchanged and a public announcement is to be made that the chain has been polished and that the issue is no longer tarnishing our relationship. This public announcement is to be made to both our Nations’ people and yours to ensure both our peoples no longer harbor resentment towards the other.

4. In the event the chain of friendship is not polished, we understand that we cease to be allies [and that the issue that has caused a tarnishing of our relationship, may bring about war.]

When you visited Canada in 2010, you recognized our relationship through our custom of exchanging gifts. At that time, you made reference to our relationship by engraving the bells recognizing our 300-year alliance. As such, as a part of our allied relationship, we are required to bring issues to you when they concern your citizens.

Currently, our allies of the Wet’suwet’en Nation are under surveillance and attack from your Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The Wet’suwet’en are living within their traditional territories and protecting their lands from invasion by pipeline companies and the man camps that conduct the work. As you are aware, the pipelines that are currently in use are wreaking havoc on the environment worldwide. Along with the companies comes the man camps which are a serious health and safety concern for Indigenous people in Canada since there is a direct correlation between the man camps and the safety of Indigenous women. The Wet’suwet’en do not want the pipelines to cross their lands, nor do they want the man camps on their lands.

To date, the Wet’suwet’en have established their camps within their territories and are maintaining their position. However, the RCMP have started to mobilize and they have checkpoints set up controlling the flow of traffic in and out of Wet’suwet’en territory. It is well known that the RCMP will cut off supply lines, close roads, create no-fly zones and cut all communication lines in order to drive people from the territory. Then, when that doesn’t work, the RCMP will invade the territory using any force necessary. These lands are Wet’suwet’en lands and this is their home and citizens of your commonwealth are performing acts of genocide against them in your name as the Crown. However, you do not have a treaty with the Wet’suwet’en and therefore the lands are solely theirs.

There are ten stages of genocide and in this instance against the Wet’suwet’en, the pipeline companies, the RCMP and the government of Canada are colluding against the Wet’suwet’en and other Indigenous nations. Canada, specifically Prime Minister Trudeau and Governor General Payette like to speak on a national and international scale about the uniqueness of Canada and the relationship with Indigenous people. Furthermore, they like to speak about their Truth and Reconciliation policies, but they continue to complete acts of genocide when the rest of the world isn’t looking. The issue with the Wet’suwet’en is but one example of the lack of truth and the smoke and mirrors related to their truth and reconciliation.

As the only living head of state who served in World War II against the genocidal acts of Hitler and the only living head of state who remembers the fear and chaos of the blitz, you can understand the fear and chaos under which we as Indigenous people must live. We live under this fear and chaos in our daily lives and more so on a global scale when we speak out against the injustices that we face. We would ask that you exert your sovereignty over the citizens of your commonwealth in restoring peace with the Indigenous people in the territory and order them to withdraw from Wet’suwet’en territory.

We believe this issue to be one of great importance as it concerns the safety and well-being of our friends and allies. We hope that you will take this under consideration and will assist in addressing the issue. We look forward to hearing from you with respect to this request. Any written communication may be sent via e-mail at shatekarihwate@mohawk.cloud. We hope to hear from you soon.

In peace and in friendship,

Members of the Sha’tekarihwate Clan, Six Nations of the Grand River

Cc: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The Right Honourable Julie Payette

The Honourable Marc Miller – Minister of Indigenous Services

Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger – President United UN Human Rights Council

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz – UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People

Sha’tekarihwate Clan – Six Nations of the Grand River”

KANENHARIYO: So I’ve been poised to ask the question, before we go get out of the cold and get something to eat… is why didn’t you come to polish the chain, until we had to stand in the snow, in the cold this long?

We asked before they [RCMP] even went in there.

You can’t put this on us that we caused this, because we asked yous. And the treaties that were made before you became a country, you’re still obligated to uphold. They don’t grow whiskers. The river of life is still flowing. There’s no ending.

We need to know why we were ignored.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I won’t claim that those treaties have been respected throughout time. They haven’t. They’ve been broken. Those understandings have been broken for lots of reasons. And I mentioned one of them, ignorance. I think that as we reflect on the alliance, those have been ignored and violated. I wouldn’t have known that ten years ago. I wouldn’t have known that ten years ago. I’ve learned a bit, maybe not enough. But I think its more than me, it’s people that don’t think about these things every day. My job now is to think about these things every day. Over the last year I’ve made very small steps of trying to engage with Confederacy. But the biggest challenge in my job is not the resources, it’s the lack of trust. And its still here. You guys are worried, and I get briefed on things, telling me not to come in here. But there’s good people in here. There’s good people here. Angry, but good people. And so, I can’t say that I’m going to fix it today. That would be lying. But we can start, take small steps. I’m continuing my meetings with the Confederacy next week.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Can you please answer his question.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Why were we ignored?

MINISTER MARC MILLER:  for so long?

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Since the letter.

KANENHARIYO: The request.

MINISTER MARC MILLER:  I can’t say I’ve read that letter, or received it. I would tell you if I did, and I would tell you if I ignored it.

KANENHARIYO: Well, you got sent it.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: And your secretary received it.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: And you’d have to see where it got sent. We could check, absolutely I can check-

COMMUNITY MEMBER: It was sent to the address that’s listed on your website.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Sure.

KANENHARIYO: Nonetheless.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: We do get a lot of letters and I don’t… there are plenty of ways to communicate with me. And a lot of people here have my text and various ways to reach me. I don’t present that as an excuse but I’m a very reachable person, as you know; I wouldn’t come here if I pretended to be unreachable. And as you well know, I’m willing to go where you want me to go and when you want me to go, but this is a question of not why this wasn’t answered three weeks ago, it’s about years of neglect and ignorance, and I’ll readily concede that. But we’re willing to take small steps.

KANENHARIYO: Well. We can talk more in the warmth, but it needs to be known by your population that you ignored our requests. Not just you as a person. You come here representing your country. And if you’ve not come here representing the crown, and your country, and the governor general really should be here, and we’ll talk about that some more, because I believe that your friend, Justin Trudeau, he said it’s not his job to hold the RCMP back, but I believe that the governor general certainly can. Because they are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and they are under the direction of the crown. There is a way that we can navigate this, but we have to be creative, and we have to be open to take different paths than we haven’t done in the past. And you made a step (by coming here) and we can talk some more. These people are still all under threat by the OPP over there. And so we’ll have to talk about that too.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I have a liaison officer if we need to talk about that.

KANENHARIYO: Also, I want to tell you a little bit of a story. There’s a reason why we’re here (gestures to the tracks). You see in 1823, they came here with surveyors, and they surveyed a 5 mile tract of land across our territory. And we never agreed to it.

70 of our warriors came out here, but there was only 300 people that came from our village, so you would imagine that 70 warriors is nearly a third of our population. And they threw those surveyors out and said, ‘you can’t be here, this is our territory as protected for us forever.’

But you see, they wanted to put in a road. Because they said the road that we made, the York Road, was too “uncivilized”, and they wanted a civilized road so the white people could travel from Montreal to Toronto and not have to go through the “wild lands of the Indians.”

When we threw out the surveyors and said, “You can’t do that, this is our land and it’s protected, we made a promise, that this is our land forever. For our free use and enjoyment.”

They threatened us with the army. They told us if we came back out here they’d bring the army to us.

And so we have a special heart for the Wet’suwet’en because what happened to them last week is exactly what was done to us, right here. And this our land.

We’re not off the reserve. And you put train tracks on our land. And you put highway 2, that was the first major highway on our land. And then you put the 401 on our land.

But it’s our land.

Forever.

There are the people in town who think that just because they’re occupying (our land), that it’s over, that that’s all done.

That’s called invasion. There’s nothing legal about that. Then they come with an injunction and tell the people that they can’t be on their own land, that they’re trespassing.

Don’t let this be lip service.

You said something, you said there’s angry people here. I know these people. They’re my people. I love them all. And they’re not angry. There’d be hell to pay if they were angry. (laughter) They’re hurt. They’ve been disrespected. And they’re afraid that you’re not done with us. They’re afraid that you’re plotting now to bring your army to us again. This wouldn’t be the first time, is it? So we should get away from the cameras so we can actually talk. And I know you’re not going to say a word because you’ve probably been told not to.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I wasn’t told anything, I’ll tell you that.

KANENHARIYO: I have to tell you something, the last time this happened was in 1990. Oh, wait a minute. It happened at Caledonia. They come to talk there and before that, in 1990. and it’s always when there’s a big crescendo. How come trains all have to stop in the whole country for us to pull on the chain? (reference to the Silver Covenant Chain) How come we gotta pull that hard? I’ll be looking for answers to those things, because the people need to know that. Anyways. We’re gonna get in circles if we don’t stop. Welcome to our territory. And the people were uncomfortable to allow you to pass through here. Because they were afraid you were going to come with an entourage of security. And they’re nervous. So you came just with your friends here. And it’s a lot easier to get to where we gotta be if we go through there (motions to the road on the other side of the tracks), then it is to go all the way around. So maybe we should pack up the table and get in the car, and all drive over there.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: thank you.

(BREAK)

(MEETING RESUMES INDOORS AT THE COUNCIL HOUSE, FOLLOWING A MEAL PUT ON BY THE COMMUNITY.)

 KANENHARIYO: Earlier, when we were at the tracks, you said you were here at our disposal, or I can’t remember exactly how it was worded, but, (that’s its) our choice how it’s going to go, but that’s not entirely true, because we have a certain set of protocols, and way of conducting ourselves, and we’re here together. And we’re coming together to try to address something, and you’ve come requesting to do this. Of course we’re establishing we asked the same thing a while ago (referencing the January 20 letter sent to PM Justin Trudeau re: Wetsuweten).

So, you and I spoke on the phone the other day, and we talked about how this might happen today and we agreed it’d be better not to have any media here. So in light of that, everybody in here has got a cellphone in their pocket, and my thinking, my concern about the media being here, my concern is that their take or their spin could interfere. My thoughts are that maybe we need to address the issue of the cellphones, we need to not have them interfere in our business here. I want to know what your thoughts are on that, because we have to decide some of this housekeeping stuff together. It’s not a matter of you just come here and do whatever hoop we jump through, because we have to be honest and earnest with one another and we have to navigate some things, and if we don’t deal with our housekeeping then we’re going to have a hard time in the whole rest of it.

So that was my thoughts. I don’t know if we can ask everybody to take their cellphones and put them into a hat somewhere? Certainly I think we need to be respectful of the scenario and the severity of the situation and seek to not cause diplomatic relations to get interrupted.

MINISTER MARC MILLER:I’m kind of two minds on it. I mean, I guess I didn’t come here to tell people when they can use their cell phones or not. But I think you know people behave differently when they have a camera around their faces, regardless of whether they want to or not. People feel like they need to record. I can’t stop it. I didn’t know we’re recording. So. This will be recorded for posterity. I always find it better to turn it off so we can have a discussion and maybe the phones will go off or whatever. But I don’t want to prevent anyone from doing something that they feel they need to do for the reasons that they think are appropriate. I feel behavior changes when you’re feeling watched. I think everyone knows that, but I’m not going to stop anyone from doing it. I’m not recording anything.

KANENHARIYO: Well, I think there’s an understandable lack of trust, and a fear. So we are very upfront, we’re going to record this for our own posterity: our own record of what’s transpired. Certainly for our people in the past, we’ve had meetings and we’ve had agreements and shake hands and everybody’s happy that we got it done, even signed a document and then after the fact ten minutes later, a different story gets told about what happened.

So we need to document that so that in the event that as it happens, we can say well no, wait a minute, that’s not how it happened. That’s not how we recall. So I hope you understand it.

So, where to go from here? We talked about the Two Row earlier and we reminded you that we’re going to pursue forward with this, that that’s the basis of this relationship.

We’re not one here, we’re two (referencing Canada and the Mohawk Nation are not one, but two entities as outlines in the Two Row Wampum Belt). And this is the nature of how this is.

So I need to share something with you, so that we’re upfront in the beginning. First of all, I need to know that you understand that and that you’re agreeing that we’re moving forward in a direction and not just smiling at or looking at me and saying nothing. I would like to hear how you feel about that, because if not then we might wind up not talking any further in like 4 seconds. Simple.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Well I think we need to have an open discussion over what, before I say what I’m going to say I think, unless you disagree, there needs to be an opportunity for people in this room to speak. I think there’s a lot of people who have had a lot of time to think, not only over the last 9 days, but over a longer period of time. And perhaps that’s the best way to get things started.

I’m not asking for any results at the end of this meeting. I know what I would like to achieve. And I think that at the end of this meeting everyone will know. Ideally, Canada will want to know as well and I think a lot of you will perhaps want to have your voices recorded so that all of Canada can know. Both sides of which are hurting right now. I think there’s an opportunity to work at something together. My feeling is whether we come out of here with one mind, we should stand together at the very least, even if we aren’t in agreement. We should say things openly, honestly.

Media serves a very important role in politics. They get things out and they have their ways of behaving. But I think for everyone here that hasn’t had a chance to be listened to, there should be an opportunity to speak and if it’s respectful and open, I’ll stand with you no matter how hard a message you want to have. Ideally, I would like the opportunity, and I don’t gamble. I don’t play poker. I played blackjack twice in my life. I didn’t like it. I don’t know. I don’t play poker and I’m not gaming this out, but I would like to be in a position where there would be some trust to give time to my Prime Minister, and the Premier of BC to engage in a respectful fashion with the Wet’suwet’en in a short time period, no question.

A lot of the stuff I see growing in my community is getting worse and that scares me. I was talking, outside this context, I was talking the other day about, and I’ll keep it short because I think people should be allowed to speak, but I was talking the other day about the investments of this government and what it was doing and so on and so forth. My biggest fear is that it doesn’t continue and it doesn’t continue because people turn.

And we haven’t informed non-Indigenous Canadians enough of why it’s important to move forward, move the relationship forward as slowly as it goes and it scares me. I’ll be quite honest. I’m in a minority government that could be tossed out on Tuesday. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but we have parties in the House of Commons, regardless of your views on them, that are aligned on Indigenous issues. So I’m not, but I think we have the numbers and I think we can make good progress. I talked earlier about water advisories being unacceptable, but we’re getting good work done. I have my team, my senior team is here with me today and I know the work that we do and I spent last week traveling to some of those areas but there’s a lot more work to be done.

