By Xavier Kataquapit
It is the time of gatherings and festivals for my people all across Turtle Island. Many Indigenous communities are making the most of summer and also the autumn after not being able to gather much since the COVID-19 pandemic. There are powwows, traditional gatherings of all sorts, music and fun time events and hundreds of non=-Indigenous celebrations throughout Canada.
As much as I and my partner would like to get out and enjoy some of these events, it is impossible as he has a health condition that does not allow for taking the risk of getting COVID or any other kind of flu or infection. Still that is fine as we have done so much travelling and touring in the past and have wonderful memories of those times. We like watching videos and reports from family and friends as they enjoy their time at these gatherings.
This year back in my home community of Attawapiskat a group of people, including my brother Joe, managed to stage a spectacular gathering called Kattawapiskak Keekehwin Gathering. I know how much work it is to organize huge seven-day events such as this and I congratulate everyone who worked so hard to make it happen.
Many of my family members and friends worked for days and tirelessly to bring some great music from bands such as Honeymoon Suite and Trooper. Adrian Sutherland, our very own music star from Attawapiskat, was also on hand to help out and to perform for the event. There were games. Bingo was a huge part of the activities. Lots of sport competitions and even a drone drop. The Elders were featured with events dedicated to them, and as well the young were also treated to all kinds of entertainment and games where many were delighted with prizes.
Events also ran in so many Indigenous communities and up the James Bay coast and Northern Ontario. Many of these events were challenged by huge forest fires burning in the north and other provinces which resulted in a lot of smoke. Even with all of these challenges organizers managed to put together incredible entertainment events and powwows and that says a lot about the quality of northerners when it comes to making things happen.
We all have had a tough time dealing with the COVID pandemic, terrible forest fires, climate change reality with strange weather, a concerning recession and, of course, the ongoing war in the Ukraine, so having the chance to forget it all for a few days with traditional powwows and gatherings, as well as music and arts events, has helped a lot.
The one thing I would hope in watching all of the energy, skill and time dedicated by so many to make all these events happen is that we also put some effort into pushing our governments to step up and work towards making the world a more peaceful place.
Why are we not organizing to pressure governments to get rid of nuclear weapons or at the very least get back to negotiating treaties to reduce the numbers and put some restrictions in place? The United States and Russia have backed out of treaties that were agreed to many years ago and that the ongoing Ukraine War has made the possibility of a nuclear war or accident very possible.
This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward mostly because of the mounting dangers of the Ukraine War. The clock is currently at 90 seconds to midnight which is the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been. The Doomsday Clock, which was started in 1947, warns the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies like nuclear weapons. The board is made up of scientists and other experts with deep knowledge of nuclear technology and climate science.
We seldom think about the danger of nuclear war and other threatening situations like climate change. We just don’t realize how world leaders and powerful interests would rather save the economy and financial interests rather than consider the future of humanity. We are putting something as huge as this out of our minds. If a nuclear event were to happen, we can all say goodbye to our normal lives. Most of our planet would be destroyed and civilization would cease to exist.
There is a time to celebrate and a time to be happy, but our world is becoming overshadowed by global changes with the possibility of nuclear war, the growing threat of climate change and the potential for financial regression or even depression.
These are the worries that occupy my mind when I think of all the celebrations we enjoy. If we do not keep in mind the world we are living in and the threats that are building, we may not have anything to celebrate in the future. We have to do more to force our governments and leaders to do the right thing to save Mother Earth. Time is running out.