The following is a transcription of a facebook live broadcast from Shanon Chief, an Anishnabe land protector.
It is a call for all the native and non-native allies to join and support the blockade. Version française disponible.
My name is Shannon Chief. I am from Anishnabe Algonquin Territory. I was raised in Barrier Lake. I am here with our people. We are now asking some people to come out and help and if they can make their way up to our territory. I want to give a brief summary of what's happening out here recently in our unceded territory.
The road 117 passes through Parc La Verendrye, and on that highway we have a community called Rapid Lake near Le Domaine. Throughout that highway there are a lot of different access roads going into the park. This is where we are trying to stop trophy hunters, called so because they mostly just drive around with moose heads as their trophies. We are not trying to go to war with non-indigenous people, but we are trying to get our point straight across so they can understand from our indigenous point of view what we are trying to save by blocking the roads and not allowing trophy hunters to go in anymore.
Back in the 1980's, they made an agreement with the Sépaq that they would open this space for hunting for ten years. It used to be a protected park before. When they brought in the hunters for the first time, they would try to bring one or two indigenous men to work for their non-indigenous hunters so they would have guidance when they go out hunting, and so that the way we manage the moose population would be taking care of them. They wouldn't shoot the female, only the male and so on. Things were okay but then our people and the promises that were made to us got forgotten along the way.
And so last year, what they tried is giving out pamphlets and letting the hunters know that the moose population is going down, and also getting the Sépaq to understand that the moose moratorium has to be done, there has to be studies, their needs to be a moose count, there needs to be a way to protect the moose for the ten to twenty coming years or so. Nothing was really done. The only thing that was done was that they decreased the numbers of how many permits were given. The ministry of wildlife sells these permits to non-indigenous people, begining January, to February. They are $1500 to $2500 for a group of hunters. So if you calculate, region to region in Québec, they make over 2 to 3 million dollars, just for moose hunting permits. Even if some of them don't come up with moose, they still pay for the permit to get out there. And at the same time, it gets very intense when they see indigenous people trying to go hunting.
For us, we eat the moose, we take care of all the parts of the moose. We use the hide for art and crafts, we teach our kids to tan and then all the meat is separated. And you know even with the head we don't put the head on our car showing off what we kill. We're out here for a lot of different things. For example, this morning I had a conversation with a grandmother regarding the decision of why they decided to block the road completely and go out to the land and kick out the hunters, saying it's enough. When we look at how the animals eat on the land, you think about deforestation, all the mining projects and also the big pipeline project thats coming in our territory. That's another big struggle for us here.
Unity is so hard in our nation, because politics has been dividing our people for so many years, so it's kinda hard to have our community together. But there's something that we all have in common and it's the food that we eat. As a mother myself I worry about my children and my grandchildren, you know, how are they gonna do the hunt of the moose if we don't care or find a way to protect the population from depreciating? So when non-indigenous hunters are coming in our territory, what happens is that often times we find the moose headless. Maybe some of them take the meat, but they don’t really kill for the purpose of survival the way our people do for many years.
And so our grandmothers this morning were explaining to me that there's gonna be a time when we’re not gonna have food anymore on our territory. And the reason why that happens is because the way all these companies are coming in our territory and cutting trees down. The way it’s done, it's so massive, it’s so big that it only takes a few seconds to cut down and completely remove the branches. It's why the people don’t work for the companies anymore, there’s no opportunities for our people out here. They just come here and take and they don’t consider giving back what we deserve in a way to take care of ourself but also to have jobs and everything.
So a lot of that economy that Canada and Québec does, it’s always for themselves, it’s always for their properties and it’s always for them to keep growing. And what we are left with is that we are being privatized in every each way. When they take the trees, when they come in and mine, when they try to build pipelines, and now the moose. The moose number is going down, that’s a fact that we’ve seen year after year and you see when you drive through the Parc de La Verandrye. When I was about 12 or 13 years old we used to drive over here and we would see a moose in almost every lake. That’s how much moose there were. And now there’s none when you drive by, it's rare.
Oftentimes if we get moose meat it's because it's roadkill. So we barely eat as much moose, anyway we're grateful if we're able to have that meat. And so a grandmother this morning was explaining a dream that her mother had. She said that the moose came running in her tent, but before the moose ran in her tent, there was a gunshot and then the moose ran in the tent. He was looking for protection. So a moose cannot speak for itself, but what it said is, "I need help, I need your protection." It's trying to say, you know my family and I are all getting killed. This is like us being in a time of war and we're trying to say: we need some help out here, my family is in danger. It's the same thing the moose is trying to say.
And so these are the things that our grandmothers were trying to express this morning, when they decided to block the roads instead of just following the same approch as last year, were we had just given out papers and pamphlets, trying to get them to understand. But they won't understand, they won't see that. So we need to do something more solid in a way where our point is finally gonna get across, we're going to be able to sit face to face and talk about this. Create some rules, something that we can all agree on.
And today is actually the first day where our people are starting to go back to those same locations, where they're building these camps alongside the highway. So we have a lot of children here, we have women, we have our grandmothers, we have our elders, and they're building up all these kitchens for each place, so if some people out there can give generously. If you pass by La Vérandrye park along the highway 117, you can come and drop off food, tea, coffee. And we're also extending our invitation to other nations, the warrior societies, if they can respond and come up here and help us out.
This hunting season is gonna go on for a month starting tommorrow and all the way to October 12. So we would need a lot of helpers coming out here. Bring your tents, bring your rubber boots, 'cause it's kinda muddy today, bring some raincoats, something warm to wear. Bring your guys, bring your families. We're trying to make everything as much safe as possible, there's a lot of room, so if you're worried about the covid, there's lots of room, everybody is very spaced out. We believe that the more we keep our sacred fires, the more we have our ceremonies along the process of this thing, that the Creator will always watch over us and protect us from things like that, because what we are doing is so, so, so important.
To protect the moose, but it's not only just the moose, it's also the other animals, like the bears. There where four dead bears that were left for dead, and that was within our area, somewhere in Quebec, on our Anishnabe Algonquin territory. We need all our people, all our Anishnabe people to come together. Something in common, that's our food, you know, the moose gives us so much, gives us so much for our culture to live on. You know, we make our regalias, we make our drums, we make our raddles, we do our ceremonies...
If you have donations, you can bring that over here. If you wanna do direct e-transfer, get in contact with me, so I can provide you some adresses to send that to. We also have that funding thing, if you wanna look at Moose Moratorium, follow that too, we will try to post as much as we can on there.