I also said that the biggest impediment for me to getting things done and I know I know people talk about the money, but it’s the trust. There’s stuff where we have, we’re ready to go, but the trust isn’t there. And, I can’t…we earned it, we walked into it.

It’s my biggest frustration on a daily basis. So, we use a lot of buzzwords for our relationship. But I see it, I’m optimistic. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t optimistic, but it’s slow. It’s painful. It’s not linear. Sometimes we take a step back and it’s frustrating, but I think we can get forward and I’ll stop talking on that.

But I know what I want at the end of this meeting. I would hope that we could move forward on two fronts: a show of trust that includes opening things up and allowing things to proceed, but also not leaving it at that.

Moving forward on issues of leadership in the community, across Canada but allowing a cool(ing) period. Because my worry is as I mentioned earlier in that, ideally I would like that opportunity for, the Prime Minister and the Premier to be able to engage with leadership, but it hasn’t been engaged in that way in some time and that’s on us, but, time, time is tough, and I’ll leave it at that.

KANENHARIYO: So we spoke yesterday, we had a meeting yesterday, and I appreciate your desire to encourage the people to speak up and to share. And there’s lots of people here who have things that they’re feeling. But we’ve got some business to attend to. And we have procedure and we have a way that we do our business, and we have been selected here to talk (gestures to the spokespeople at the table). And our Clans are with us and behind us. And we have a way that we proceed forward.

There’s been a number of people who were wanting to say something. There’s been some talk about maybe after we get done a certain distance with this then we can open that up. But I caution you, what you’re asking for. And I’m reluctant to say, “Yeah let’s do that”, because I want to make sure that we end today in a good place. I’m concerned that there are people who are very hurting. And you said, as long as they’re respectful and whatever, and I’m not entirely sure that you’re going to be able to handle what’s said to you.

I asked you if we’re going to proceed forward in a relationship with the Two Row.

I’m going to tell you a beautiful story. It’s very important to us that we are clear about where we are in this relationship and I’m not trying to be a bully or whatever. But if we’re not going to talk and be forthcoming up front, then what’s the point of talking? So that’s where we are.

We see ourselves in our own boat in our own ship with our own laws and our own rules and our own everything, and you in yours. And yours don’t apply to us. And if we can’t start there then we’re not gonna get anywhere.

So I’m asking you, can we agree that we’re talking in this manner, in this context, so we can move forward. Um. Some questions that have already been raised. And the reason is because this is housekeeping. And I also need to raise something else. But we’re going to address this one first, and then I think we can proceed. There might be more on your side, but I don’t know.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I believe we can move forward on the basis you described. I have difficulty talking about the Tow Row because I’m only beginning to gain an appreciation of it, and it’s something, as I learn, I respect deeply. But we’ve got work in government to recognize that, as a government.

There are a number of other treaties that have not been respected. I believe in the principles of the Two Row. I believe it is embodied in a number of mechanisms that we can perfect – that I do want to make sure that no one leaves here, um, thinking all this can happen in one day.

KANENHARIYO: No. [in agreement]

MINISTER MARC MILLER: And I believe it’s, I don’t want to get involved, we can if we want, but I don’t want to get into a long discussion about Section 35. I am surprised in Indigenous communities by how many people know about the constitution because often they are the first victims of it, but I believe we can, I believe we can proceed on the basis of whether those principles are respected and observed. And I recognize that they have been violated all too often.

I have more learning to do and this isn’t a lack of will. I want to make sure that people understand where my mind is, and the difficult steps that need to be taken in order to make sure we get there. That involves us getting our minds on Indigenous peoples, the government getting our minds around it, and also work in communities as we work on concepts of nationhood, in the case of, I am talking about Canada at large, but that chooses to organize itself in confederacy or their treaties. We haven’t been good at moving on the terms told to us, as in self-determination. We realize that now but again it’s slow, uhm, so I just wanted to preface that. I agree with the principles of the Two Row as I understand that. But I think I will leave it at that.

KAIATIHTAKAEH: Before we go any further, we need to know – we talk a lot about trust – what does trust mean to you? Because in Canada there’s two different trusts. One to do with money and one to do with self, so we don’t know what trust you’re talking about and what it means to you.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I think we are talking about ourselves. If I trusted a lot of people that were giving me advice I wouldn’t have come here. But I took a risk and trusted people that told me he had a good heart (motioning to KANENHARIYO) I took a risk and I took a leap of faith and I think that’s what trust is. You got to, again it doesn’t mean we’re not gonna mess up, make mistakes, but it is personal. I keep seeing throughout this is our biggest impediment.

I recognize how difficult it is and how you look at me skeptically. I probably deserve it but again I’m learning and I’m a product of my upbringing. I am not going to, I guess I don’t have to lecture you, but I’ll be doing it over again but I am committed to moving forward. And that’s something I have committed to personally on a lot of levels. I’ll be working at it after I get tossed out. [Laughter] Never know. But I know it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy. I don’t think it is easy for anyone in this room. You know we are here today because people don’t understand each other. I think at some point, I said it earlier and I’ll say it again and I’ll say this evening: people, the media pinging me all the time wanting to talk and I’ve deliberately avoided them over the last few days and communicated through emails because sometimes we talk to each other through a medium, and it makes the situation worse cause words get twisted.

I saw in media that I put conditions on our meeting. I put none, as the people here know. I put none.

KANENHARIYO: Yeah, none.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: And they say, ah Marc Miller is bending to their needs. That’s not what I am doing.

[laughter]

KANENHARIYO: No, that’s a game.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: So we ignore and at some point we will all talk to the media and hopefully we will stand there together. We have got to realize at some point that that stuff on social media and Twitter distorts things. People can call me up. Enough people have my phone number. Now everyone has my email [laughter, referencing the email confirmation from him that he was coming to meet which was posted on line] because that got out on the internet. It’s fine if it’s a respectful email, I’ll answer it, but you know it, the one thing I realized when I got into this portfolio was it gets personal very quickly.

Everything is personal and, I’m a minister that deals with very large numbers but if you can’t act with your heart and one day perhaps I’ll share with you my first two days in the role, but it wasn’t easy. It was not easy at all. It was not easy on my team. There’s two portfolios with government that are painful to deal with, Indigenous issues, because it gets very personal, if you care, it gets personal very quickly, as you know with politics and communities. And Veterans Affairs and those are two big files that, I am not going to say they’re equal by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not something we have been particularly good at addressing in a proper way. But I know the way it impacts people pales in comparison to what goes on in communities but, you know you got to have people that you trust, the people who are here with me today I trust, and we are building a team we trust. We are trying to build a team of Indigenous affairs that has Indigenous people in it. They take it much differently because they get looked at in a way that’s different, because they have good hearts and they’re trying to change things and they are trying to change our minds from within. And it’s, I think it’s slowly working. It’s not easy. It’s all based on trust. So I think I will leave it at that. I don’t know if I answered your question properly but I answered in the way I understood it.

TEHAHENTEH: Just before we get into further discussions, one of the first things you mentioned was coming into meeting with Indigenous people, that you are running into this wall of this trust issue. But the trust issue, as you know, historically, there is a reason for it. And it hasn’t stopped. I mean it’s just compounded one hurt on top of another, throughout history and everybody here knows what the history is.

You are learning the history. And to us, we are pretty much of one mind.

Even though we express it differently, we care deeply about our environment. Deeply.

You’ve have just experienced going through what we call “the giving of thanks.” That’s the basis for everything. So to be able to build trust, it has to be built on something and it has to be built on action.

So in other words, if we’re not following up by action that demonstrates it’s trustful, that’s the basis of all the discussion that takes this forward.

So two things – we are talking about our environment and we are talking about the protection of that environment because our lives depend on it.

Our lives as Onkwehonwe, original people, have changed so drastically that it would make your head spin if you had to see it throughout your lifetime. This is just the tip of the iceberg right now. And, we feel very deeply and passionate about it. And so you being a representative from your government, this is the message you need to take back. Because even according to your own law, what’s going on in Wet’suwet’en territory, you are not even following your own protocols. You’re not following your own laws. And that is the part that breeds the non-trust as you’re still, when I say you, I’m not saying you personally – I’m talking about the collective mentality of colonialism.

KANENHARIYO: I have to address another issue. There’s a couple of these things. So yesterday we were talking and there was a great deal of discussion about the nature of our relationship with the Crown.

How we understand our relationship is we have a treaty with your sovereign who is the Queen of England. And we have a direct relationship with her. Like she comes here. Like she has a church to go and pray in, that we’ve had for 300 years, because we had it in the valley and then we rebuilt it over here. Her Royal [Anglican Church[1] ]. There are two in the whole of Canada and they’re both in our territories and it’s because of the nature of our relationship.  

You aren’t Americans. You didn’t sever yourselves or put up a war against her. She’s still on your money. You don’t tell your children that she’s the Head of State, but she’s your Head of State, and that is a direct relationship with us.

So there was talk (referencing the discussion held at People’s Meeting held the day prior to this meeting), There was a desire, there was a concern about you coming here with this little entourage, like you are low and fairly insignificant in the nature of the situation and there were people that were concerned that we’re polishing the chain, or in attempts to polish this chain, with the wrong people, which threw us off course. (Referencing the request by the Minister to “Polish the Chain” when this is something that is done between the Mohawk Nation and the Queen of England). Because we don’t have treaty with Canadians or with Canada. We have a treaty with England and with Her Majesty the Queen, that family that grants your sovereignty. Without her you don’t have sovereignty here. Because it is connected to your relationship with us.

That’s how we understand it. Because of the Two Row and because of the [Covenant Chain: Mohawk language] Covenant Chain. You’re allowed to have some limited sovereignty over your subjects in our territory. Because there was no treaty and no Royal Proclamation at that time.

I am concerned that I don’t know what you are going to ask for. And I said I was concerned that, listening to all the people, that we won’t be able to get very far. If you are not representing your people at a high enough level or that we don’t have the representative of the Queen here, who is the Governor General. And that’s how my people understand it, and that was why I said to try and get her here. And you said, I’ll try but I don’t know whether that will happen. [background laughter] So you said to me, I’m prepared to take whatever time is necessary to get this stuff done and I said, I’ll hold you to task to that.

And I don’t actually understand, people in this room don’t really understand what you represent and what power you have to make decisions or what you can or can’t do.

You’re talking about your personal feelings, and I appreciate that. But there’s people coming over here and telling us there’s a dire situation.

We’re unaffected over here. We didn’t notice anything. Nothing’s changed. Our water’s still no good to drink. We’re still poor. We still are trying to figure how we’re going to make sure everybody’s warm. Our life didn’t change. Except that we’ve been threatened. That’s all – just threatened. So that’s something that we need to discuss so that everybody understands. How far can we go? What power is there and maybe you got strings you can call on… We can do something. Or maybe you are just here to talk to us and everything stays ready to attack us.

[2] You’re being honest, so I’m being honest with you. I’m concerned about the safety of my people and we’re all concerned about the safety of each other and this is an important issue. And so in a way it’s an emergency.

So I am asking you in what capacity are you here?

As our people understand our direct relationship is with the queen the Crown and I’ve had, I might have been involved in court case in the past and I’m sure you looked into me. If you didn’t, you should have. But I understand that there’s kind of like a provincial crown and a federal crown and those are new things that were created after this treaty was made and so we don’t understand who you are.

More recently, you guys created a political structure that is like water. It’s like we cannot do anything, you might not be here tomorrow and everything’s going to change. So it’s like you don’t have any strength. You don’t have the ability to keep your word because you built something that does not have any capacity.

So we’re going to have to find a way to do that. Otherwise, I don’t know how we move forward. So maybe you can answer that – in what capacity are you here? And maybe you can explain how the Governor General works for you guys, because, how we understand she, the Governor General is the direct representation of the Queen who is the Head of State and who we have a relationship with and a treaty with and can say, Listen guys, this is how you deal with Indians. Cause otherwise we are in a deadlock. Let’s be creative.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I’m a Minister of the Crown.I have a voice and a vote around the cabinet table. It serves as the Executive function of the legislature in Canada. Everyone is familiar with the Westminster Parliamentary System.

The Governor General is as you describe her. She’s the Queen’s representative. Much of Canadian Law is, as yours is, customary. There is stuff written down in the Constitution, and that’s is the nature of the Canadian parliamentary system which is that formally the Governor General exercises the Royal prerogative on advice and consent of Cabinet, that is represented through the Prime Minister.

The nature of the system has moved slowly to a system where the Prime Minister exercises, in practice, along with Cabinet the highest executive function. And so I can’t get the queen here [smile]. That’s no secret…

KANENHARIYO: Can’t get the…? [laughter]

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I am, I am a representative in so far as I’m a Minister of the Crown and that is counsel to her Majesty.

Again, the treaties that you mention existed before our constitution. They’ve formally and legally not been respected. Anyone who’s examined the court cases know that. Anyone that examined any court cases knows that.

I believe we have room to be creative, to move forward. I have been told and I don’t pretend that it’s true but I have been told that the formal ceremonial polishing of the chain is with confederacy and it occurs with our Majesty or the Governor General, perhaps with the Prime Minister.

I confess that that’s the end of my knowledge on that matter.

I told you before and I will repeat it again that over the last year on my own time as my role as, before I was a Minister, I was engaged with the External Relations Committee of the Confederacy, in slow steps in addressing issues of governance, and as I mentioned to some of our friends at lunch, we cannot deny the fact that Canadian governments suppress the longhouse system and destroy certain communities.

We can’t deny that fact in our country, this is not something that most people know, we tend to take the simple process of going through elected council.

And we know that, but as you know, this is not the end of the story. You know your community better than I do. It doesn’t mean we can’t be creative, it does not mean we can’t move forward. It doesn’t mean that slowly we can’t make a difference.

