First Nations Shaming Ceremony Challenges Parliament to New Relationship

27 07 2014

A traditional shaming ceremony being held on the steps of Parliament is meant to challenge the federal government to renew its troubled relationship with First Nations, says a prominent West Coast artist.

Beau Dick, 59, a master carver and hereditary chief from the Namgis First Nation, says today’s ceremony involves cutting or breaking a large copper shield.

“Breaking copper is a challenge, it is also a shaming, and it is also about banishment,” Dick explained.

“There are a lot of layers to this. Some people have described this as a protest and that is valid … [But] it’s beyond that. What it is, is about waking up the consciousness.”

Once practised throughout the Pacific Northwest, when copper shields were a measure of wealth and power, the shaming rite had all but disappeared until Dick revived it with a ceremony in front of the B.C. legislature in 2013.

Beau Dick

Beau Dick, carver and hereditary chief from Namgis First Nation, B.C., will be performing a copper cutting shaming ceremony at Parliament Hill on Sunday, July 27. (Youtube.com)

Giindajin HaawastiGuujaaw, a master carver who served as president of the Council of the Haida Nation for 13 years, provided the copper for the shield.Guujaaw has been a high-profile figure since the ’70s, when he led efforts to protect Haida Gwaiifrom logging and other resource development.

“[The] copper that is being provided is brought forth by the Haida Nation who have suffered atrocities over the last 150 years, almost totally alienated through genocide,” said Dick.

Dick and other supporters from B.C. First Nations began their journey to Ottawa earlier this month, leaving Vancouver on July 2. They travelled over 5,000 kilometres and made several stops along the way to meet with various communities.

By the time the group arrived in Ottawa on Saturday, they were 20 strong and included members of the Blackfoot Nation in Alberta.

Although the ceremony is meant to shame the federal government, Dick says it also symbolizes an opportunity for the country’s leaders to renew what is seen as a deeply fractured relationship with First Nations.

And he hopes it’s a wake up call for all Canadians.

“Hopefully we can touch the conscience so people will start caring more and work towards creating a world of well-being for all of our children and our mankind,” he said. “People need to be aware of the situation that we’re in in regards to our environment.”

The shaming ceremony is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. ET in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: