Photo by the author.
Every winter when all my work travels are done for the year, I fast for four days at home in northwestern Ontario surrounded by nindinawemaaganag. It’s a time for me to rest, reflect, rejuvenate and reconnect. In the past, I’ve dedicated these annual ceremonial fasts to the water, to MMIWG2S and the first one was in solidarity with Theresa Spence. After much reflection on the events of the past year — specifically Standing Rock and the solidarity shown across Turtle Island — I decided that I would fast for Indigenous love and resistance.
In prayer and contemplation during those four days in December, my mind wandered through the struggles that we face as Indigenous peoples. As I sifted through my thoughts, I wondered about the source of our strength — strength that is exemplified in our (continued) resistance. I kept reflecting upon and returning to one pool of thought: Indigenous love is powerful. Our ancestors are with us.
Ours is a love that extends beyond our own families and communities to include danawemaagaanidook. Our love, while reflecting on our history, concerns our present futures. Our love is presenced and embodied by those who stand on the frontlines, in courtrooms, on stages, in classrooms, community centres, living-rooms and on the land, in resistance to the onslaught of state and corporate violence. Colonial violence in its many forms is a threat to the balance of all life.
As our ancestors did, so too do we think about the well-being of the generations ahead and extend our love to those not yet born. We have a responsibility to future generations to leave for them a world in which environmental injustices wreak no havoc. We have a responsibility to future generations, and to each other too, to clear the path so that we may all navigate freely as we seek a greater understanding of ourselves within all of creation and of the balance that relationship so urgently requires.
The micro and macro complexities of all this can be overwhelming.
On a more personal level, I still hold memories of my own resistance to state violence and understand the effect it has on my own relationships. I was placed in state custody from the age of 3 until I was 16. Most of the homes that my siblings and I were placed in were loving and caring environments, but a lot of them were a complete nightmare. Today when I think of all the ways that I, as a little Anishinaabekwe, resisted that violence, I understand that I still need more time, more space and more love as my strength to tear down those walls that I built to protect myself. Those four days and nights of fasting, after having rendered my entire being completely open and vulnerable, reminded me to be more gentle and patient with myself.
These thoughts became prayers. So much more emerged through the dreams I had during my fast that will remain my own. But one recurring thought is meant for us all:
Our love is our resistance.