It’s probably precipitated the matter to the forefront of people’s mind. I think everyone now is googling what traditional relationship is because it’s the first time most people thought about it.

I don’t know the intricacies of Wet’suwet’en leadership. I am only scratching the surface on yours. I say so annoyingly that I probably said a lot of things are totally wrong in the last ten minutes or five minutes but I have undertaken that as a Minister of Crown to do so. I believe there is opportunity but it’s not going to be easy. It means people have, in communities as well have to think about that and cross-border issues pose an enormous problems as well. So, I’ll leave it at that but I say let’s be creative.

KAWENNIIOSTA: So, I’m sitting here listening to you, but not once, while I was sitting listening to you, have you acknowledged or you said that you respect the way we carry or conduct ourselves. Not once did I hear you say you acknowledge what we are addressing. You just keep saying: I can appreciate it. Those are two different things – appreciating and actually acknowledging it.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I think it’s easy for me to say I acknowledge it, that I acknowledge the principles. I think it is one of the reasons why we have such difficulty trying to wrap our minds around how to respect it. This hasn’t been, these were built on military alliances for survival. It’s mentioned in the opening words today, and so I have no trouble saying that I acknowledge it. I meant it as a word of respect and not, from a personal perspective. If I hesitated, it’s because I am a Minister of the Crown and I know that in the past we have not respected it. And I can’t guarantee that in the future, mistakes won’t be made. And in fairness to everything I hear, including through other governance mechanisms of elected councils, the Two Row is held up in Haudenosaunee communities, (it) makes it very difficult to proceed on modern governance as we call it, because of the fundamental objection to Section 35 in the Constitution. Because what is being asserted is treaties, arrangements and covenants that existed prior to the Constitution. And so, I have no hesitation in saying I acknowledge it. And it comes from deep respect and not anything else.

JACKIE HALL: I have to say this, if you acknowledge it, you would not be speaking in (Mohawk Language).

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Thank you for your words, I – maybe I should clarify, why I, unless people don’t feel it’s the right thing, why I started to learn [the Mohawk Language], and again, in a very selfish way, – well, do people have time to?

KANENHARIYO: We have all the time [crowd laughter].

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I was talking about my breakfast with [ ]. He said I didn’t understand a word I was saying because they talk too fast. [laughter] […] I, this is going to be a long story. There are some personal aspects to it, and um, some professional aspects to it. I started out in politics as what is Chair of the Quebec Caucus, which means I have to kind of herd all my Quebec MPs. And in the House of Commons, there are people that were afraid to speak French because they were unilingual. As an MP in Quebec, it’s very important to encourage in the House of Commons you use French because it’s constantly under threat and people will start to see a number of analogies, even worse in fact. And so, um, we respectfully try to get our fellow unilingual MPs to start speaking up French and taking a risk. I was given French and English as a kid. I have learned my wife’s language Swedish, later in life. It was a huge struggle, but I was given English and French. And I took it for granted. And as I was encouraging my other colleagues, it was at the same time as I was doing roundtables in Quebec with various indigenous leadership educators, speakers, I perhaps even Kevin attended one of those. And again, my knowledge of indigenous things is very new. And I admit it readily. And So a lot of what we were hearing from elders and people as we engaged, and it was reason the first law passed was Indigenous Languages Law was, Languages are under threat and in the next thirty years, if the Canadian Government does not invest in something that it tried to destroy, there are only four or five viable languages left. And it opens up a lot of painful discussions over residential schools, over languages that were ripped away from people. Intergenerational trauma and so I said to myself, very naively, why don’t I try to put my money where my mouth is and learn an indigenous language. And since, I represent downtown Montreal as a Member of Parliament. I said how hard could it be to learn Mohawk? [Laughter] I told you I was a bit, I was very naive. [laughter] and so like I’m going to learn Mohawk. I served in armed forces, I got friends with that were from […] that’s a different story in itself, uh, that definitely resonates but it’s perhaps for another time. So I thought, I started digging for resources and I fell upon a course that is given at Six Nations by one of the […] Hopkins. And I phoned them up. I must admit, they were probably a bit skeptical but they were very generous with their time and they said you can sign up for this online course and start following the words, so I started it. I worked really hard at it, really hard at it and I still try to do it every day, it’s very difficult. And I progressively started chipping away at it. So, it’s been an immense learning experience. Half, about three or four months in, I know I can’t honestly say why I had the idea but I decided to give a one-minute speech to the House of Commons to, and with respect, something together, with help from some elders, help with […] to different people looking at something I could say for about a minute, and I did it. I didn’t realize the carry on effect it would have. And then, and then the next, feeling somewhat proud of myself after realizing I did a good thing I just did it out of respect and it kind of went viral, and um, I acknowledge your words when you say that, uh, I’m not trying to change your mind. I just want to explain why I –. The next morning when I woke up, my wife looked at me and said you’re full of shit if you don’t continue your lessons. [laughter] And she is right, she is right because I started down this road and um, I enjoyed it, I frankly enjoyed it. Selfishly I want to be able to communicate and talk, but I think the biggest learning experience from it is it has opened up a very privileged window to a community I am not from and I will never will be from, but it’s allowed me to understand and as elected leaders, we are sometimes lazy I think and we engage with a Chief and we go out and we say I met this person, I know all about this community now. The unintended positive effect of this is that I met a lot of people that are passionate about their language, that are passionate about revitalization, passionate about their culture. Not politicians but political and they know where they stand and they know their views and un[…] communities that means traditional leadership more often than not, and as a Quebec MP or as a person that grew up with a French-English battle in Quebec, knowing how important French language is to identity, I should have known and all Canadians should know how important language is to identity and culture. We didn’t. In fact, we did the contrary. So it’s allowed me to communicate, understand, like I said, selfishly, I want to be able to speak cause I feel ashamed when I don’t understand. I am like really slow computer from the 80’s. things go in there and then, sort of 20 minutes later, I understand what went on. I don’t mean to… my job is not to lecture people about learning. Um, I find it ironic that we can say, as, nonindigenous people  “hello” in 15 language but we can’t in any Indigenous language. I do it as a mark of respect and not disrespect, but most importantly, it’s allowed me to get a very privileged window that can be shut quickly on people I didn’t know before, and I am very grateful for that knowledge. I am very for the people that have supported me. And one of those passed away. I understand how that can be wounding people to see a guy like me with red hair, I’m not pretending to be someone else, I speak it only out of respect. So, I don’t intend to change anyone. My idea is to communicate. It’s just to communicate and to understand. Thank you. I didn’t speak today, out of respect, because I understand how it can be perceived and I would have people felt that it was right. I am still working at it but I understand, I understand, do appreciate and acknowledge your point of view.

KANENHARIYO:  We still have business on the table that we have got to have a creative way to deal with it because right now and the whole world got text message and Twitter and everything that you were coming here to try to deal with that.

And you’re telling me you’re here to fix up our relationship. Hopefully Tuesday you are not fired (laughter).

We don’t want to waste your time. You have a friend and his name is Justin Trudeau. And I need to point something out to you. I’m concerned this is going to fall on deaf ears but I’m going to say it. You mentioned something, you keep mentioning Section 35. Those are for you.

…The BNA Act …said you can’t go over there, make deals and live on those lands and do deals with Indians without having a treaty with them. You can still do business with Indians but you have to get permit from the King. Right? Cause there was still respect for the difference and separation. And then land reserved for Indians became reserve lands. A very different thing.

So you got a judge over there who coordinated an injunction on a territory that you don’t have a treaty with those people. And your constitution that your Queen signed off on, said that the Royal Proclamation is the founding document in Canada. You don’t get to override it. It’s embedded in the Constitution. Says you must have a treaty with them before you do something  on those lands.

So you got a judge to break the constitution and issued an injunction that she did not have the right to do.

And then your friend (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) employed and encouraged and the RCMP moved along and they exercised the injunction and they entered lands you don’t have a treaty with.

In Delgamuukw, it was clear. There is no treaty.

And then you removed those people from their traditional territories, from their different families, Gitemden family, Unist’ot’en, all those individual clans…all territorial lands, it’s theirs.

And those RCMP went in there and yanked them out of their own lands. Pregnant women. On their own traditional territory in their own villages, pulled them off their lands.

That’s a crime against humanity.

Yous committed a crime.

You broke your own Constitution.

You committed an international crime.

There’s genocide going on there and people don’t like to talk about that because they think it means loading people on trains taking them to gas chambers.

But your friend (JT), I believe, may be criminal. Because he supported that. And my hope is that you all of you accidentally did that.

So I say let’s be creative.

Who’s gonna take responsibility for that?

And how are we gonna address that?

Because I hear people say “it’s not my job to tell them get out of there”. (referencing Justin Trudeau saying they can’t tell the RCMP to leave Wet’suwet’en territories).

Well whose job is it when they’re committing a crime?

Cause those individual officers are involved in a crime. And in other places in the world, when a crime like that is committed, those individual officers are held accountable, aren’t they? Including the decision makers.

CROWD: (audible agreement)

KANENHARIYO: And this is where we are right now aren’t we?. We can talk about mistakes. Mistakes are “oops, I said the wrong thing. I apologize.” But what we are talking about is a crime against humanity and Canada broke international Law and broke its own constitution and then blamed the judge and blamed the RCMP who said, ‘We have to execute it (the injunction).’

So there is not proper licensing been done with LNG.

There’s not proper environmental assessments that have been finished.

The hereditary Chiefs offered an alternative route.

You don’t have a treaty, which means you can’t exert the dominion of Canada over that territory legally.

And you have an illegal judge make an illegal injunction and then have RCMP, who are the Royal Canadian Mountain Police, who are militarized police who are underneath jurisdiction of the Crown, enter into those territories with helicopters and AR15s on peaceful people living in their own territory, and you remove them from their territory and you make an exclusion zone on their lands.

And I understand that there are some people concerned that they may have to have a boil water advisory, and we have had one here for 20 years.

So, I am concerned that your friend did something he shouldn’t have and now he isn’t even in the country. And this is the real issue. What are you going to do about it?

You said to me, I’m prepared to stay as long as I have to get this thing figured out. And I said, I promise I will keep you to it. I have an incredible amount of patience.

But, I can’t sit by and allow genocide to happen to people that I love, with people that I share food with. With people who have very similar situation to my own people. Because we are in our land. And we didn’t sell it to you. And we don’t have a treaty about land. And what you’re going to do? The same thing (to them) that you did to us.

In fact, that’s currently the situation, isn’t it?

They have an injunction against this community. Our community is backing this. Our Nation is backing this. And there is an injunction on those people. On lands that were taken by military force without a treaty, almost identical situation.

So what are we gonna do?

This is not about a little thing. This is serious business guys.

And if we need to call some people, pull some strings, and have them criminals (the RCMP) taken out of that territory then that’s what….

There is a detachment of the force there, did you know that? Did you know that the RCMP have a detachment of the force on those peoples’ land?  Are you aware of that?

That’s illegally there. It’s illegally there.

We need to talk about that. Or there is nothing to talk about.

MINISTER MARC MILLER:  I think, I can’t say that the answer I am about to give you will satisfy you, but I came here to be truthful and honest. The situation, and I wanna go back to your point about being creative cause I said it earlier, I’ll say it again, people’s safety is my number one job.

I understand there is fear. And I understand that you’re strong. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

There is no question that we are in the situation that we’re in because of, um, I’ll say it as a fact, the inability to resolve in a proper way the governance system dealing with hereditary leadership and elected leadership of the Wet’suwet’en people, they decide, and this is why we say when we talk about self-determination, it’s not on my terms. So, I can’t speak to how the governance system works in hereditary leadership in Wet’suwet’en.

KANENHARIYO: You don’t need to.

MINISTER MARC MILLER:  Delgamuukw, left a hole. I read that court case as a first year law student. I believe what it said was it was not sufficient at the time to deal only with elected leadership, that there were rights to territory of the nature they describe. Now, the challenge was then defining what that was and that was never done. We could sit here a long time and discuss that. What I don’t want to do is get in a situation where we talk about the project (CGL) and I know it’s indissociable with the land or the validity of the court injunction.

KANENHARIYO: You can’t. You can’t

MINISTER MARC MILLER: What I want to do is in a position to just tell everyone the perspective we come from and you can judge it for what it’s worth.

The court injunction was obtained with respect to a provincially delegated RCMP unit under the authority of the province that takes this decision separately from politicians.

As you well know, the Ipperwash situation was caused by political interference to help police do their job.

Now, you may say that was brushed under the carpet but lessons were learned as to how engagement occurred. If this situation were 20 years earlier, I’m not sure we would have responded in this way. I can’t speak to it authoritatively, but I’m not sure we’d have responded to it in this way.

The BC Premier and Prime Minister and Minister Bennett are engaged in a process where they are engaging with leadership –  that takes time because of what we discussed, various issues of trust and engagement, making sure people are present. We know that, I can’t predict the outcome of that, but what I do want to make sure of is that we can do this in a peaceful way.

I think as we look at things, you and other advocates, forceful advocates of your peoples, have gotten the attention of Canada in a way that has seldom occurred in the past. There is no question about it, there’s no denying it. Canada is hurting. And I understand the irony that you raised. It’s not lost on me because I’ve got, how many do I have left? 80 boil water advisories that I have to get rid of by the end of March 2021.  Depending on the conditions of the winter roads this winter, it will still be a challenge. We’ve got a lot of challenges. We are resolutely focused on ensuring that’s done and so I get your point about the chlorine transportation. I get it. I get it.

My hope is that we can get to a way, get to a place where you’ve have been heard, there are concrete steps we can engage in to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

KANENHARIYO: You got to get something else more concrete than that.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: The challenge I face is that I have got to go and make sure that, I trust my colleagues would do it, but that we are all on the same page and that we move forward. Because this issue isn’t going away. This issue is not going away and it will happen again and again and again until we get it right. So I’m here to get it right.

