The Resisting Project ~ Description
The back story:
A rare Ancestral Seneca O’nesta ~ Corn, was ripped from her long-lost homeland on the flood plane of Niwa’ah Onega’gaih’ih ~ Kobechenonk ~ the Humber River, in so-called Etienne Brulee Park. Yes, that’s where she came from, but hasn’t been *permitted* to grow there in a very long time. The Seed Keeper who gifted me these enchanting opalescent-orange kernels at the Tyendinaga seed exchange, has been preserving this relative at Kanawake. When I shared that I carried a Vision of the Sisters growing on the River again (years in the making), he relayed “that’s where she comes from”. He was deeply moved that we would be bringing her back home.
The Summer of 2019:
The place that we nested these seeds, has been warmed-up well by community ceremony, that I’ve witnessed and then some. For hundreds and hundreds of years, this cultural work has been happening there in and around Taiaiako’n, an Onkwehonwe Longhouse site. Strong two spirit Medicine, more recently especially. And of course, so many wondrous Relatives like Amik, Mikinaak, Wiisagi-ma’iingan, zhashagi, among thousands of others.
I Recognize all the good Spirit work that is there, in that Land.
Our nearby 2S sweat lodge, that this Winter’s epic ice-field levelled, was recycled in a sacred fire and the ashes put into the mounds under the last full Moon. Primarily women, kiddos, 2S + Trans and accomplices welcomed O’nesta in a beautiful planting ceremony with traditional songs and medicine work. We painted a super cute sign, put up branch-poles tied with multi-coloured ribbons and really hoped that this visibility of Indigenous Land-based culture would be appreciated and Respected.
All of the other Relatives did.
As an Earthworker in this city for the past eighteen years and over my lifetime, I’ve seen how human-people are vastly disconnected from the Land. Human society looms over this earth, but doesn’t See Aki’ing ~ Ohontsia, doesn’t See the Sacred and inseparable reciprocities. As a 2S Great Lakes metis, my body is a battleground of colonization. Through my Indigenous blood, ancestries of this Land, I carry an understanding that the Divine Feminine is inseparable from our Mother, Earth. As a survivor and resistor of cultural assimilation I know that the Divine Feminine is not Honoured here, not while the Land is desecrated and held hostage by colonial occupation.
A Kanien’keha:ka woman warrior witnessed five men from the city tearing down our Sisters and captured this moment in photo. Spirit intervention, giving us a powerful tool! Niawen’ko:wa for responding in responsibility to community. My colleague Shawna saw this post immediately, making it possible for me to rush to the River. My heart was in my throat the whole ride over. The violence of it, for me, one who’d been tending to those babies, those shining faces… it’s an anguish. I felt that I should light a Sacred Fire right then and there, but shame crept in that I would be mocked for caring so much. Damn shame. So the next day we took it to our liaisons at the city, two most excellent Indigenous women who are advocating for our community and our access to the Land. Meanwhile, at the same time the city was tearing down the other garden, with our ceremonial Sema ~ Tobacco and Prairie Sage. I had also transplanted the two remaining Corn seedlings that I’d found buried. I was devastated to find both gardens had been repeatedly driven over.
The grief that’s been choking me since I first arrived at the site of destruction, is also a collective grief. A grief that echoes and builds since last Monday… as I read the MMIWG2S Inquiry Report. Cultural genocide also looks like our people being fearful to practice cultural ceremony, such as growing Tionhéhkwen ~ Our Sustenance ~ the Three Sisters, a tradition so old and at risk of extinction. The barriers to our access must be lifted and the city ~ state must move beyond lip-service and actually practice the policies they have adopted (we have the documentation.).
I had decided to plant all but three of the corn kernels.. three Sisters left to defend and protect.
Since the four day Grief Ceremony has been completed, the Garden that was destroyed has been replanted by Two~Spirit (including those from the original planting) and Indigenous community members and their accomplices and allies. The second planting was amplified in power from the first.
The camp originally made to keep the Sacred Grief Fire going transformed into one to protect the newly replanted corn, beans and squash. Also, it has been a gathering place for Two-Spirit and Indigenous community to assert Indigenous Land Sovereignty and Self-Determination.
Where the City has adopted many dimensions of Truth and Reconciliation and UNDRIP, they have not as yet honoured the right and necessity of Indigenous peoples to engage in their cultural and ceremonial practices on the Land as necessary to resisting cultural genocide.
The ReSistering Garden and Camp has been a focal point to educate the general public about Indigenous rights to Land in the city of Tkoronto, Three Sisters gardening and Ceremony, and challenge the city to follow through with its own policies on re~Indigenizing Tkoronto.
Since the ReSistering Garden and Camp has been here, we have received visits from many people of official capacity. Despite the city’s initial destruction of the first Garden, the Fire and Police departments, Park Security, Toronto Regional Conservation Authority, Street Outreach and Parks and Recreation staff have come to be respectful and acknowledging of Indigenous rights to Ceremony and Cultural Practice on the Land. The Indigenous Peacekeeping of the Toronto Police along with the Toronto Police Park Ambassadors also visited, and after checking that correct protocols were being followed (Elders involvement and regarding Grief Ceremony), showed whole-hearted support.
Most heart warming has been the flood of support and loving energy towards the Garden of local park goers who have brought food, wood, ice cream, conversations, hear felt congratulations and encouragement, understanding and support. All in all, great reconciliatory spirit ~ what we all need more of.
At this time, various Indigenous employees of the city of Toronto and Police are going to be working together to make sure that the ReSistering Garden is recognized and protected. This is an historic move towards breaking down barriers and increasing of access of Indigenous community to Land in Tkoronto for Self-Determination and Cultural Regeneration.