Here is my letter, written and sent today to Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, to highlight National Indigenous History Month this June, in support of the ‘Land Back’ Movement, which advocates Indigenous People’s inherent right to the self-governance of their own land.
To the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
My name is Mylène Dinh-Robic. I am a mother, actress, writer and environmental advocate originally from Montreal, now residing in Shefford, Qc with my two children, Edward (5 years old) and Élénore (6 years old). For some time now, the three of us have been happily preparing for this month’s celebration of National Indigenous History here in Canada. I am not of Iroquois descent nor do I have indigenous family ancestry, however their plight, and that of all indigenous people in Canada, for self-governance and the right to their own land has nonetheless become particularly important to our family. My personal journey and education regarding our country’s history and its original peoples is particular.
My mother, My Van Dinh, is Vietnamese and arrived here in 1975, as many Vietnamese did at that time, fleeing persecution at the end of the Vietnam War, seeking to rebuild their lives and to heal from the loss of their native land. My father, Georges Robic, is Québécois and of French ancestry and met my mother in Montreal when she worked at his Law Firm, ROBIC, back in 1976. My heritage is thus deeply infused with the plurality and beauty of two of our country’s resounding constitutional building blocks: immigration and one of our two linguistic solitudes, the French. I am thus naturally of a mind very prone to celebrate Canada’s multicultural heritage and founding forefathers. My mother’s finding a haven here after she was forced to leave hers and my father’s strong Québécois heritage have shaped my understanding of equality, and what it means to be equally represented in parliament.
There is a third solitude in this country. Aboriginal People in Canada presently have no voice or self-appointed representative in parliament. My mother came from a country half-way around a world and has a voice, a home, and political affirmation here. My father’s ancestors helped shape the nature and power of our country’s federal government, it’s inclusion of French and English systems of governance and its inspiringly inclusive support of immigrants who wish to rebuild their lives here. Plurality and Inclusion have evolved as steadfast strengths throughout the history of our Canadian political system. And yet the First Nations, Inuit and Métis, who inhabited these lands long before our ancestors arrived here, have consistently been denied a true self-governing voice in this country’s legal, political and administrative decision making process for far too long.
In my humble opinion, it is now time for a more inclusive, constructive dialogue with all aboriginal people in Canada and such a dialogue must start with your support for the Land Back Movement. In other words, it is time for action. We must act now, together, to support indigenous tribes’ inherent right to self-governance of their own lands. Publicized apologies for historic wrongs consistently committed against them won’t bring back all that has been lost, all that has been taken. We must now collectively recognize how important it is to honour their inherent right to have and to govern their own territories.
It is my profound belief that our country’s indigenous tribes were the first stewards and protectors of our forests, fields and rivers, of our mountains and lakes, and of all the incredible biodiversity that thrives here. In these precarious and troubling times, as droughts last far too long and plastic fills our oceans, as our industrialized world economy stubbornly thrives on, for the most part fully divorced from Nature’s sustainable lessons, its disastrous impacts felt everywhere on this beautiful planet, it is up to us Justin, it is up to you, to give Indigenous People, whose very culture and spirit are driven to protect Nature, their voice, their power and their lands back, here, in Canada. Let them speak, let them be heard, and most importantly, protect them, just as they and their ancestors have known, much better than we have thus far, how to protect our lands and Nature for hundreds or years.
Thank you very much for your attention and precious time Prime Minister.
Many blessings and love from the Eastern Townships of Quebec, from my family to yours.
Thank you to the David Suzuki Foundation for their tireless and inspiring work as environmental advocates and for providing such a vital map of what the Land Back movement is all about and for encouraging all of us to get involved in the national discussion around the rights of First Nations, Inuit & Métis to land and self-governance. Thank you also, for inspiring me to write to our leaders, to make my voice heard.
To find out more about the Land Back movement visit: https://davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/what-is-land-back/