I believe in my government, I believe in the steps they will take to make sure engagement is respectful and perhaps mistakes will be made. But we’re focused on getting this right. There are more projects that are going and they need permissions. I can’t take the terms on which they obtain consent in the community. Community has a process. Nations have their process. As do you.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: You want us to lay down and trust that you will do your part when you haven’t ever in the past? And you’re here to try to talk us into waiting for that to happen and letting the trains go and not stopping them. We’re not going to let it happen again and again. We’re going to continue it until it changes. This is not going away and we’ve asked that you admit if you will acknowledge that these people are trying. You didn’t even touch on that. You went right past it. Did you think we wouldn’t notice?

KANENHARIYO: I need to say something. I know this is going to be tricky.

Your government made up this thing called the Indian Act because you didn’t let the Indians have their own way of governance. And you came around and imposed it on everybody.

And you provided a funding formula after you created starvation. And meanwhile people weren’t able to leave their own territories, do their own business. You continued to maintain trade embargos on us, internationally. You maintained that you are the supreme dominion here. But we never had that before. We did business with the Dutch, Germans and everybody. And all of each other. And you maintained the trade embargo on them and we have to pay your duties.

And you came in our territories, in fact, right here in this place – this building here used to be two stories. With a place to sleep above, a Place where ceremonial councils were held.

And you came here and you forcefully removed the Rotiyaner and Yotiyaner (traditional chiefs and clan mothers).

You used Duncan Campbell Scott. You tricked the confederacy to have a great law recital which you paid for and you documented it. The John Arthur Gibson version. You removed all the checks and balances. And then went to cabinet and to the councils to say ‘this isn’t democracy. This is dictatorship and we can no longer acknowledge this form of government and we need to implement the Indian Act’ on their system. Then you came and then you did that here. And then you did it at Oswego.

I have spoken to people who were there when that happened. They’re passed away now, of course. They came and called on me. They stole the bonds. They stole our money.

And then you did it everywhere else.

You forcibly forced the Indian Act on everybody and yous created the elected Band Council system.

You’re asking for permission from yourself.

The Indian Act band councils are extensions of Indian Act which is an extension of the federal government.

You’re seeking permission from yourself.

That’s not permission.

That’s not consent.

It’s the same thing.

For a long long time you have denied having any (…) with traditional government and now you tell me how this feels and how we are going to work on it.

Yet you’re still talking about consent with first nations. First nations are reserves. That’s just a nice name for reserves. Which is a nice name for a concentration camp.

When you signed onto the Geneva Convention on the Rights of Human Beings to strike cultural genocide, you required that that had to be removed as one of the kinds of genocide there are before you would sign on, then you have the audacity to have Mr. Sinclair talk about what happened here in the residential schools and you used the word “cultural genocide” so you had no liability.

I’m not here to scold you but we gotta talk the truth and not talk about fluff.

We need to have a real discussion about what we are going to do. Because you’re currently committing genocide.

 You’ve got a government that has committed acts of crimes against humanity, its in motion right now. We are not talking about historical events.

Can you tell me how the government can’t interfere with police? Because you learned about it at Ipperwash inquiry when they shot somebody?

Well then, who controls the police? Who pulls them out?  Who says “wait a minute, you just committed a crime?” How do we do that? Are they lawless or are they just running? The province doesn’t have a treaty so they don’t own the land and so they can’t exert sovereignty over them. Your constitution says so. You can’t avoid that. And it doesn’t matter if you get consent from yourself. Anywhere in the world they would say that’s ridiculous. Wouldn’t they? We know that. You’re talking about honesty and sharing about yourself. This isn’t even debatable. It is just facts.

So what are we gonna do about this? Because you got angry people out there who feel like the Indians are not being fair to them. And you need to be honest about what’s going on. And don’t tell me that it’s tumultuous and difficult. I am not sure but I am pretty sure that whoever said go ahead and go in there is liable. And that’s crime what has happened there. It is not negotiable, it’s a crime.

It doesn’t matter if you spent some money there. ‘Cuz the people whose territory that is, Wet’suwet’en, and their leadership, their hereditary leadership their clans responsible for those territories said “no.”

And your friend (JT) said the First Nations don’t have the veto on energy projects. Well, it doesn’t.

But the hereditary system does.

And your constitution says it. Because you are stuck with the proclamation and you are stuck with the things that the Queen left behind and the King left behind before you and me, and you don’t get to avoid them. You don’t get to ignore them. Pretend that they don’t exist. So what power does the Governor General have? ‘Cuz maybe we can get these things solved.   

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Governor General acts on advice and consent of cabinet upon recommendation. To pretend otherwise would be wrong. And as to you earlier matters. I think we need to get to the facts. I think a lot of what’s been going on is the result of various flows of information. And I think what’s been realized by both the BC Premier and the Prime Minister is that there needs to be engagement with people that haven’t been engaged with in the past. We go to elected council on a regular basis. 

KANENHARIYO: You made them. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I understand that. No, I appreciate that. I would by no stretch of the imagination say that they take it easy on us. They don’t. 

KANENHARIYO: They are worse on us. (crowd laughter) 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I can only speak to… I don’t live in this community. I had some interactions with Chief Maracle. I had some interactions with Chiefs who are fierce advocates for the people that elected them. And I do acknowledge that the Federal government had a role in destroying the structures that people have fought to preserve to this day. This is…

KANENHARIYO: Those people you banned their ability to council meetings. You made their pot latches illegal. The way in which they make decisions and then after you did that you applied that to all the rest of us. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I would say to you that we are slowly learning.  

KANENHARIYO:  Well, without the speeding things up. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER:  Like I said, people here have the attention of Canada. You have the attention of Canada and an opportunity to send a message. I know you know that. 

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Inaudible

MINISTER MARC MILLER:  I know the gentleman here speaking maybe makes sense to…I will leave it to your discretion but…

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Inaudible

MINISTER MARC MILLER: No but the gentleman here would like to speak and it is not for me to say. 

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Inaudible

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Again, you decide. I want to come to a conclusion that we move forward peacefully in a way that respects our relationship. I don’t wanna dig in, it is everything against I believe in.

In my position, I came here to listen and talk in a respectful fashion. I would like to hear. I believe there is a way forward that allows us to stand proudly and say and have people hear that message. Because you’re a leader in your communities…I am a leader in mine. But if we don’t get that message out to our followers and if they don’t come on board. We will keep making these mistakes again and again and again. I met some great people in the last two hours. I wouldn’t have this not happen. There is good things coming out of it. 

KANENHARIYO: Yes, that’s true. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I am a minister of the crown of a department. My deputy ministers would admit this, that sometimes behaves in a colonial way. My job is to get rid of my department. It is a very weird position to be in.

KANENHARIYO: We will gladly help you (laughter)

MINISTER’S CHIEF OF STAFF: and we need your help. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: It has an immense job to do to close the socio-economic gap that has lasted too long and it is too large and it is unacceptable. I readily acknowledge that. We face that challenge everyday.

When we talk about being practical, we can dig in our philosophies and our thinking or we can stand together and move forward.

And I have taken that small engagement and your contention to me is it is not going fast enough. And perhaps you are right.

But I am hopeful. I am hopeful. 

KANENHARIYO: There is a certain level of agitation in the room as it is a heavy talk and it is emotional. So there has been a request to take a little break to breath, have a glass of water, stretch our backs. I encourage everyone to not to go too hostile (laughter), stay peaceful and we will keep talking here and we will touch on some heavy topics but they are real ones.

There are people who are standing in the cold right now all across the country. Not just here, right? We are gonna have to figure out how we are gonna intervene in this situation or this is gonna go sideways, right? No, that’s not a threat. It is just to look at what has happened. Right?

We have to figure out a solution in how do we get those people (RCMP) to remove themselves from those people’s territory. 

That‘s what the mandate that put forward here by the people and they are not prepared to allow the trains to pass through their land until the RCMP are out of there.

That’s what’s happening.

We’ve clearly laid out what’s going on.

There has been crime against humanity. And what has happened is Canada has ventured into territory that they don’t own. They don’t have a treaty and that is against the constitution of Canada to do so.

My teachers used to say. When we live with you guys, we have to sometimes help you navigate a way out of a situation, not just dig in our heels.

We need to start talking about how we are gonna navigate ourselves out of this. And I am gonna lay out some of the things because some people need to be accountable and maybe there is (  I don’t know. Maybe ??? raised that there was a mistake made by that judge, just a sheer lack of knowledge. Maybe there is a time that we have a leader that will back up and look at those licences and say that wait a minute maybe those aren’t finished yet. Maybe we need to pursue so hardly. Maybe you need to call more of your Cabinet here so we can get some business done. And get the Governor General here so that people here feel like our relationship is still the same as it has always been even though you guys changed.  And just another little added piece to it. you said about the confederacy and the relationship. But we are at the Eastern door. Your relationship is with the Mohawks. Our relationship is with the Confederacy. And you came through the East, through us. And that’s why there is two Queen, two ??? churches in our territory because it is associated with our Silver Chain Covenant relationship. That’s the ??? with us, and in extension our allies. There is a nervousness to deal with the Mohawks. But we are still here. And hopefully we can find a solution. I believe that we can. I believe that this can turn to a positive. I believe that we can take …

(someone goes and whispers something in Kanenhariyo’s ear). 

KANENHARIYO: I just got word there is a bus load of cops and 6 cruisers. 

(Murmurs in the crowd, people are getting up to go to the window to look outside.) 

KANENHARIYO: you investigate your end. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Well, people should stay calm because obviously this is not the intention. But let’s check and we will get back to you. 

 (People are told we are going to take a break so the reports of increased police presence at the Wyman road encampment can be verified or denied. During the break a non-Mohawk person approaches the Ministers and causes a disruption by yelling at the Minister, this has been edited out as it was not related to the discussion regarding Wet’suwet’en and Tyendinaga)

(Informal discussions take place in this waiting period)

KANENHARIYO: Just before we broke, there was a little bit of excitement there. Apparently there was some police presence noticed, and a little bit of confusion about who and what and where and what was happening. So from what I understand though I didn’t physically go out there and look myself, I had figured out there was a Mr. Miller’s police detail followed him over even though we had asked them to remain back. He was unaware and we were unaware that their presence, however, above them encouraged them maybe to stay the course, whatever. So anyways that’s what that was. Although there was also noticed presence of the local–the SWAT team that’s been here for a few days now, re-present again. To black vans have been hanging out on the road. Buses?

UNKNOWN PERSON: A few buses 

KANENHARIYO: Buses? Are they orange buses or black buses? 

UNKNOWN PERSON: No they’re uh, they’re passenger vans

UNKNOWN PERSON: I believe they’re school buses.

KANENHARIYO: Oh passenger vans. Yeah, okay. Anyways so there is a little bit of presence. I don’t know that it’s added presence. I believe that it had been here for a few days already. Anyways, just so that everybody understands and knows that’s what was occurring and we can be calm again for a little bit. So we were just talking about the fact that it’s getting late in the day, and we talked about heavy things and Mr. Miller here really wasn’t able to offer much in able of some solutions, other than a willingness to talk.

We need to spend a little more time to talk about some details of what can be done in that current moment. And I was just saying, I asked him if he understood that the OPP had done a further injunction, it was renewed, on this territory along the tracks, and that none of our people were present at the court injunction to represent ourselves in anyway. But because of our understanding of the two row it’s not our business to go there. And so it’s a system, it’s systemically set up to move on without taking into consideration of the treaty relationship that it has. Undeniably. You guys need to make some changes, [inaudible] too.

But we uh, so we’re now facing as a community and as a nation, because our people are all represented here. And I know that you were talking all around everybody before you come here. We heard everything. And I see. And we’ve got a kind of multiple issues.

So I’m hearing there’s a reluctancy or there’s like, “we’re going to work on this”, but there’s a reluctancy to come in and be like “oh yeah we did commit genocide, or we’ve committed an act of crime against humanity,” there’s an unwillingness to recognize that this is not your territory, and you don’t have a treaty, and you don’t have business there.

And I get it that you’re maybe afraid to say that, I don’t know. But that’s not what we’re doing.

And there’s the illegal occupation of the RCMP; and they’re illegal because it’s against your constitution. So somebody needs to go and address that. I’m hearing you say well you can’t, you don’t have the authority to get them out of there. So maybe you got the business to go an initiate the business to go and address that.

Cause there’s been a mistake made, somebody made a mistakes. There’s been a mistake made, a judge made an error, and then a police made an error. And of course we all know it’s about money. But [inaudible].

The people are worried about their wealth, and their wealth is their land. The wealth is their moose and their fish–and I ate their fish by the way ‘cause I went there. I don’t know if you’ve been there yet, I’ve been there. I was there and looked at the checkpoint. And I ate the salmon and I drank the water from that river. Maybe something that could be done to help alleviate some of this pressure, because what I’m concerned about is this pressure that you’re building.

And I hear this like, “Oh what can we do” [inaudible] we open it up. Let’s be honest, right. If we open up the pressure takes away and then you can rest and we can go back to being mistreated. And those people get slaughtered, get mistreated , worse, and the pipeline goes through, and it’s going to break, ‘cause you guys bought it from the Chinese, and they do poor craftsmanship, and that’s all true. And the water [inaudible].

And the few guys are going to get rich with fuel that they’re stealing from another people. This is just a perpetuation of fact cause Canada is built on resource extraction of resource that aren’t ours, or theirs.

That’s what’s going on. So I’m not trying to just hammer away at you, it’s just reality we’re in. And they come here wanting to find some solutions and so you’re going to do some things you’re not comfortable with I think. Just like the people that had to stand in the cold to get your attention. And they’re continuing they’re facing you. You get to go home. We get done this today and you get to go home you’re going to go for a drive maybe you won’t get enough sleep ‘cause I won’t.

But you’re not going to get smashed into the snow with blood, by militarized police who don’t care about you and think of you as a criminal and a dog or whatever, they’re going to treat you without any humanity, and they’re going to tell you to get off your own land and charge you with trespassing, and in breach of a judge’s order who was told that the tracks are blocked. But they lied. And when they serve the injunction I said turn around, you just said to me unblock the tracks, I said turn around look at the tracks. They wouldn’t even look. They were standing on the tracks reading the injunction to the people and they wouldn’t even look at them. And they didn’t understand what that injunction meant and we asked them, what does it mean? I’m not stupid, man.

