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Beyond Protest: First Nations Community Seeks Alternatives to Tar Sands Destruction

If the destruction isn't stopped in Alberta, we will be locked into a never-ending series of pipeline and refinery fights across the continent.

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No, I thought, that cannot work. This beast must be smothered to death at the source.

At the beginning of the day, before the walk started, there was an argument about the right way to do the ceremony. What I know is that a bear showed itself to us at the start of our walk and that it carried with it the teachings of courage and protection. Later, an eagle flew over us and it represented the teaching of truth and unconditional love. While we walked, we made offerings of tobacco and water on four strategic points along Highway 63. 

Those offerings were to pray to each of the four directions and to call upon spirit, creator, mother earth and all of the sacred elements to both heal the land and to touch the hearts, minds and spirits of those responsible for her desecration. This was done so that the people destroying her could truly understand what they were doing... and wake up. 

After we finished that first walk, we did not get a huge global media sweep. As a matter of fact, many of us got sick with what would become known in subsequent healing walks as the tar sands healing walk flu. We also found that our biggest supporters during that first walk were the tar sands workers and Fort McKay community members honking their horns boosting our spirits with every honk. (It was a game of the children on the walk to get the drivers to honk.)

The tar sands healing walk was one of the most powerful ceremonies I have ever been to, comparable to our most sacred ceremony back home: the Sundance. Something happened when we all decided to take a break from the battle with big oil, national and provincial governments and the banks that finance them. When we decided to focus instead all of our intentions, all of our power and all of our love to heal our most sacred Mother and those that depend on her health through prayer, ceremony and the physical act of walking together, we lead with our hearts.

This year is the  fourth Annual Healing Walk , which in many Native circles is a very significant number: four directions, four nations of the earth. This walk marks, the end of a cycle and perhaps the beginning of a new era in the battle against big oil. 

The Walk will take place in Fort McMurray, Alberta from the 4th to the 6th of July, 2013. The former Chief of Smith’s Landing Treaty 8 First Nation and respected Dene Elder, Francios Paulette and Athabasca Chipewyan Dene Nation Chief, Allan Adam will be speaking at a pre-conference on July 5th in the Metis settlement of Anzac. They will be joined by author, activist and founder of 350.org, Bill Mckibben, author and 350.org board member Naomi Klein, former US Vice Presidential Candidate, author, and Native American activist Winona LaDuke, and First Nations Hip Hop artist and activist, Wabanakwut (Wab) Kinew. 

The walk and ceremony for Mother Earth and her Peoples will take place on July 6th. We invite you to join us in this historic occasion by either traveling to Alberta's tar sands in person and walking side by side with us, or by holding an event or ceremony in your home territory in solidarity. 

This story also appeared on Yes! Magazine.

Clayton Thomas-Muller is a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation also known as Pukatawagan in Northern Manitoba, Canada. Based out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Clayton is the National Campaigner with the Defenders of the Land-Idle No More campaign known as Sovereignty Summer and the co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands (ITS) Campaign of the Polaris Institute.Twitter: @CreeClayton

 
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