A letter written for publication with the Halifax Media Co-op by Troy J. Gould (Thunderbird heart), a L'nu from We'koqmaq, Cape Breton, father of four boys and one girl. Troy turned down a professional fighting career in boxing for a simpler way of life, providing to his family through fishing, hunting, gardening and harvesting wild foods. His fight for nature is also a fight for our children and all future generations.
We'koqmaq is a First Nations community resisting oil and gas exploration in Lake Ainslie. PetroWorth, a junior exploration company, has a lease over 383,000 acres--the Lake Ainslie Block. First Nations and non-Native residents of Cape Breton and across Nova Scotia have united in opposition to any kind of drilling on Lake Ainslie, and the Inverness County Council, the municipality in which Lake Ainslie is located, is the only municipality in Nova Scotia so far to pass a resolution supporting a provincial ban on hydrofracking. However, We'koqmaq has been front-and-centre in this resistance movement, calling on the provincial government to respect treaty rights and stop giving away Nova Scotia's natural resources to companies for profit.
We face a major dilemma. Capitalism is driven by finance, to make profit at the expense of nature and the web of life. For example, multinational corporations bleed Mother Earth and nature for profits. If we allow the multinationals and companies Kwilmu'kw Maw-klusuaqn (KMK, or Mi’kmaq rights initiative) is entertaining, such as PetroWorth, to drill Lake Ainslie, the end result would be genocide to L’Nu. Human beings, insects, mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, the entire biodiversity, will be affected and killed off. This is done all for profit under capitalism; this is a plunder of water and resources by multinationals--industry--for self-gain.
People, animals, insects and birds will become sick and die, become brain damaged, paralyzed and die, if hydraulic fracking or drilling of ANY kind is allowed to occur at Lake Ainslie. The end result will be flagrant if chemical drilling is permitted upon or adjacent to our watershed. Ground waters, aquifers and deep fault lines will be destroyed, and soon the chemicals used will reach our underground drinking sources and inevitably reach the Bras D’Or lakes and contaminate them on a noticeable scale, shortly after the chemical high-pressure water drilling commences. The end result will be a general massacre.
Will this be the time some of you will rebel? By then, it will be too late, the severity will be at its peak, and your timing to take actions will be a great loss of lives and devastations to our traditional lands, waters, eco-system and the entire biodiversity will be crippled. Is this what you want to hand down to your children and grandchildren? Is this the legacy you wish to leave them?
Farming will be wiped out, gardening will be greatly threatened, the rains and weather will be altered… Is this what you will wait for? To transgress our basic, human, unalienable rights? Your passiveness or unwillingness to act now; you will massacre the coming generations and young people. Is this really the legacy and price we and you are willing to pay for profits, a job, paper money?
Is the driven goal behind such destruction to all life to make money? Have we L’nu become pillagers of Nature? Are we willing to sacrifice our children’s lives and futures for monies and monetary wealth? If this is what the Grand Council, its supporters, along with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Chief and Councils have led us to, if this is what their goals are, then they give us no other recourse but to rebel. Our burial grounds, ancient places, spiritual locations are being plowed by pillagers, and the drive is profiteering and capitalism.
The ideology of capitalism is a great burden and dilemma to our generation and the generations to come. We’ve sunk to the low of new lows, and we dare call ourselves L’nu? We throw away our tribal customary law, tarnish our ancestors' beliefs, risk our treaties they fought and died for to preserve our natural way of life, and to save the following several generations. This method has no future. To plunder our drinking waters and exploit nature, there is no future for us or for our grandchildren. Even greater--this threatens the planet’s life.
Chemical drilling for shale gas will destroy the microbiology of life in the soils and waters, which will destroy and kill the very planet we live upon--Mother Earth. Some of these chemicals are indestructible and will last for eons and centuries, poisoning us internally by poisoning our food systems. They will penetrate our soil, our waters, end up in our stomachs. Large landowners and multinationals are imposing destruction on our entire biodiversity.
The capitalist economy is a “guy” thing and it removes women from itself. The fundamental functioning of L’nu people was by women. Women would farm the lands, because they are fertile. Women did all the basic work, but now, we see plantations, and this becomes a guy thing. Anyone who studies world economy will know this to be true, and it has consequences. Our matriarch and clan mothers have been removed and replaced with a guy-thing-type of economy. It’s time we re-empower our women: their fertility will restore our people and balance nature and our tribe, and we will unite and be cared back to healthy people, nation, and communities.
The current political bodies are designed to wipe us out. It’s a comprehensive plan to eliminate our Nation, our treaties and sovereignty, which already successfully cleared out the matriarch—the clan mothers’ roles. If PetroWorth and other multinationals come to develop our lands and resources the water will be inevitably exploited and destroyed.
United Nations has defined genocide: an act to deliberately exterminate or wipe out a group of people. What is being done is a deliberate design to harm us, our women being removed and omitted by way of the Grand Council and INAC Chief and Council. They are complying for capitalistic gains; this is a deliberate means to our ends. Water, food and gardening is our last reserve. This is where women had the power, where they are life givers, the fertile, the food growers and pickers, collectors and seed keepers and food distributors, and so long as women have their roles intact our society will be free, our society will be looked after, our society will flourish. Until this happens, our treaties and our rights will continue to lose value and be further away from our Nation’s sovereignty. We will be enslaved as a people.
When we have people living as day labourers on our own lands to pay debts, the system is not working. Loss of lands, resources, apartheid is in the making. Incurring debts and deficits, and being forced into bankruptcy is a trick or, at the very least, the wrong model. We should not be following or trying to adapt from the dominant societies, especially those with Euro-centric ideologies and methods of governance and feeding a people. We now know fossil fuels are not inexhaustible, and the majority of our everyday life, farming, foods, is based predominantly on fossil fuels, greenhouses, pesticides, tractors, equipment and tools--all made with or run off fossil fuel. This will stop us from living and, our generations, something is happening: we are becoming conscious of the dilemmas facing us, and this is leading to a revolt that no one can suppress. This generation and the next are awakening, something is stirring inside of us, and we know the systems are failing us and multinationals, industry, Grand Council and Indian Act Chief and Council are the causes. We have nothing, the majority of young people, nothing to do. Unemployment is 90% and our Band deficits are growing. What models do we accept? We have to re-model our current state and affairs, but at what cost and sacrifice? We need our water, our gardens and our women’s roles back. In this we will find our social security, and a re-emergence of women’s power will bring balance and our freedom from this man-made mess we call civilization and progress.
To take away people’s rights of sustainability, lands, resources, food sources, water, lands to hunt, gather, farm, fish, treaties, and our identities with threats of a multinational coming here to develop and destroy our watershed is an act of terrorism. What we need to do is have our grandmothers’ roles back, as cultivators of our lands and traditional methods of governance and growing our foods and nourishing our nation back to health. Doing so is a form of political activism and a form of resistance from hegemony and re-establishing our autonomy as a people and Nation. Having a healthy environment and keeping it healthy builds a strong healthy people and community, tribe and Nation. A real need and the survival of our people and children deeply depends and relies on what decisions we will make today and what sacrifices we are willing to take to preserve our healthy environment, nature, waters and soils. What we put into the earth, water and soils eventually lands on our table and into our bodies. We have to protect our ancient sites and waterways and re-emerge with ancient methods of caring for our earth and tribes, which were the grandmothers’ roles.