But I listen to all these words, these legal legal words. I’m a Indian day-school survivor, cause you never closed the fucking thing here. I’m sorry for swearing but it’s still open, and it never closes. Why is that here? Cause this place is still free, you’re still actively working to try and break our spirit because we’re the last Indians that are still free. Everybody else is terrified of you. We come from the land of [???? 2:52:54 ????]. And we will not let that happen.

If you break us you’ll kill the planet. You see you’re learning slow, you’re so far behind you think you’re in front.

I’m sorry for scolding you there, but… Kinda. I don’t know what your read is, you can probably call CSIS–you can’t call CSIS, I probably can. I’m sure if I got on the phone they’re listening. You can probably call RCMP you can probably call OPP, you can probably get a read on what things are politically in the country, how volatile it is. We’re looking to have some peace stuff, we’re looking to help this thing get resolved over there. And we need some confirmation from the hereditary chiefs that that’s what happened.

Not lip service.

If you want something concrete you need to have something concrete.

And you can walk and say that’s the best you can do but we’re living here with the pressure. But I gotta remind you that if they come here and attack us canada will be very different tomorrow. And that’s not a threat, that’s just–call and ask! I’m concerned that this place is a ticking time bomb. That there’s blocks all over, people are outraged by what was done over there.

They’re not outraged because they’re having fun, you committed a crime.

And the people with the least amount of voice are screaming “stop!”, and the people with all the privileges are worrying about going to the music lessons or if the tablets came to do the water. But the truth is they already polluted the water in the first place so now we need the tablets. And you told me you’re going to go around 80 places and make sure they got clean drinking water. But you’re not going to go around those 80 places and clean up the mess so that the waters are clean. Cause they should be out drinking from the river. You have to plant the trees again. You have to fix the hole we dug in the ground. You don’t fix the water problem by making a water plant. That disconnects the people from the earth and then they’ll pollute more. That’s what happens: every time you disconnect the people more then they have less reason to love the earth.

So we maybe living right now with pressure of OPP. This place is pretty resilient. I tell you one time, I tell you a story I heard, I was there. There was a threat made by minister of indian affairs a while ago and he said to the AFM leaders, they’re going to make us all pay taxes. So, the whole country, so you need to get on the trains, you need to get on the bridges, you need to get on the highways, we need to have a national day of action and show this country that we mean business! And then the minister of indian affairs got up and said: any first nation that goes up on a track or goes up on a bridge or goes up on wherever, we’re going to cut your core funding. That was not long ago. And the AFN said, they made a deal so that they could work off-reserve, tax-free, they made a deal with the minister so they sold completely out. These are the ones you get permission from to go other places. They sold completely out, they made the deal. And then they said no one go on the road or go on the bridge or go on the anything, we don’t want you to do that. And there was one little place that went out on the highway and shut the 401 down, and the number 2, and the train. But I need you to understand why they did that. It wasn’t because we were upset you’re going to make us pay taxes. There was one fella that was yelling that. But the men and the women and the boys? It was children. Who went out and closed the 401, and closed the number 2 highway, and closed the train, did so because you promised you’d cut the money and we wanted the indian act gone. That’s why. And you know what happened? Ontario is the only place where the Indians don’t pay the tax, and the money kept flowing. So we failed. I need you to understand the severity of the situation, and even though you get to go home, we need to have concrete things happen. And it’s about just that we’re going to have to deal with the stress but you guys get to go. Because if they come here and they get us or whatever, and I’m sure my names on that list. How do you think all the rest of the Indians are going to act? I dont think tomorrow canadas gonna be the same, i think it might be a lot smaller. And that’s not a threat that’s the reality we live in, I need you guys to understand that reality. I don’t want you to be confused thinking that, it’s hard but we’re going to get through it. There’s a time issue here and it’s not just, i’m not saying “get them out there!” this is happening and this pressure by these monkeys over here, and they don’t know what’s going on. They’re not paying attention. You know we understand that there’s an intention and a plan to raid here and raid Kahnawake, [inaudible]. And Gitxsan [???]. And we understand that that’s the intention and that’s what’s been working on. Whether they do that or whether they just go after the one, that’s the mess that we’re in.

I know the trains are going through so no one is checking the tracks.

I am just saying like, let’s be real about our scenario and if you don’t have the power to get any of these done, call the people that do.

But let’s get some things done. Let’s help. You said you wanted to hear. You need help. And if you don’t help, it’s gonna be a mess. And we’re being peaceful.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: I wanna help. Let us help. Please sir.

KANENHARIYO: You know what I am saying. It would be nice to have that list of all the people (referring to the list of people from Tyendinaga who are rumoured to be named in the injunction) but truthfully you know what will happen to that list? It is going to add more fear to the people here. “Oh, what they’re going to come after me?” Maybe that little thing with the police was just an agitation to see what will happen.

Maybe it’s a way to bust up this, then they can say well… or somebody sparks somebody’s emotion and then they act up and these guys say “we got scared so we have to go”, right?

We took a big risk to invite you here. We took a huge risk to bring you in our home and feed you. You can say anything. You have a military background. I don’t have anything like that, I don’t know what’s going to happen.

But if we are going to have meaningful talks then we need concrete things for concrete things.

I heard over and over again that this is a suggestion. Never asked straight up, we never said, “open this up while we are going to get this done over there.” If it was the other way you would have never opened it. Because there needs to be something concrete.

So let’s figure it out. Or at least let’s get them to back down so that we can continue to figure it out.

You certainly have a commitment from me as an individual, to continue to talking. I don’t know what my people would say. 

COMMUNITY MEMBER: I am in. I am in still. 

KANENHARIYO: I don’t know what my people are gonna say but what they said yesterday (in the Mohawk People’s Meeting) was “tell them to get their RCMP out there. It is those people’s territory.”

That’s their territory. I hear you guys saying “I don’t know how we’re gonna have the power to do that”. Some of you must have power to do that. And maybe you are gonna get sued to do it.

Well, get sued to do it.

Maybe you need a larger complaint that (inaudible) “I think we made a mistake about the constitution.”

Maybe you will get fired on Tuesday. Maybe I will go to jail on Tuesday. I don’t know. But at least we tried to have some peace. At least we had enough courage to do something different. 

I don’t want us to get stuck in a deadlock where we can’t go nowhere and say, “well the talks failed” and then “ugh. That sucks.”

And I don’t wanna just talk about oh, let’s be nice to each other and we’re gonna talk Mohawk, Cree or French or whatever. I don’t wanna get into any of that.

It is important for a bit of an understanding who each other are as individuals but we got concrete stuff happening.

It is -20 and there’s people standing outside facing off with people who are sitting in their warm cars, we may go down there. Probably after you leave come and do it.

And what about tomorrow’s meeting? Or in a day or so? What’s going on–we got so busy here we haven’t heard.

We haven’t heard from the hereditary people over there. I wasn’t sure if there was meeting planned there, if you guys are meeting there simultaneously. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: We got a push back 

KANENHARIYO: Cus I understood that it was intent.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Yeah, it is kinda fluid right now. 

KANENHARIYO: They are talking about by the end of February but I don’t know when exactly between now and end of February.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I think a lot of this is about communication. You know I think it’s–there is a communication breakdown with live information. It feels like a volatile situation.

My sense is that yesterday Hazelton had pulled back on the condition that they themselves meet with the Minister and and the provincial minister as well. Pending also, talks with the Hereditary chiefs that I believe Premiere Horgan and Carolyn Bennett had agreed to do.

KANENHARIYO: Meeting today? 

MINISTER MARC MILLER:  No. that’s wrong. They originally planned that’d take place today but it got pushed back. The latest request was February 29th. That is the best info…

COMMUNITY MEMBER: 28th, I heard. Thursday, Thursday. 

KANENHARIYO: well, I talked to them. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Ok then you would know. I guess…that is the information that I know. But it is important to get the information out and everyone has sort of the same set of cards they can read they can make their own decisions. I’ll give you that. 

You said let’s get something concrete and you know what–so let’s explore that. Let’s explore that. And I didn’t ask you because I didn’t think it was my place but my wish is that there’d be a temporary drawback to allow trains to go through. 

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Get those redcoats out first. Get the bluecoats out down here, and then maybe have some common discussion on the table. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: So my undertaking would be–again we have to decide–but my undertaking would be to come back and continue to those discussions. I think this is discussion that obviously, given the context of the issues, needs to be widened. It absolutely needs to widened if you are to come away from here with real significant change. And that is not only here but across Canada. 

I think the issue then would be figuring out what’s going on in BC, and seeing what is acceptable to the community, what isn’t, and that’s a situation that I don’t think will be resolved overnight if the meeting on the 28th or the 29th is to occur. 

KANENHARIYO:  I encourage you to change your language that will be part of changing your mind. You are not talking about a “community”. You are talking about the Wet’suwet’en people and their Nation. That’s their hereditary system. Not your make-believe Band Councils and not the “communities”. 

You know in my language we don’t have a word for that. We got towns, Kanata, this sense of “community” is an odd thing. We have our Nation, our people, our clans and families and our territory. We don’t call ourselves the confederacy we call ourselves Wisk Niyohwentsyake. 

Our land is directly associated with who we are. And every people across this land is the same. So, I encourage you to change that thought, cuz that word is used sort of as a weapon. “Oh, we notified the community” or “we got approval from the community.” Well, what about all the other communities that make together, well, that’s the Nation. But that’s not as easy to coerce. And that needs to change. 

And another that fella said to us a couple of times, say, “ya got Canada’s attention”. And you said something a few days ago. You said, “I will listen”. Well yous were already listening. You were already listening, we had your attention, we were protesting. We were protesting. Your people, when you have activists, and they make cards and they put ‘em up in the air and stand around on the street and you tell them they’re allowed to do it in such a way that it doesn’t interfere or bother anybody…so that it doesn’t really make a difference. But you can start some negotiations with the union. 

We’re not participating in that system at all. We’re not “activists”, and we’re not “protestors”. 

Cuz that’s them, and they’ll wait for ya to come arrest them and then they’ll go home. And they made their point. 

That’s not what’s happenin’ here. You’ve committed a crime. 

And we’re disgusted with you. 

And we don’t want you stealing resources and running them through our land anymore, doing that kinda stuff. It hurts us. You know? 

I dunno. I talked to some people and they watched on a Facebook livefeed as the RCMP marched up the snow, grabbing at people, helicopters, everything. 

They’re in their own land, on their own place. 

Strangers came to do that to them. That’s a shame. 

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Why would they take their drum?

KANENHARIYO: You know, Freda Hudson [sic] was doing a ceremony for Murdered and Missing Women and they arrested her while they were doing that. However you need to go and say, “You fucking assholes. What’re you doing?”

You know what I asked those police to go and do yesterday? I said, “will yous take your cars and go stop the highway? Stand with human beings.” I asked them, you tell ‘em, I asked ‘em that. They got choice just like everybody else. 

You don’t get to say, ”I’m just doing my job”. Not when you’re committing crimes like that. No, that don’t work. That don’t hold water. That’s bullshit. 

So what can we do? What can we do to relieve some of this pressure, cuz you’re saying this gonna take some time, and I understand that, we understand that. We know it’s going to take some time. 

And you got transports, this concern about moving stuff around. This can be moved by truck. It can be moved by plane. It doesn’t need to be, there’s no need to be like, “oh, nothing can move in the country so we’re gonna get angry at the Indians and we’ll make the population turn on ‘em”. 

Come on. There’s strategies to be able to move around stuff. There’s waterways, you can do other things.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Creating a false emergency.

KANENHARIYO: And that’s our land, and we didn’t even raise the issue about our land. Right? We didn’t even try to put that on the table. 

We just said “deal with that”. We didn’t even say, “wait a minute, what about tolls” or “what about whatever”. 

We didn’t raise any of those things, we didn’t muddy the water in any way. 

We certainly have the right to, but we didn’t. 

And that’d be easy stuff to solve. “Alright, renegotiate a new lease with CN, they’re gonna pay a thousand bucks an axle for all the material they’re moving through,” cuz you know what? The whole country was like, “this is dire, we’re losing so much money”. And our community didn’t even notice. 

COMMUNITY MEMBER: They got a train ticket–a train ride. (Reference to the “free” train ride Mohawk students are offered once a year in exchange for the train passing through Tyendinaga territory).

KANENHARIYO: Why? Because it doesn’t–because we get no benefit from that.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: They get a train ride.

KANENHARIYO: One a year. Once a year. If they’re post secondary students.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: That’s right. [sarcastic] Thank you. Thank you.

KANENHARIYO: Yeah, they get to ride the train once. Well. That’s what we get out of it.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: [sarcastic] That sounds pretty fair.

KANENHARIYO: That’s disgusting, isn’t it? So, um. I think we’re all getting tired. Well, we said we were gonna–let’s figure out what can you guys gonna do? I dunno. We’re in a volatile situation, not just here, across the whole country.

KANENHARIYO:  Then it means-well it’s gonna take time…let’s get ‘er done. Let’s not wait ‘til whatever, Thursday.

I need ya to pull on them strings. You say you’re representing the Crown, and then you’re telling me that the Crown representative that we’re supposed to talk to is a gesture, who can’t do nothing. (referring to the earlier comment by Marc Miller regarding the clarification that the Governor General doesn’t act on behalf of the Queen but rather acts under the advice of the Prime Minister). And that you’re so fluid, you can’t do nothing, it’s like, well how do we deal with yous? And how do we [cough]…

(A call comes into someone’s cell phone and a man stands up to hand the phone to KANENHARIYO. The phone is put up to the microphone so everyone present can hear.)  

COMMUNITY MEMBER: So this is um-so maybe you can introduce yourself.

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: (Over the phone): Can you hear me?

CROWD: We can hear you.

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: This is Chief Woos from Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. I’m House Chief for the Grizzly House of the Gitdumden clan. I wanna thank the Tyendinaga people for allowing me to phone here and give you an update on what’s happening over here. It’s, ..you can see on the news that people have their own laws and invaded our land here. So, police came in with automatic rifles, and forcibly removed our people and intimidated them while they were doing that. And it was things that most people don’t even imagine–when you have a pointed gun at you, that’s not an easy feeling. 

