On Monday April 18th, Indigenous families and allies occupied the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) office in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. They demanded immediate actions to address the crises of suicide and poverty in Attawapiskat and issued this statement. The occupation ended on April 23rd, after the ministers of INAC and Canadian Heritage agreed to meet with the group in May.
In the spirit of Chief Dan George, love, peace and resistance, we stand in solidarity with all Indigenous children across Turtle Island who suffer with the effects of genocide.
The children are crying, the children are dying, and colonialism is to blame; but as parents we must be accountable to those young ones around us. Occupy INAC Vancouver has heard the cries from the children of Attawapiskat and parents with their children have come together in solidarity to denounce the unacceptable treatment of Indigenous children and youth across this country.
The Indian Act celebrated its 140th inception date and is the sole entity responsible for assimilation or eradication of the Indian population. This policy has caused harm for 140 years amongst our nations, communities, villages and families by destroying the individual’s connection to the land, culture, traditions and languages. The “belonging” our people possessed shape-shifted into despair and our people began to resist that assimilation or eradication. Amongst the destruction of our nationhood, the Indian Act perpetuated the cycle of hate and violence through the generations but with each breath you take, you become part of the resistance.
To the Indigenous parent, your child/ren needs you. They need you to understand colonialism, assimilation, residential schools and how these affect your every day life. They need you to teach them how sacred our land and women are. They need you to teach them that Canada is gunning for them. They need you to teach them that culture saves lives. Mostly they need to know they are loved and they belong. Please uphold your sacred responsibility.
The children of Attawapiskat amplified the cries of all Indigenous children across Canada and Occupy INAC-Vancouver stands in solidarity with them. Keep resisting, keep loving, and keep speaking your absolute truth because you are being heard.
All My Relations, Occupy INAC Vancouver