Kevin Annett at the Canadian Embassy in London, April 12th 2010
A group of good hearted people gathered outside the Canadian Embassy, Trafalgar Square, at around midday to hold a vigil for those Indigenous First Nation children who were forcibly removed from their homes, and placed in Residential Schools for their ‘Education’ by the Nuns, Priests and Officials of the Canadian Anglican Church and The Catholic Church aided by the Government of Canada and it’s officials, between 1889 and 1996, of whom at least 50,000 died in those Schools, and many more who died in the aftermath of the trauma they endured.
These enforced removals were ‘legal’ under The Indian Act. The abuses were not legalised, but went unopposed by the Canadian State and the leadership of the United Church of Canada and The Roman Catholic Church and all others involved.
The False Advert outside the Canadian Embassy pretending to include the wisdom and active participation of the Canadian First Peoples in the Olympics and in Canadian State policy with regards to 'sustainability'.
The agenda was not so much to benefit the children, but to break the living spirit of the communities from which these children came, as a means to appropriating the lands of those communities for the use of the State and Commerce. To extirpate the living wisdom of a people, to destroy their cultural roots and to supplant that with a tourist attraction version of those cultural heritages, that was and remains, in essence, a genocide.
Kevin Annett, who as a young United Church of Canada Priest (see comments below concerning the correction by 'raspberry'), discovered these crimes in his conversations with First Peoples in his parish in the early 90s, and sought to bring to light the nature, extent and brutality of the Residential School system so as to facilitate a healing and a recognition and a move towards reparation and reconciliation, has written two books on the subject, littered with stories and documented evidence that is incontrovertible.
Kevin Annett paid a heavy price for his heart based work, losing his post as a Priest, his family and enduring intimidation, violence and obstruction as he sought to give voice to the voiceless. Nonetheless Kevin has pursued this path diligently and with profound courage and compassion. Seeking only resolution, avoiding any sense of revenge, he has been ostracised within Canadian Society. So it goes.
He was in London for a few days, as he is engaged in a journey around Europe to work with others who are aware of the ubiquity of this issue, across many nations. He has been to Rome, will visit Ireland and Germany before returning to Canada.
Kevin has also made an award winning documentary ‘Unrepentant’ on the issue in Canada.
The Prelude to the Ceremony
I was one of a group of people who had been following Kevin’s work, and we had gathered together from all parts of London at midday outside the Public Entrance to The Canadian Embassy on Pall Mall, the road leading to the North West of Trafalgar Square. We were attended by a couple of Police Men and some nervous looking Security Guards. As we gathered we discussed how best to proceed with the ceremony.
We were waiting on the arrival or a camera team to record the proceedings when it became clear that some of our number were unaware of the legality of holding such a vigil under wide ranging restrictions imposed by the SOCPA Act 2005. With that in mind we moved into Trafalgar Square to consider our position. Once there we noted 5 Heritage Security personnel were observing our group.
After some deliberation we decided to congregate in Trafalgar Square, at the West Side, in front of the Canadian Embassy, as that would proved an appropriate back drop to our ceremony.
Within minutes two Heritage Security Guards approached us, making enquiries about our purpose in Trafalgar Square, and started to explain the bye-laws governing Trafalgar Square.
They spoke with Kevin Annett who explained who he was, what he was doing.
One of our group was a well versed Freeman of The Land, and he explained to the Heritage Guard, what we were doing, why we were doing it and our position under Common Law. He explained that we were not subject to Statuary Law, were not consenting to Statuary Law and were seeking to proceed peaceful and with respect in our Ceremony.
The Heritage Guards were at all time polite and reasonable, as were our spokespersons.
Two more Heritage Guards arrived, and some of us spoke to them. We discovered that they were in fact Nepalse Ghurka’s and we had a lovely chat about Joanna Lumley, whom they suggest would make a fine Prime Minister.
While that conversation was happening, the discourse with the first two Heritage Guards had reached an impasse, and two PCSO’s arrived on the scene. Further discussions were held, and eventually a Police Officer arrived. Layers of Authority and Lines of Communication…
Again the Freeman position under common Law was explained in detail, and the young Constable, as he had now been identified, spoke to his supervisors on the radio.
Eventually we were informed that we could indeed proceed with our Ceremony and Vigil, though not within the confines of Trafalgar Square plaza. We were given ‘permission’ to hold our vigil close to the North Western Plinth. This gave us a good view of the Canadian Embassy, and also a certain amount of public exposure, consistent with our desire to inform others as to the facts of the Canadian Residential Schools system, and how that relates to other such Institutional abuses perpetrated in many, many countries around the Earth.
We formed a circle, and unfurled a banner made by the survivors of the Residential Schools in Canada, which had hand prints of the survivors all over it, representing them in spirit, noting their presence in our hearts and minds as we carried out the vigil. A banner was unfurled. Sage was burned, and all were smudged.
Kevin introduced the Ceremony, and drums and guitar music accompanied him.
Kevin spoke of his work, of the need for acknowledgement, accountability and reparation, the need for healing and for an ending to all such abusive practices perpetrated by States and Churches and others against First Nation Peoples and Children.
He invited others to speak in the tradition of the First Nations, offering the Feather he had brought with him, to signify his role as a spokesman for those Peoples…
My words to the Canadian Authorities
For my part, I spoke as I was holding the Feather in my right hand, and burning sage in my left hand, and I called on the spirit of life itself to be with me and turning towards the Canadian Embassy, I then called on all those within that building, all those who work for The Canadian State, for the Churches, Anglican and Catholic to recognise the crimes and abuses that have taken place, to accept responsibility for the past roles, the present cover-ups and to accept that these actions were all and are all acts of choice, and that from all choices consequences must and indeed do flow, and that those who so choose are responsible for their choices, and for those consequences.
I spoke for myself, for my own experience as an abused child held in Irish Boarding Schools and Residential Institutions, and offered my trauma, my pain, my learning’s, my very being to the resolution of all abuse behaviours, and called on Nature, the mother of all life, to help and assist those within the Canadian Embassy to recognise the Mother within their hearts, to open to the empathy that is innate to all life, to find the courage to blow the whistles, to unmask the wrongs done, to account for the wrongs done, to comfort the wounded survivors, to act so that no further abuses be perpetrated against anyone. And I called again that they recognise that these are choices, and that from their choices consequences flow.
I called on them to remember that many times before, great buildings and civilisations that were built upon abuse such as theirs have fallen, and have been overgrown by Mother Nature, and have been metabolised and returned as nutrients for more abundant life, and that this flow is inevitable, that their resistance is futile. Thus consequences flow from choices made.
Others spoke but I did not hear the fullness of their expressions as I was holding the banner. All of this was recorded by camera and will be made available very soon.
We continued the vigil, with music and drumming, singing and dancing and ended in a celebratory tone, noting that notwithstanding the abuse, trauma and woundings, the tears, fears and sadness, we stood as an affirmation of life, as life dancing and singing and growing and nurturing in spite of those who perpetrate horrors upon their brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, uncles and aunts, grand fathers and grand mothers, fathers and mothers.
This is my best recollection of these events, and is of course incomplete. Others will add their experiences in time to tell the whole story.
The weasel words of the Canadian Governments Spun Propaganda, Aboriginal Participation, Sustainable Legacies...... utter lies.
Do what you love, it's your gift to universe