And again, I want to update. 

The police are still out there, they’re still doing some checks, random checks on people and they’re telling people to get out ‘cause there is an exclusion zone. 

It’s not a happy place to be. This is our own unceded lands. I have a cabin there and with more of them on the way, and proponents have decided to put in the illegal enforcement of that illegal injunction onto us. 

And we kept on saying “that’s illegal” because both governments–Canada and BC–circumvented the hereditary chiefs. And we kept on saying no…nobody was listening to us. 

So, at this point, that’s what I can provide to you as an update on what’s happening. 

Since December we kept on going out there and we met, the chiefs met, and we talked about what we say and what’s gonna be taken to government. We talk about what’s going to take to the RCMP. We also talk about what our general message is to get out there across this country. 

And again I wanna stress–really loud and clear that we want the RCMP out of the Gitdumden Territory. 

The detachment that was there on the 29 kilometre on the [Forson?] road–we want them out of there. We don’t want them having a detachment right ‘in the middle of nowhere’ in their eyes. But in our eyes it’s in our territory, and they have absolutely no business setting up a detachment out there. 

We do our traditions out there. We do our trapping and our hunting, and they’re up there with their guns and threatening us. That’s not right. We want them out immediately. That’s basically what we wanted right from the get-go. And also, we want BC, the RCMP to commit themselves to talk to..the highest…of our values, that keeps the peace and order in our society. We want them to sit down with us and talk… 

 Third, we want the Prime Minister of Canada to meet with us, the hereditary chiefs, so we can talk about some matters that are very important to all of us Indigenous people right across the country.

That’s what we would like to see. Again, thank you, Kevin, for allowing me to speak.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: You gonna ask when his meeting is? Ask him?

KANENHARIYO: Ask-tell him who you are.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Sir, my name is Marc Miller. Thank you for sharing your words. I’m wondering if you can update us with any meeting you’re supposed to have with the BC Premier and Minister Bennett.

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: We haven’t had any committment or anything in writing. All of it was was lip service over the radio or TV. We don’t have any dates, we don’t have anything like that from Premier. It’s all lip service to us. We want something that’s solid.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: So, my understanding was that it was–today’s Saturday, right? Was either gonna be today or tomorrow, or then I heard something was the 28th or 29th–is that inaccurate?

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: I’m not quite clear on what they’re saying. The communication…media is totally different from our direct contact. We have contacts with the Hereditary Chiefs but we’re not getting the right story. We need them to phone us directly, phone us and say “we’d like to sit down”.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Okay.

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS:  We don’t like this media–it’s all hogwash to us.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Thank you.

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: We don’t trust the media at all, one bit.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Thank you. Thanks again for your words.

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: Thank you, Tyendinaga.

CROWD:[cheers and applause]

KANENHARIYO: This is Kanenhariyo, Chief Woss, we met before.

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: Hey, Kanenhariyo!

KANENHARIYO:[laughs] And uh, I asked if you were going to defend yourselves. And you said, “how do I know you’re not a security threat?” Well, I hope I proved myself to ya, my friend.

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: You have. You have, my brother.

KANENHARIYO: So, uh, I would like to give you an update. Currently, we are sittin’ in our Council House. It was our traditional building to meet and make our decisions, and it was hijacked by the RCMP and Indian Affairs about seventy-five years ago. But we’re in here now. 

My community’s here, a cross section of people from here and also our sister community that together makes a strong part of our Nation, as well as a number of other relatives from other sister communities. 

And so there’s a large contingency of us and a cross-section of people here, and we’re sitting in talks right now in accordance with to principles of our ancient treaty relationship with the Crown of England, as I shared with you. 

So we have–and we’re discussing with the Minister of–I always say “Indian Affairs”, but there’s a new word for it now. Smart fellow and an entourage of his closest um–how do I describe you guys?

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Friends, advisors.

KANENHARIYO: Advisors, I guess. As well, we have a build-up of Ontario Provincial Police in our area and they have extended an injunction against our Nation and they’re saying that if there’s any of our people that are around the railroad track area that they’ll be charged with contempt of the court, and they’ve raised the threat of arrest and possible criminal charges. 

And they extending that injunction indefinitely–there’s no end on it, and they have built their numbers up along across our territories. 

We’ve had instances every day that they’re putting pressure on us and we have a liason come twice a day to ask if we’ve changed our mind and whether or not we still want the RCMP to leave your territory, or if we’re okay to leave it the way it is. 

And we have been a little annoyed, but we’ve consistently said, “no, no, we’re stubborn, we don’t change our mind about that”. So we told them that we’re not prepared to allow them to pass their trains through our territory while they continue to commit crimes against humanity on yous and that they continue to occupy your territory with RCMP. 

They’re putting pressure on us and we are reminding them that the entire country is upset about this, and that we’re concerned that this is a ticking time bomb. And that if they come against us like this over here, then it may spark something bigger. 

Anyways, that’s where we are, and we’re trying very desperately to assist these fellas in finding some peace (referring to the Government of Canada as represented by Marc Miller) because they’re out of practice. So we’re trying to give them some guidance and maybe we can work together somehow find a way to have them leave your territory and also everybody be able to have a little rest. But we’re not quite there yet.

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: Yes, I agree, my brother. We need–we need to see something that is practical and something that is built on action, not lip service. We said that right from the beginning. We’re tired of lip service.

KANENHARIYO: Their request, or suggestion anyway, is might there be a series of meetings established with you fellows, and that they would encourage or request that would allow the trains to pass? How would you feel about that?

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: It needs to be something that is part of a commitment on their part. That is, that they’re not going to leave the talks, or they’re not going to leave us hanging, so to speak, because BC, that’s what they did. 

We said we’re gonna sit down and we’re gonna discuss this seven days before that enforcement was going to be done. 

So BC representative Scott Fraser, and Scott Fraser had a mandate, and also a staged an attempt to have an access agreement for CGL to go back on our land because we gave them an eviction notice. 

And when they didn’t get that, that’s when they left. They just left. That’s plain rudeness, right there. 

So, I don’t know the details there, but the way I feel is they have got to be committed, it’s got to be something they wanna sit down and talk, and not to leave just at their own time. We’ve got to go right…and just talk this out.

 KANENHARIYO: We got the direction from the people here at an emergency People’s Meeting. \

Our laws allow that if there’s an emergency, that our people can assemble themselves and make a decision to address a calamity that has approached us. 

And so Marc Miller calling for us to come to this meeting triggered a part of our Kayanerehkowa–our Great Law–for us to meet and find–for preparation…So there was a mandate that was put forward by the people yesterday and there’s three of us sittin’ here representing our clans, carrying that mandate forward that we’re gonna sit still and not allow these trains to pass through our land until RCMP have left your territory. 

And that we’ve heard from yous that, in fact, that’s the case. Because we believe that it needs to be concrete action for concrete action. 

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: Yes I agree. And we need to report and inform you that the police are actually moving…everything out of there and they can’t go back in there. That’s one thing that we’re adamant about. We’re not gonna–we’re not gonna debate on that anymore, so…

KANENHARIYO: There’s mention that there is-I think it’s–I’m forgetting the name–Hostleton? Hazelton? Where the Gidimt’en have the train blocked. They’re saying there was an agreement made to open that train rail and a promise for talks with the Premier. Has that changed?

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: Yeah. Like I said, that’s one of the things that…they say that, but to me, it’s all lip service, I need something that’s concrete. They need to own up. And I thank our brothers for their support. They’re doing a great job up there.

KANENHARIYO: Is the train still blocked up there?

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: Yes, it is.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There’s been arrests.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Where?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hazelton.

KANENHARIYO: Okay. Is there anything more you wish to share, my friend?

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: Well, I want to reiterate again that BC and the RCMP to commit themselves to talks…with hereditary chiefs. First I want to reiterate again that BC and the RCMP commit themselves to [inaudible] with Wet’suwet’en the hereditary chiefs. The closest English word that comes to [Indigenous word from out west] is respect.

But the English word respect is sometimes really empty…somehow. [Indigenous word] is much more than that. It is something that is [inaudible] …in a way that you are honest and truthful with yourself and others. That is what [Indigenous word , whikosa?] is, and that is what we need the RCMP to commit themselves to, as well as Canada, because all of this has happened because of not just the pipelines but in the past when all that was stopping us was put in place, they just basically [dis]honoured these clauses and direct agreements and in this way Indigenous organizations all broke and put them in poverty first and then they put an agreement in front of them. That no longer can happen. We know what is going on. [inaudible] to say that’s enough. We’re part of this whole deal of the economy, we have to be part of it, so that’s where we’re going. I want to thank you again, brother. It’s [ inaudible] to speak again.

KANENHARIYO: You’re more than welcome

HEREDITARY CHIEF WOSS: Thank you [inaudible] Tyendinaga

CROWD: (Applauds)

KANENHARIYO: I don’t know what to do from here. [soft chuckle] um..what are you able to do?

MINISTER MARC MILLER: It’s my understanding that I need to go back to the Prime Minister and clarify exactly what the ask is. 

What arises from that communication is there is a lot of information that is getting rather distorted or not clear, whether it is deliberate or not. But it is important for everyone to be on the same page, so the decisions are made in full conscience. That isn’t apparent to me for a lot of reasons, people [inaudible] media people say this is happening, that is happening, it spreads quickly. 

I would suggest that that is normal in this type of situation. It happens, it happens. I don’t think facebook is much better quite frankly.

KANENHARIYO: It happened for us today.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Yes, exactly

KANENHARIYO: The CBC dropped our video when we met each other.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I will go back to the cabinet, I will go back to the prime minister, articulate the requests, so, my understanding is the Wet’suwet’en leadership is properly engaged, that meetings take place, that they trace a path forward, and my understanding from you is that nothing will happen until then.

KANENHARIYO: And that the RCMP need to leave their territory.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: The conditions on which Wet’suwet’en leadership decide that to happen. And I appreciate that.

KANENHARIYO: He was heard. We heard the Hereditary chief say that’s what he wanted in his territory.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Yes. And so, again, I’m not going to predict the results of that meeting in whatever shape or form that would take place. That would be disrespectful on my part, but I think that’s the message I have to communicate. If there’s anyone who feels that is inaccurate, I would ask them to speak up or if there’s anything else. I want as much information to be able to take with me tonight and to articulate clearly to the prime minister, to my colleagues in cabinet, so that we keep those lines of communication open, and as you said, words are very important. Words are very important. I’ve mis-spoken today, and I apologize for that. I’ve used sloppy words, and I apologize for that as well. But actions are very important. I want to be able to go out to the media, and say what you see of these human beings, these people are a beautiful people, not what has been portrayed on tv over the years.I want people to see what I see. I want people to see what I see. And it isn’t what is on tv. Time and time again. 

We need to educate Canadians. These are things that don’t happen overnight. But they can start today. I’ll be glad to articulate that in the best way I know. In the best way I know.

I’ll leave it at that. If there’s anyone who wants to say anything, I propose perhaps, that we go out with some spokespersons and speak quite clearly to what has gone on today, the spirit and intent of the meeting, that we shared some tears, that we shared some laughter, and that we had a very serious conversation, and that this isn’t the end of this story. I’ll leave it at that.

KANENHARIYO: No, no, no, no, no. You don’t get to leave it at that. You don’t get to leave it at that, because I still got these monkeys pounding on my back door. You and I can’t afford to have them come in here. 

I know you’re saying they can’t interfere with the police. Somebody must be able to. In a gesture of good faith, to allow these talks to play out, and they might take a little while. I don’t know, maybe you reach out to the Minister of Defence. Maybe you reach out to the Minister of Justice. I don’t know who you gotta talk to, but somebody needs to be able to say “stand down!” and stop spreading the rumour that there are weapons or there is danger, because that’s not helping the situation. That’s disinformation. 

We need to have things calm here, so that we can keep everyone else calm here. And I mean the country, calm here. Because this has got to change, but…maybe it’d be wonderful, I don’t know, maybe it wouldn’t be. We need your help to do that, because I don’t know how else to get your attention. We’re not in a position to be able to get them to relax. 

I mean I asked them to stand down because you came here and said, you were going to begin some talks, so he said he’d stand down today. Maybe we need to commit to some more meetings. And ask them to stand down while that is happening. We have to know there’s going to be some speediness to this.

KAIATIHTAKEH: I have a suggestion so this suggestion we talked about a little bit but no one really agreed to it and it could help our situation along with the Gitxsan, is it would be good to educate yourself and find if you’re able to find proof of ownership of that railroad because we know it was appropriated and our trust money was used for that, so you can educate yourself and look for that proof of ownership where you get your authority to enforce that injunction that’s what you can do. 

TEHAHENTE: Just another thing, not to be rude or anything, we need also, all of us, all the people that have participated here, our minds need to be put at ease in the sense of immunity for actions that were gonna be involved in, and talks were gonna be involved in because we are going to be targeted, because it’s happened before. So anything you can do in that way to guarantee that would be a really big plus as far as I’m concerned, as far as the families are concerned. 

KANENHARIYO: Somebody that knows a little bit about that topic. 

MIKE BURTON: So some of the stuff you’ve been trying to address here, especially with the injunction you’re trying to get the OPP to extend this, that would relate to what we’re doing here. The RCMP out west comes under federal jurisdiction, they’re a federal police force. They have a commissioner also, maybe you could get ahold of them, the federal government, or someone so you can talk to the RCMP about the stuff that’s going on up there… 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Look, I’m new at this, this is not something I do everyday (laughter) 

I’d have to talk to the team to see what’s doable. I don’t want to promise something I can’t deliver. I appreciate, I don’t see any reason why you would be prejudiced because you came and talked. It sounds reasonable, but I’d have to check and get back to you and as to the issues in BC there’s that complexity that is a provincially deligated wing of the RCMP. I will, on a bit of de-escalation of pressure that you’re feeling I’ll convey that you’re feeling that pressure.

