Halifax Banner Train – one more sleep!
Sitting in Toronto’s City Centre Airport this morning, I finally realized that this momentous campaign is actually underway. With Julie halfway home from Vancouver, billets being organized by volunteers in Ottawa, and towns and cities west of Ontario already meeting in solidarity with First Nations elders on their way to Ottawa, I think the Roll With the Declaration Campaign is definitely in full swing! Out of the office, with planning in other capable hands, I can finally take the time to reflect on what KAIROS, our network, and the many endorsing organizations are really trying to achieve! (There is also something to be said for sunshine, an ocean breeze, and great coffee to really help one think!)
Although I was not at KAIROS 10 years ago when the Blanket Train went to Ottawa, I can feel the incredible spirit which was generated then. I am still in some ways unsure of what I envision when I think of a future in which the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples is fully implemented in Canada. I can list so many concrete examples of what it should be – clean drinking water in Canada’s Northern communities; equitable educational opportunities for Indigenous children; an open discussion of the lasting effects of the residential school system. However, as I look across at the still tree-covered hills of Dartmouth, and George’s Island in the Middle of the harbour, I know that the Declaration means so much more than these concrete things.
This land, from now on, must be treated differently. Reading all of the banners we have received, I have concrete examples that this land has more than one name, more than one history. As I take the time now to think about the train ride ahead of me tomorrow, I will keep in mind that full implementation of the UNDRIP will incorporate these voices and histories into Human rights protection for ALL Canadians, created in collaboration with this countries Indigenous peoples.
I am so thrilled to meet Rev. Margaret Sagar tomorrow morning and everyone who is sending off the Westbound train! I also have the honour of riding the train with Billy Lewis, an Aboriginal Elder and community leader in Nova Scotia. After a day of visiting in Halifax, I am ready to get up tomorrow to meet Margaret, Billy, and the many others who I know we will meet between here and Ottawa to help carry our message of solidarity to Ottawa.