WHO Garry Sault, Mississaugas of New Credit
WHY HE'S HERE "Canada finds it cheaper to negotiate than settle land claims. The Anishnabe used to go to the Toronto Islands for vision fasts. When a young man comes of age, he fasts to see what life holds for him. It's usually when he's given his name and a helper comes to him. A woman is born whole. You can name her right away and it will last through her life. That's because she has the ability to cleanse herself once a month."
WHO Peter Schuler, Mississaugas of New Credit
WHY HE'S HERE "When we moved from here to the New Credit, the government thought we would die off, but we didn't. The British had a method for their treaties: starve the people and then offer to buy their land. If the Europeans had adopted our belief system, they would have been a lot better off. One of our elders says, We never worshipped the Devil, contrary to what people say, because the Devil didn't get here until 1492. '"
WHO Faith King, Mississaugas of New Credit
WHY SHE'S HERE "Mother Earth has been ravaged to death, and she's fighting back. And when she fights back, we fight back. How are we going to protect her if we don't protect the waters - her bloodline? This is my traditional homeland, and it feels good to be here and to know that my ancestors were there on the islands healing people. I want a cultural centre here so my children will come and see what their ancestors did."
WHO Wayne Allcorn, Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre
WHY HE'S HERE "So many reserves up north are in Third World conditions. Each successive government just hands responsibility off to the next. By the time they do get something done, it's just a band-aid on an open wound. Coming together like this, you can feel the pride. There are elders and little babies, and everyone eats and sings as a community."
WHO Hayli Sault, Mississaugas of New Credit
WHY SHE'S HERE "We're a nation tired of being bullied. There are 700 or 800 people on the reserve, but there are more on the band list. We want our land so our future generations will have a home to grow up in and won't be confined to our little reserve."
WHO Andrew Joseph, student of Aboriginal law and advocacy, Confederation College, Thunder Bay; member of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations of the Iroquois)
WHY HE'S HERE "Most of the remote communities are devastated by poverty - fallout from assimilationist, paternalistic policies. People don't realize how positively brutal these conditions are. The federal government works hard to move us to the background - and that's the purpose of a day like today: to rise up and make sure we are seen and heard."