KANENHARIYO: That doesn’t help, that will just make them feel like putting more on. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Well, then you need to tell me what to do.

KANENHARIYO: I asked you.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Tell me clearly. 

KANENHARIYO: You need to find whoever can tell them to stand down, to stand down. While, you guys are working to get those things cleared up over there (referring to RCMP leaving Wet’suwet’en territory). You need to do that. 

You said you need some time to talk to your team, that’s fair. We’ve got this building for as long as we need. 

You need to go and talk to your people. Check with your lawyers, whatever. Let’s reconvene back here at 7. That gives you two hours. And that gives us some time. And let’s see what we can do concretely  and let’s put some pen to paper. Because my experience is we talk, we shake hands, we say this is great, but without something in writing, there’s nothing there. And even if it’s the things that you know we can do, then at least we know we made a little bit of progress. 

We didn’t polish the chain but at least we made a little bit of progress. What do you think?

MINISTER MARC MILLER: We would have to check, give us some time, we may not need two hours. We may need more.

KAIATIHTAKEH: We were just informed, a community member’s father worked as an RCMP for 30 years and he knows for a fact that there is a person responsible; someone you can call, that is responsible for the whole of the RCMP. 

MIKE BURTON: There is a commissioner to the RCMP, who reports to a minister, the minister of public safety. So, that is a fact, but that commissioner does not have influence over the provincial police force that operates within BC. So, instead of an OPP in BC; they have the RCMP E-division, which is the BC division of the RCMP. So, they don’t have their own provincial police force; they pay the RCMP to be their provincial police for them.

I’m just explaining how the system works. It does not mean that we can’t have conversations with the political government in BC, the officials in BC, to express what we’ve heard today; to inform them of what the interest is, to inform them of what actions folks want. But I’m just saying that there’s no magical person that can demand they do this federally.

KANENHARIYO: What about over here in the province? 

MIKE BURTON: That would be the commissioner of the OPP. 

COMMUNITY MEMBER: How come you can come and take us out, but how come you can’t take them out? (referring to the RCMP in Wet’suwet’en territory).

MIKE BURTON: The federal government I mean has… We don’t have the authority to take you out. 

COMMUNITY MEMBER: What the hell was the provincial police got here then? Come on here! Double talking half-truths, ain’t shining the chain guys!

KANENHARIYO: Let’s be honest, let’s not let our talks crumble here.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: If you could allow us to take a small break and see what we can do to ensure that the de-escalation tactics of the Ontario Provincial Police are being properly applied. Again, this is, I am just stating the fact that this is not within my power, but we can communicate that clearly in no uncertain terms to the OPP and then when we come back with what we believe to be [inaudible].

KANENHARIYO: I share this with you. Some of the elders today were talking about how serious this matter is. They said there’s no way they were going to get this addressed in one meeting. Some of the elders said, ‘we need probably three or four meetings to get more people here and we’ll get this thing resolved’. Probably that’s what it’s going to take on that end too, it doesn’t need to be months and months, but we need to take action and we need to be concrete about it. It’s not calm and we need to keep it calm. There’s a commitment on our end to those meetings, to continue discussions and to make concrete action, not just lip service.

 It’s true what you’re saying, there’s people concerned, that we had to tug a train to get your attention, instead of the chain. 

We even went as far as writing a nice eloquent letter and sent it to every appropriate person in the chain of command, including yourself, to say ‘let’s sit down and talk’ before all this happened, and we were ignored. 

So, I encourage you to use your power of influence and to pull to those that you’re able to de-escalate things here while we continue these talks because they aren’t done. 

I know that the OPP has the discretion to exert that injunction or not, and we’re eventually going to have to get to the place where we discuss to the OPP about dissolving that injunction, so that we can leave those tracks and that territory without all those people who have been standing in the snow winding up being hunted down for warrants. We’re going to have to talk about that eventually, but let’s get this first stuff out of the way. So, let’s take some time.

COMMUNITY MEMBER: (Address in Mohawk) I would like to acknowledge each and every one of you that are here. This morning I went to the fire, I burned tobacco. Because that is our way of communicating with all of the life forces, to every spirit that exists that sustains us, to our ancestors, to the Great Spirit to intervene in this time, to help all of us to come to a mind and to understand what is transpiring here. 

In three months from now, it will be May, and that time it will thirty years ago where there was a situation that arose where Mohawks started to kill Mohawks. And again, the underlying issue here, like everything else, is money. 

Anyway there was a group of us, we came over here and there a state out there, there’s a monument about [Mohawk word], the Great Peace started here, when our people had lost sight of seeing the creator in each other and people decided we could kill because it became the customary thing to do. When [Mohawk word] came to this place the mindset that had to change, to change the hearts, the minds and ways, it took awhile, but eventually our great peace process happened and he gave our people a warning; that it was that the chiefs and the leadership should never ever seriously disagree amongst themselves. Because If they ever did, then we would be reduced to poverty and disgrace. 

When that happened, we came here, we went to the other side of eagle hill, there was some condol (?) chiefs, some clan mothers and faith keepers and we came here and we called for that intervention. The spiritual intervention that needed to happen across turtle island happened and I am not going to go into all the things that transpired and into all the things that continue to unfold here, but it’s not just coincidence that we’re back here in Tyendinaga. 

This land is sacred. It is sacred because of who the [Mohawk word ] is and that message of one dish with one spoon that we were all across this land, from where the sun rises, to where the sun sets. The reason that we had so much division is because Mohawks said ‘hey this is where I draw the line, this our territory, this Oneida, this is Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca’ he said, ‘no way, one dish with one spoon, you’re one family now’. And those white roots were supposed to go across this land so that we would understand that, and all hostilities would end, so that we would be one body, one mind, one heart. 

So now we’re talking about spirituality, when the Europeans first got here, they had the doctrines of discovery, they had the papal bulls. Those ideas and those concepts is what all of your law today is fashioned around. Because it says that you have superiority over us. But as a result of all of that history, and we all know it, here’s the thing, and this is what is in the friendship treaty belt and I have it there, but what it says is this: that the early Europeans said that they came with God and Jesus. We said ‘we have the Great Spirit, we understand the interconnectedness of all things, that we’re all part of that sacred web of life. So that being said, and because Canada is a so-called Judeo-Christian state, then they have no right to shoot our people or kill any of us, just like the same token, we don’t have that right to you. 

Like what was said, if there is any issues or problems, we sit down and we talk because anybody can have a relationship. This two-row can apply to a husband and wife, it could apply to me and him, it could apply to me and you. The first thing that it talks about is, how are we going to show respect, peace and friendship? And if we agreed to it, well then that’s what we would have. 

So I am going to end with that, but just the idea, that now we are in this time, because of capitalism, because of the ruling elites and because of all of humanity’s woes. The underlying common denominator that is a result of all of this, is money. So now, if we know that, and we understand that, so how then do we have to think? Because in our Great Law, there’s no hierarchy, there’s no kings, there’s no queens. The chiefs and the clan mothers are the last ones to eat because you put your family first. Imagine if the federal government did that, there’d be no homeless people, there’d be no street people, because the politicians would make sure that all of those people’s needs were met. We don’t have no right to condemn them or criticize them, because whatever it is, if they’re street people today, we don’t know what it is that happened in their lives. The thing is, the God essence still exists within them, we call it [Mohawk word], the thing is we all have that spirit within us, and if totally we get that, it changes how we treat ourselves. It changes how we treat each other. It changes how we understand the earth. And it helps us to understand about the ancestral realm, because this life is not the end-all be-all. We originate in [Mohawk word], we come here for a time, and we’re all going back home, we’re already guaranteed everlasting life, so the only reason why you come here is to be happy. Everything that the Great Spirit afforded us, is there and all he told us in the end is every day [Mohawk words] So that’s what we continue to do.

 So anyway, in all of this that’s unfolding, we mustn’t forget about the spiritual aspect of what is also being birthing here, because we do have the keys for world peace. We do have the solution for a democracy where people will be treated fair, and we can all get along peacefully, we can rethink our relationship to natural world, get off of fossil fuels, do all these things that need to be done. Because if we keep doing at the rate we’ve been going, and I told Tom Siddon this, because this is not the first time, 1990 I was deeply involved and I told Minister of Indian Affairs Tom Siddon, ‘look it doesn’t take a scientist to know where this is headed’. And I didn’t have hurricane Katrina or a tsunami to compare and contrast with. I said ‘if we don’t get with the program, we’re going to be gone, millions of us in the blink of an eye’. 

I said ‘ I feel like I’m the biggest hypocrite walking around, I can speak my language, I could put all those sacred songs and ceremonies through, but what do I do, I get in my car, I turn that ignition, and I’m equally responsible for destruction of the earth. 

Did we have say? No. Because every time we went to Ottawa or Washington and we talked about the indigenous wisdom of this land, what happened? ‘You’re right chiefs, we agree chiefs’. But nothing changed, because the attitude was ‘we’re the ruling power,’ ‘might is right’ and ‘we’re going to do the way we want’. But now we are seeing that time is of the essence. We don’t have time to pussyfoot around anymore. 

This young girl Greta Thunberg, she’s saying, ‘I’m not going to school every Friday, because I’m going to school to get an education, and when I read the report from the intergovernmental panel on climate change, it says that we have eleven years left to make some significant changes to how we are treating our earth mother. Because once we pass those tipping points, we’re all going to suffer in the end. 

So what is happening here is a wake-up call to all of us, to say let’s put our best collective thinking together because if we fail, we’re all going to suffer down the road. 

Anyway, I ask that all that sacred spiritual power help each and every one of us to guide us in our thinking and in our deliberations so that we make the best decisions, not only for today, but for those future generations that are coming. Thank you.

KANENHARIYO: Take a little break. We’re going to take a little break. We’re going to take a half hour break. Don’t get upset and yell at anybody, let’s just be calm now.

(BREAK)

(MEETING RESUMES)

KANENHARIYO: We’re gonna get back to what business we got at hand. I think we’re going to try to wrap it up as quickly as we can, here this evening, because it’s getting dark now and there’s other business to tend to…I’m gonna pass it on. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I thank everyone for the hospitality. My job tomorrow, with your permission, is to speak to the media and express some of the thoughts that have been going on here. I think that will be a challenge, and I will have to think about what I say. 

If anyone were to ask me privately, I would say that, and I don’t need to flatter anyone, but I did meet some great people here today. People I hadn’t seen in a while, too, and it’s interesting. It’s a small world. 

I said earlier, for a big bureaucracy, my job is very personal; so, I take that back. I want to show, even in hard times, the face of, perhaps, who you are. That isn’t seen, and that continues to be hidden from public media. 

No one would expect that I was well fed. No one would expect that people shared so openly. No one would expect that there were some really good laughs. No one sees that, the face of things, they see another face. That’s frustrating for me and it’s immensely more frustrating for you. 

I don’t know where this is going end up. I’m sure you don’t either. I’m sure there’s the same playbook playing in your minds, right now. But I know I’m gonna do my utmost, to make sure this works out peacefully. I don’t know if the answers I’m going to give you now are satisfactory, but they are the answers that are within my control and what I undertake to do for you going home tonight. My hope is that we’ll meet again. And again if we have to. I think we must. 

There is a lot of stuff, from what I’ve heard from you, that needs to go on, on the west coast, for things to make a small change. If that happens, if that happens, then we can start having the real discussions that you’ve asked for. 

But I’m not in any position to predict what that outcome will be. I don’t know if you wanna share some words, or if anyone wants to share a few words. We’re just finalizing a couple things. I wanna give as much certainty, coming out of this meeting, as I can give you with a full conscience. 

You took an enormous risk doing what you did, and you know exactly what you were doing. I think you know exactly why you were doing it. I took a lot of risk doing this, as well. I asked a lot of people to back off. Not that I asked for them to be here. But I come, sometimes, with baggage (laughter). They worry about safety, I worry about safety. Sometimes, when everyone worries about safety, we make things worse. 

I said at the very beginning, that we’ve stopped talking to each other. I don’t want to sit at this table and talk. I wanna chill, I want to have a good discussion and I wanna move this relationship forward. 

So I think I have responsibility to the media to get your message out, get my message out, to the extent I can do so to back-up your message. I’ve got a lot of people in this country that are calling for law and order. All those words that are very wounding to people. I’ve got to show them that behind all that rhetoric, these are people with faces, with families, with kids and good intentions. It’s hard to do in a crisis situation. But we will keep doing it, we’ll keep doing it. 

I’m glad everyone had, I’m not sure everyone had a chance to get out what they had on their mind; but more than yesterday. Vis-a-vis me at least. My team here is working hard to try and get this to a peaceful solution. There’s a lot of pieces of the puzzle that have to fall into play, for that to happen. And I came in here saying, I’m in no position to dictate how you exercise your rights, your beliefs, and I go out of here with that same belief. but I think I’ve gained a clearer understanding of where you’re coming from. 

KANENHARIYO: I think I have something for you. 


MINISTER MARC MILLER: Sorry guys, Mike can’t type, I hired a Chief of Staff who doesn’t know how to type. (joke) 

CHIEF OF STAFF MIKE BURTON: I type just fine.


MINISTER MARC MILLER: I said, just ‘give me a redhead’ and I’ll be happy.

KANENHARIYO: Redhead and a beard.

 
MINISTER MARC MILLER:: He’s from Saskatchewan.


KAIATIHTAKEH: Did you accidently delete our email? (question directed to Mike Burton).


MINISTER MARC MILLER: Did I… I don’t think it came to me. My email’s all over the internet. Anyone can reach it.

 
KANENHARIYO: I believe in transparency (joking, referring to the public online posting of the Minister’s email that included his email address.)


MINISTER MARK MILLER: You certainly do (laughter). That’s okay. I answer any email..

  KANENHARIYO: I’m also not all that computer literate. So I didn’t realize I had put your email…(laughter), I didn’t know that until you told me.

MINISTER MARK MILLER: So what I’ve said and thanks again for the hospitality, this was very warm. I’m glad we had that conversation. So, tonight I’ll be informing the Prime Minister and cabinet, as early as tomorrow, or first thing Monday, of the specific actions that Mohawk Nation wants, including the requests outlined on that phone with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief during this meeting, we all heard on Kevin’s phone. 


KANENHARIYO: Which is? 


MINISTER MARC MILLER: Well, we’re getting to that. I can’t find that…I need a new chief of staff. (joking.)

DEPUTY MINISTER JEAN-FRANCOIS TREMBLAY: Three conditions, meeting with the Prime Minister, the RCMP to get out…these are the three..


MINISTER MARC MILLER: So, the three requests are as follows, and please feel free to correct me, as we’re going on the fly here. The requests, as articulated by the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief would be:

  • For the RCMP to leave their traditional land 
  • British Columbia, Canada and the RCMP to take part in a formal ceremony of Wecoze (?). I didn’t say that properly. The claim being that there hasn’t been any conversation with Canada or BC recently. 
  • And then I’m getting to the OPP.. (the Minister is reading from cell phone notes his Deputy Minister and Chief of Staff was taking). My understanding on the injunction, is that it’s a public document, and it is available. We can work to provide that for you.
  • We will provide and put that in writing, that Minister Bennett, who has been tasked by the Prime Minister to go out west will be putting a call in to Chief (inaudible) and putting in writing of the Wet’suwet’en willingness to engage in the letter. 

MIKE BURTON: So there were letters exchanged between the BC Government and the Federal government saying they would be willing to but what we heard the Hereditary Chief was that that had not been communicated to him and so we will put in writing our willingness to take part in a process.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: And we’ll get this to them with real letterhead instead of my email this time (joking, referring to the email posted on-line). 

Again you already have a commitment from Minister Bennett. You already have a contact for the OPP. But we will provide another one who is willing to discuss a resolution, again provide a signed confirmation of what I just said to you, and I will agree and I undertake to meet again. 

KANENHARIYO: One more thing, I asked you to ask the police commissioner to back down while those talks happened, and while we have continue our talks until this thing is resolved. Unless the talks collapse and everything collapses, I believe that we can resolve this in a peaceful manner. But if you leave us just on have to deal with them without your influence, I believe they will try to speed the process and not be concerned about peace. And you said you were gonna do everything in your power and I would ask that you would consider that as an addition because I think it will have a greater influence on what they decide then from what we just say it. 

MIKE BURTON: I think the way we would frame it, and I just wanna make sure this is okay with folks cause we’re gonna provide the letters to you guys, is the Minister is going to outline either through elected provincial officials or through a letter directly to the commissioner if that’s allowed, what he heard today about a fear of enforcement and escalation. 

He can’t say “don’t do this”, but like we will let them know what you heard today about real fears from the community about enforcement and all the things that have been outlined.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I agree, we experienced a version of it earlier on. So, I understand it… 

KANENHARIYO: It’s that moving around, that’s causing things to become escalated, right? People not being able to rest that causes people to be affected, their emotions, and then that can trigger when they do that and move around militarized police, it creates a climate of fear.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I understand that.

KAWENNIIOSTA: Also a chain reaction. 

KANENHARIYO: Cause we’re one, we’re not First Nations. And we’ll be fuckin mad. I’m sure of it.

DEPUTY MINISTER JEAN-FRANCOIS TREMBLAY: Your French is pretty good (laughter). 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I don’t have to teach you french (laughter).

KANENHARIYO: They weren’t very nice to us. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I’m free to do it if you like (laughter).I wanna thank everyone again, we will provide this in writing. I don’t know, perhaps we can discuss what we want communicated to the media. To the extent I can, we can convey that message. We can say nothing, But I think we will have to say something. But I think there’s an opportunity to raise people’s consciences here.

KANENHARIYO: On our side of things, I’ve spoken with the women, the ones representing our clans here today. There’s a willingness and a commitment to meet 3 or 4 more times, if need be, to get through this. And a desire and a commitment to find a way to be able to make it so that we’re able to pull on the chain and address this manner, without having to pull on a train. 

And I would hope that you would have the same desire to find a way, so that there can be communication between the traditional hereditary systems and yourselves. Without that we’re gonna continue down this… track (laughter).

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Or not. 

KANENHARIYO: Or not, I love the pun..(laughter). So we’re gonna do that. I am affirming that. 

We’re committed to a peaceful resolution. And we’re committed to staying strong about having integrity and concern for our brothers and sisters (of Wet’suwet’en). 

I’m a man of the people here, I can’t say all of them, but I heard lots of them say that they believe that you were sincere. And there was a great deal of fear of you, or concern of you. 

I think that it’s important that if a statement gets made to the public, that is the fact that we are talking. And that there is a concerted effort to find a peaceful resolve, and in as quick a motion as possible. We can move much quicker than you can, I believe, might be because we’re a little smaller.

But I think that’s important to be said, because there’s a concern about the general public being upset, right? We don’t need you voted out of office, we need to keep you around. Furthermore, we’ll write them down and send it to you, so you hear that from us.

We need to be sure that we not put in the public that we’ve polished the chain. But maybe this is how we talk about this kind of a meeting. I don’t know, I think there’s more work to be done, and the last thing, I hope that you’re – I don’t know if it’s appropriate to put in the media, but although we have a great 150 years of grievances, and our relationship; it’s so tarnished that you can barely see that it’s a chain anymore – that we didn’t put anything extra on this discussion. 

We talked of those grievances, and they’re going to need to be addressed in the future, but we didn’t put them on here. We stuck fast with what we said. And that’s been very important. Because, we could have tried to do that. We could have did that. We could have changed the whole topic and said, “Well, you make this deal with us and then we walk away.” But we are a people of integrity. And we will keep our word of what we said. We’re not gonna lie. And that needs to be somehow articulated. 

Because you come from the people [for] who lying is okay. You even say there is such a thing as a “white lie.” And it’s like, an acceptable lie. And in our culture, absolutely any lying is unacceptable. 

So we hope that you are earnest, and that you do what you say you’re going to do. 

And what I learned from you the other day – you did exactly what you said what you would do. You said “I’ll send you an email” and you did. And I waited in the middle of the night, and then I accidentally gave it to the whole world. (Laughter)

DEPUTY MINISTER JEAN-FRANCOIS TREMBLAY: His email inbox has never been the same since (Laughter)

KANENHARIYO: Oh, I didn’t realise I did that to you (laughter)

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I have a few more friends (laughter) 

KANENHARIYO: You better write this down. The concern is that the media tends to spin things in the negative. And earlier, you said “that’s just the way it goes” but when it goes that way for us, it’s damaging. 

And, it needs to be somehow with the comment you make – or comments,  maybe multiple – that somehow it gets woven in there that this is the place of the of the place of the Peacemaker, a place of spiritual significance,  this is a very special place, and that a change for peace on this land is rising again. Were not causing the harm and conflict, the opposite. And it’s a spiritual thing that’s begun long ago. It’s here. Somehow you’ve got to figure that all out. You’ll be fancy, you’ll find it. You’ll write it in French or something (laughter) But that’s what they (the Mohawk people) want to make sure gets said. Because people don’t know that, that, all your democracy in the whole world comes from here. I’m sure you know that. And were still here, alive. And we still practice it. 

COMMUNITY MEMBER: We’ve never been the aggressor.

KANENHARIYO: No.

DEPUTY MINISTER JEAN-FRANCOIS TREMBLAY: Were going to share the statement with you guys, before it gets sent out, so that you can confirm it achieves the results you want it to achieve.

MINISTER STAFF MEMBER UNIDENTIED: And you will include the points you have raised earlier? So I shared them with my team and we will will try as much as possible – as best we can to include them as well to ensure your points are raised as well. And we will do our best to let you know beforehand what media we will do tomorrow, which should probably be the major outlets, but we will do our best to inform you before going forward. Might get an email in the middle of the night because it’s really lastminute, but… {laugh}

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I also tend to say stuff that they don’t let me say, so… there’s that.. It usually comes from the heart.

MIKE BURTON: People kept asking me who was talking to the community about the meeting, and looking at me in disbelief when I said “My Minister is talking to the community about the meeting” and they said “Doesn’t he have staff to do that?” and I said “They wanna talk to him so that’s who their talking to.”

DEPUTY MINISTER JEAN-FRANCOIS TREMBLAY: We need to better control it

KANENHARIYO: no, no, we need to unleash more of them… let them be human beings.

KAIATIHTAKEH: Don’t be afraid to lose your jobs. You lose your jobs, well make sure you’re fed, your clothed, as long as you do the right thing.

KANENHARIYO: I’ll share with you a personal with everybody. I know it took a great courage to come here today. I’m sure that you were not very well supported in doing that. I also suspect that you weren’t given much guidance in how to move forward with this, however  I am thankful that you tried, and that we’ve got you here. Because we’ve made some ground maybe. At least, even if it’s just for the day, we’ve enjoyed each other’s company. I hope that it’s not only that. 

Sometimes we don’t feel like we are very powerful. Sometimes we don’t feel like we can make a change. But I know someone who made a fire in a barrel beside a road one day, and that there’s change happening. And if you believe it, if you can be optimistic and believe that it can happen, it will. 

So we have a ceremony, and it’s about fear. And a long time ago, we were all fighting with each other – long before you all got here- it wasn’t always peaches and cream and happy times. A lot of blood spilled. Anyways, nobody’s getting along, they’re all fighting. And it’s not nice – not just arguing, I’m talking murder. And there was a little boy, and we went away from his village, and went fasting by himself. We do that, when a boy becomes a man. We send them out, and they don’t eat, or drink, or anything for four days. Then they come back, and usually they’ve got some sort of message for the people, or for themselves, they learn something. Well anyways, this little boy went away like that, and he got a song, he got this song – he heard this song, so he’d sing this song. So he decided to come home. 

He was walking home. and back then, if you seen a war party coming, you’d go and hide in the bushes, cus’ if they’d seen you, they’d kill you, take your things. 

So this little boy was walking along the path and there was this war party coming the other way. A party of men and they were carrying all their things. And this little boy is singing his song. And these men come upon him, and he was still singing. He had his eyes closed, still singing. And they were shocked, ‘cause he didn’t run, and he didn’t go hide in the bushes. And they parted ways, and watched this little boy walk by them, and he just kept singing the same song over and over again, and walked right past them all. They were shocked. This was unheard of at the time. And he walked home, all the way back to his mother’s house, and he sang this song for his mother. “Oh it’s a pretty song” she thought. 

Some time past, and those men, they went back to their village – the war party. And they started to talk about how that other village had some sort of powerful medicine, and that they weren’t afraid of them – that even their little children weren’t afraid of the war party, that they would walk right past them without fear at all. And they were shocked and surprised. And they began to be afraid of that other village, because whatever kind of medicine they had, or whatever weapon that they had was so powerful that even the kids aren’t afraid of their enemy. And so they got nervous. 

So, they had a meeting, and they decided that they were going to send a delegation to go over there to meet with that village because they were so afraid of them, they were getting nervous about them. So they went over there, and when they got there, they said they wanted to know what kind of medicine that they had. They gathered them together, and weren’t sure what they were talking about. And so they went and got that little boy and asked him what happened. And he sang that song. And he said that when that song was given to him, he told them that the song was so that he wouldn’t be afraid. And so they learned something about fear. They learned that fear was what was causing war. And that if you don’t have fear, you walk past it. And so that became part of our society and our culture. And our young men go off and they fast, and they get a song. And so when they get afraid, they’re supposed to sing that song, and drive that fear out of their heart, so that they can deal with other people. 

And when our babies are born, we sing that same song, so we can carry our babies without fear. That’s one of those laws of this land. 

We need to be careful not to be afraid, but to guide each other away from that. Because when we don’t have that fear, and we can just sit and talk, and find a way. 

Look at all the people who were afraid for us to come here. They’re afraid that we were coming to have this meeting. On my side, and on your side – they tried to make you afraid. They were so afraid that they tried to make you afraid so you wouldn’t come. 

And that’s that fear that’s causing us to have a conflict. Because we don’t know enough to not be afraid. So I encourage you to find medicine – a song, a whatever – spread it amongst your people so we can not be afraid of one another and we can get our business done.

I appreciate that you came here today, I think we all do. Maybe it’s – hopefully it’s – not lip service, and that the people listen to you. And if they don’t, well you tried. And we did too. 

None of us know what’s going to happen next, but we did our best. And, how will we know how to get ahold of you?

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Same way

KANENHARIYO: Oh, same way?

DEPUTY MINISTER JEAN-FRANCOIS TREMBLAY: Cell phone.

KANENHARIYO: Really? (laughter) Okay

DEPUTY MINISTER JEAN-FRANCOIS TREMBLAY: We haven’t changed his email. 

KANENHARIYO: Well, we emailed you before, and you didn’t get it.

MIKE BURTON: well, not his personal email? You emailed a work email, which we are…

KANENHARIYO: Oh its your fault

DEPUTY MINISTER JEAN-FRANCOIS TREMBLAY: It’s my fault

MIKE BURTON: It’s my fault too, it could have come to my side of things. It’s one of our faults. 

MINISTER MARC MILLER: Quite frankly we get lots of communication, the best way is just directly to me, or to staff. It may not have changed anything

KANENHARIYO: Probably not. Hopefully today did.

MINISTER MARC MILLER: I believe so 

KANENHARIYO: You better stay in there awhile. Or get the bigger job. (laughter)  (Inaudible) I know he’s your friend though. It’s been rough. Anyways. Is there anymore to be said?

COMMUNITY MEMBER: Let’s get it in the educational system. From grade one up. Let them learn the Two Row, Covenant then they can begin to understand. Then we can build on that. When they grow up, after high school, they are going to know something. We don’t know who they are, they don’t know who we are. Maybe this wouldn’t be happening all the time. You know, pulling on trains, and planes, and automobiles, and boats, and bridges. 

(laughter)

KANENHARIYO: Well, I guess we gotta call it a night, we have more work to do. I don’t know how to end this, other than we have a way that we close up our day. We open our day, we give thanks to a young man (inaudible), anyways, I don’t know if he’s still here… wanna close up? Somebody…

COMMUNITY MEMBER: (closes meeting in Mohawk language.)