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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Peace, brother!

BY Sonny Orr Nov 19, 2020

November 11 is a good day to remember, lest we forget, the lives that were sacrificed for our freedom. We graciously salute you, as we have the greatest respect for you who have fallen or lived to see the results of your legacy. Yes, the right to choose leaders, the right to love the one you love, the right to remain silent or to speak out, the right to congregate with your beliefs, the rights for women of all ages, the rights for children and our personal rights to live the way we desire is your legacy.

Yes, it’s gratitude untold to our armed forces who keep fighting for all those rights while we sleep in peace in our own lands, proud and free. This cannot be forgotten that the horrors of wars fought to keep this way of life alive. We owe them his great right to fight among ourselves using forces that are not violent and are democratic. 

Today, lives are still being put at great risk to maintain this way of life we so value. But remember that this way of life is sought after by those who live under tyranny, unjust laws, violent practices against women, and ravaged economies. Some wars are not fought for freedom but rather for keeping the status quo and enhancing the wealth of a few instead of the masses who toil and sacrifice their lives.

Currently there are four major wars with more than a half million lives lost and a major war on drugs with the number of deaths nearing a quarter million just in the past year alone. Then there are the 13 conflicts or small wars that have claimed an average of 10,000 souls each. Then there are the 19 minor conflicts where combat losses are 1,000 lives and finally the 14 (only) skirmishes that are usually internal conflicts over control and power, with the loss of 100 lives each. We forget that maintaining peace does need hardware and more lives and we salute today’s soldiers for their sacrifice in keeping peace and democracy alive.  

After saying all that, I feel like Winston Churchill or someone like that, all patriotic and stuff, but it’s true. Canadians owe gratitude to being able to fight our own conflicts internally without the use of force, by using history and laws, using representation and communication, using education and commerce, health and life skills and mostly keeping a tradition that represents the first peace and self-governance – the right of democracy. It’s really an Iroquoian concept, as the first settlers were still tethered to kings and queens and greedy religious organizations that wanted nothing more than the whole shebang.  

The concept of not having to kowtow to a far-off royal and having equal say among each other came from First Nations peoples, who had already mastered the art of war and were experts in the art of peace and governance too. We mustn’t forget that piece of history and people today should appreciate that this concept is what our soldiers fought for a long time ago. Today’s internal wars are not so bloody, but they will be resolved peacefully. We have learned from our ancestors that peace is much easier to deal with when all sides set aside their needs to resolve things violently and give peace a chance.

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.