ANNIE SILVESTER/Bullet News
Flurries and cold weather did little to deter a group of about 100 people from the Niagara Two Row Coalition from gathering in front of City Hall in St. Catharines Saturday morning for a march.
The group consisted of the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) people and their Niagara allies and their presence was to draw awareness to the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum Treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Dutch settlers.
Participant Elizabeth Chitty described its significance more fully to Bullet News.
“It’s kind of the mother of all treaties between the indigenous people of Turtle Island and North America and the Europeans that came to the continent. It is a treaty of peace, respect and friendship based on non -interference. Obviously she says though, through the years “the treaty has been violated.”
Participant Graham Paradis, a Metis who lives in Niagara talked about the importance of the event to him.
“What we have seen lately I find is that the Canadian Government has taken this responsibility and are saying that they are in a paternal relationship with aboriginal nations when that’s not what it is meant to be. We are meant to be brother nations travelling alongside each other travelling down that river in separate canoes and separate vessels in peace and harmony.”
Organizer Jamie McGean said that the group was confident a peaceful march would get them the attention they wanted towards the treaty, one of the key points behind the Idle No More Movement as well. But, he acknowledged that coming together as “one nation” for a common goal was key in successfully communicating their message.
“The things that affect aboriginal people do not only affect aboriginal people they affect everybody and what we’re fighting for affects everyone.”
The march itself featured large banners resembling the Two Row Wampum Belt which is a visual instrument, made with two rows of purple Wampum on a bed of white beads. One purple row represents the Haudenosaunee and the other the Europeans, each carrying their way of life in peace.
The march which had buses come in from Brantford, London and Toronto ended at Montebello Park where the group gathered for activities like drumming, dancing and speakers.
For more information visit their Facebook page Idle No More Niagara.