Awalaskenis II

In 2014, Guujaaw brought down a Haida copper to join Beau Dick in Vancouver and Ottawa, two stops on Beau’s Awalaskenis II: Journey of Truth and Unity to the capital (see media coverage, Youtube, Belkin Gallery).  The goal was to visit first nations communities along their cross-Canada route so they could witness and add strength and significance to the historic copper.  In Ottawa at a ceremony conducted on parliament hill, Beau Dick, Guujaaw and the members of the cross-country journey broke the copper to mark the government’s shame in it’s past and present treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada.


( at Parliament Hill we opened with prayers for the people and families suffering in the Middle East. We followed with these words….)

On this day we invoke our culture

bringing forward a copper ritual,

seldom seen outside of our homelands

We bring this copper from the great Pacific where it was washed

and touched by people of the ocean

In a journey across this land

touched by elders and children,

washed again in the rivers and lakes,

blessed in Sundance and sacred ceremony

carried by powwow dancers

and touched again by the people of the great plains

It has been cleansed with prayer, smoke and water

and brought here to be broken

We name the copper “Taaw”

in respect for the great life giving oolichan oil

in stark contrast to the poison from the Tar Sands

This is our wealth of place, of culture

and everything that is dear to us

including life itself

and all that the great nature provides

With this in mind we break this copper

at the doorstep of the government of Canada

with a great sense of celebration

  We break this copper

not as a slight to Canada

or an insult to Canadians

who have shown us

nothing but support and encouragement

In breaking this copper we confront the tyranny and oppression

of a government who has forsaken human rights

and turned its back on nature

in the interests of the almighty dollar

we do this in accordance with our own laws

that bid us to look after the earth

Though they have killed us    …we live

They put us down    …. yet we stand

They deny     …but there is truth