Ceremony of removing Cornwallis, July 15th 2017
My Indian name is Mother Earth, and my colonial name is Isabelle Knockwood. I’m from the Shubanacadie band. It’s an honor for me to be here, and do the opening ceremony. I realize we come from different directions. Four different directions. Four different places. Many many cultures. And we have our own spiritual beliefs systems that we brought with us today. I want to tell you that opening this ceremony I’m going to be doing this morning is a direct teaching of my mother. And in no way does it conflict with anybody’s beliefs. You are not required to believe anything, or accept anything I say. Just know that I’m here with a good heart.
And that I want you to know that the purpose of this ceremony is to ground us in the present. Because we bring our history. And our history in Nova Scotia regarding this man is ugly. And it’s especially ugly for Mi’kmaq people.
But I want you to understand also, you are on unceded land. This land, Mi’kmaq, Mi’kmaq territory, was never sold and was never given up. Never ceded or surrendered. All we had was stone tools, stone spears, and when the Europeans and Asians and other races came here, all we had to defend ourselves was stone tools. You had the weapons, and you had liquor. You brought the whiskey. We didn’t have alcohol. And those are the two things that did us in. We had nothing, we had nothing, but we’re still here and we still didn’t surrender! We never surrendered anything. We have nothing today, but we’re still here.
My ceremony is going to be facing in the four directions. I start off in the East, because we are Wabanakies. Wabanaki comes from the word Wejkwapeniaq. Wejkwapeniaq means the “coming of the white light”. The white light at dawn. That’s when we are used to start our day, at dawn. And our people used to pray to the dawn. To greet the dawn. That’s why I’m going to pray to the East. Then I’m going to face South, and do a certain prayer for that way, then the West and the North. I’ll walk around here.
Just a little teaching, I’ll explain so you know what I’m doing. When we face East, we ask for things that are mental, intellectual, our dreams, our visions, our goals. And what’s our goal for today. You decide what your goal is for today, when I ask the spirits. When I face South, I’m going to ask the creator to bless our emotions. Because there is a lot of anger, and a lot of conflict associated with this statue and with this man, and with the war crimes. That’s for the South. We’re going to replace all our anger with love and understanding and tolerance. Then we face the West, and that’s where we ask for spirit guides. We’re going to ask for guidance on ways of how to help each other. How to understand each other. When we face West. When we face North, we’re going to thank for materializing all our wishes and all our visions and all our dreams. When we face North. And then the ceremony will be over.
So we’ll start.
Oh, Great spirit of the East, I summon thee from the far corners of the universe. To this park in Halifax, K’jipuktuk. To clear our minds. Clear our minds. Remove distractions. So you be able to see your goal in life clearly. And you will know what to do with your life. With the rest of your life.
Now we’re going to face South.
Great spirit of the South, I summon thee from the far corners of the universe, to this ceremony at this park in Halifax. To remove all our negative feelings. All our anger. All our frustration. To replace it with tolerance, understanding and love for each other.
It’s a tough one to let go of, because we are all victims of war. No matter where we came from. We’re all victims of war. Some of us think we won, some of us think we lost (laughs). We’re all losers in war, and were all winners in peace. (crowd cheers)
Great spirit of the West, send us spirit guides and helpers. And spirits guide can be Ancestors. Could be animals. Could be birds. Could be people. You could be each other’s guides. In this journey that we have to do. We’re on the Earth together. We have no choice. We’re here. We might as well get along. (crowd laughs and cheers) People have spirit guides, animals for spirit guides, eagles, thunderbirds. Great animals, lions, wolves, bears. My spirit guide is a chipmunk. (crowd laughs) Talks a lot. That’s my spirit guide. Each of you has a spirit guide. Could be your ancestors. And our ancestors, when they first met each other, our ancestors, they were glad to see each other. It’s when the politicians and the missionaries and the traders and the capitalists and the others. When they all started making rules and politics and putting us on reservations and whatever, that’s where we started to fight each other. And now, enough. (crowd: “enough!”)
Great spirit of the North, I summon thee from the far corners of the universe, to this ceremony in Halifax. At the park at – is this a “Cornwallis Park”? (laughs) Cornwallis Park. (crowd: “we have to change that too”) Tonight when the sun goes down, the day will be over. And that’s when our – when we face North, that’s when everything materializes. Everything we thought about today, or we wished for, or had visions or dreams about, today, it all materializes when we face North. And at the end of the day, when we put down our tobacco, at the end of the day, we will thank the Creator for the day. And we will put our deeds, our good deeds and our good thoughts on the altar. And we’ll tell the Creator, “This is what I did with this day that you gave me. Thank you”.
I’ll send all my blessings to everyone:
I ask the Creator to clear your minds, so that you are able to see your goal in life clearly. And you will know what to do.
I ask the Creator to take all the burdens from your shoulders that are not yours. And have strength to do your own. When you carry somebody else’s burden, you are enabling them. You help them, you teach them what to do, but don’t do their work for them. Just do your own.
I ask the Creator to remove all your anger . All your frustration. And replace it with love and understanding for each other. Fill our hearts with understanding and tolerance for each other, so that our words will be pure and perfect and loving. And true.
I ask the Creator to guide – bless your hands! Bless your hands, so that you’d be able to do the work that you were created to do. Bless your hands.
And I ask the Creator to remove all sicknesses from your body. All your worries and fears, and give them back to Mother Earth.
I ask the Creator to protect your backs. So that you will not be – adversely affected by things that are being said and done behind your backs. Especially politics and what the government plans. What happened here (points to statue). We had no input in that. I don’t think we the people had input in that. Things like that, that happened in history, things have planned behind closed doors. By generals and military guys. We ask the Creator to protect our backs from that, and protect each other’s backs too.
I ask the creator to protect your footsteps. And keep you out of harm’s way. Stay in the present. This ceremony is not in any way conflicts with any of your religions, but just stay in the present for today. Focusing on what we’re going to do today. Msit No’kmaq. Means “all my relations”. We are all related. We are all related. Msit No’kmaq.
Crowd member: “Huge support from Palestine!” (Crowd cheers)