Weytk, Greetings to our beautiful World communities, families and fellow Indigenous Peoples.
First of all I would like to take this time to introduce myself, My name is Kanahus Freedom Manuel, my traditional names are Kanahus Pellkey – Ecotaya Guari (Red Woman – Turtle Mountain Woman), I am from the Secwepemc and Ktunaxa Nations of the south-central interior of so-called British Columbia. My parents are Arthur Manuel and Beverly (Dick) Manuel, my paternal grandfather is Freedom Fighter Grand Chief George Manuel and grandmother Marceline Paul from the Ktunaxa Nation. My maternal grandmother is Rita Dick from Neskonlith, Secwepemc Nation and Pat Roy, a French Canadian. I reside in the Secwepemc community of Neskonlith, unceded, unsurrendered Secwepemc Nation.
I am a Mother of four beautiful children and Freedom Babies, that I raise as much in our traditional ways as I can, decolonized and Free from the burdens of Canadian society. When I heard about the Unist’ot’en Camp my eyes and spirit filled with tears of joy and happiness, of hope and courage. I knew I must go, make the big journey with my family and children to bring them to this historical stand to defend our Indigenous Territories, not just for the Peoples of the Wet’suwet’in Nation and Unist’ot’en Territory, this is for us all. All of our Water is connected, all of our air in connected, our lands all connected, we cannot separate one from the other, just like the geographic distance that separates us Secwepemc and Ktunaxa from the Unist’tot’en cannot stop us for joining in our struggle to protect our Homelands.
My family and children we embrace our visits to Unist’ot’en camp. I have learned so much from the Unist’ot’en Camp, especially enforcing our authority to our Homelands through the free and prior informed consent protocol, that everyone must go through in order to enter into the Unist’ot’en Territory and Homelands.
When I first arrived at the Unist’ot’en Camp, my family got out of our vehicle and walked to meet the Unist’ot’en on the bridge that crosses the Morice River, we were asked to introduce ourselves and who we were, what our intentions are, and what skills we have to offer if allowed to enter. I carry this with me everywhere.
We have attended the Unist’ot’en Action Camp, my sons have went hunting there with members of the camp, my children spent weeks picking huckleberries there, we take dips in the ice cold Morice River to cleanse our spirits and give thanks for all those that sacrifice so much on the frontlines, those of our ancestors and Peoples that struggle on a daily basis and lifetime for all of us.
On our last family visit at the Unist’ot’en Camp my children had so much fun playing, we ate fresh moose liver and a massive feast with everyone at camp. My children love their Auntie Freda, who set up the movie projector to let them watch Princess Mononoke, they are so happy and loved by everyone at Camp. We always sleep so good there and are sad when we have to leave.
I will continue to return with my family and children and encourage other families to take their children there to learn the importance of living on the land and protecting our Lands and Water.
Kukstsemc, to all those at Unist’ot’en Camp.
words and photo: Kanahus Freedom Manuel