More from Alex in Grassy Narrows. Stay tuned for more developments and pictures from Grassy throughout the Summer.
We arrived at Grassy Narrows on Saturday the 27th. We are camped right at the blockade site – roundhouse, wigwam, teepees and all. I find something very inspirational about the notion of living on this site for the summer.
For a couple of days, most of our activities are geared toward setting up camp. For the twelve of us here for two months – that takes a lot of work.
On Sunday, Judy DaSilva and her husband Bepgogoti came by with their children to welcome us, and invite us to a Pow Wow that night on Waszuk Onigum First Nation near Kenora. Judy is a Clan Mother, and has been incredibly welcoming and inspirational to our group. Her husband is Kayapo—an indigenous community in the Brazilain Amazon. He has some of the best cowboy and travel stories I’ve ever heard. We stand to learn an immeasurable amount from both of them.
That night we piled back into the van and drove south to Waszuk Onigum for the Pow Wow. There was much to take in there, intricately beautiful and unique ceremonial outfits. Many different songs and dance styles were some of the more prominent sights. We ate the best fish I’ve ever eaten in my life – deep fried walleye.
Lyle, from a First Nation in Manitoba, spoke to us briefly about the blockade and his long standing friendship with Judy. Before he left, he said “we’re with you,” meaning his First Nation supported the blockade and anyone involved with it. This I think may have been the first personal, emotional connection I’ve made with the notion of solidarity. It also reinforced how important this blockade and the issues surrounding it are to not only this community, but also as a matter of precedent for indigenous communities in the rest of the province and the country.
Finally, there was the dancing. Specifically, there was us dancing in one of the large inter-tribal dances. Children handed out gifts. When we received gifts, it felt slightly awkward to say the least, but we all happily received them. The next dance, we were told, was for everyone who received something from the community—so we danced.
Thanks Alex! More info, updates and ways to lend a hand at FreeGrassy.org