Migwite’tm 2023 Speech
June 11, 2023
It’s inspiring to see Listuguj come together to honor our people who were involved in the 1981 raid. This year as the previous years, the commemoration carries a meaningful name: “Today we honor the day we became stronger.” When the rights of our Mi’gmaw Nation were challenged, our people stood together to defend our fishing rights. They did this for all our people and our future generations.
In 1981, when our rights were challenged by the government, our people stood together once again to defend our fishing rights. As we stood for our rights, we also stood together for the rights of our future generations. Strength grew strong within our community on June 11, 1981. Not only did we receive support from our Canadian First Nations communities we also received support from our first nation communities within the US.
We truly became one Nation.
The 81 raid was another test of character for our nation, now we move forward and celebrate with strength, affirmation, and assertiveness for our people. We will never surrender our inherited rights as first nations for ourselves and our future generations. We will continue to fish by respecting and honoring Plamu as taught by our ancestors.
I would like to thank everyone who made this Migwite’tm commemoration possible: the organizers, the walkers and the sponsors.
Thank you for everyone’s’ help and support in making our community stronger.
In light of today, we gather to remember,
The scars that have lightened over time
Still, the stories remain vivid and true.
Despite the healing and fortuity of growth
We ruminate the actions we’ve had to subdue.
We try to fathom this sacred feeling
That flows through our blood,
Like the salmon that run the streams.
An unexplainable mystery that can’t be seen.
But we remember how,
On June 11, 1981,
The people were made aware.
By the juddering sounds of helicopters above
And wailing speed boats splashing through the Restigouche river; stunned
Our people while the Surete began to demand and shove.
They came in the night without any sight
They came with their weapon’s at Listuguj First Nation
They came for destruction with strict instruction…
To cut the fishing nets
Seize the salmon with many threats,
Violate the Treaty of Peace and Friendship.
They slipped through history
And attempted to rip
The essence of our being they thought could shatter,
But what they held really didn’t matter.
A human shield of residents were forming
Because they would not allow the intruders to yield our right
And stood in their way
Despite the government’s warning
Through the thick of it we remember,
The time it took to fix our nets,
Anticipating the moment to challenge
their laws once more and renounce
We would resist and do what was true…and fight!
To prove salvation is always the goal rather than unhinge
With all our might.
Today I ask that you remember,
Through the rivers and streams
The salmon symbolize our right to the land
A regalia of life and hope,
For First Nation people to cope.
We are the key,
To preserving nature’s beauty,
For all to enjoy and see,
A profound emotional experience
In a world that’s sustainable through coexistence
So today we honor,
The day we got stronger!
By: Carley Wysote