This is an Honour Song is a collection of narratives, poetry, and essays exploring the broad impact of the 1990 resistance at Kanehsatà:ke, otherwise known as the “Oka Crisis.” The book is written by leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, scholars, activists, and traditional people, and is sung as an Honour Song celebrating the commitment, sacrifices, and achievements of the Kanien’kehaka individuals and communities involved.
This is an Honour Song
There are many lessons that resulted from the events at Kanehsatà:ke and many of these lessons are reflected by the amazing authors in this book. Nia:wen to our “word warriors” for continuing the “wake up call.”
I am eternally grateful to Kiera and Leanne for their efforts in putting together this wonderful collection of articles, which record the sentiments and reactions of individuals about our actions during 1990. It will allow Kanehsatà:kehró:non to enjoy their messages for generations to come.
Leanne Simpson and Kiera Ladner’s new edited collection, This is an Honour Song, seeks to recognize the significance of the events at Kanehsatà:ke for Indigenous peoples, as well as for Canada. The collection does not focus on rehashing the details of events at the pines (a number of good books already exist in this regard), but explores the broader resonance and echoes of the Kanien’kehaka resistance.
Filled with soul grabbing poetry, academic and personal essays, beautiful artwork, a short story and a play, Simpson, Ladner, and their 33 co-writers — including well-known contributors such as Ellen Gabriel (who stood in the front lines at Oka), and respected writer and professor Patricia Montour — provide educational pieces about the events of the standoff. They also take a stance on paper by sharing new issues that have come since Oka, and how it influenced a new generation of activists who seek justice in similar battles in their own territories.
In remembering the Oka crisis in a deeper fashion than iconic images reprinted in mainstream journals, This Is an Honour Song goes beyond commemoration into offering insights into building a just tomorrow in the relations between indigenous peoples and Canada. It’s a future rooted in justice and equality, but only possible if there is a serious, revolutionary shift in the colonial relations that continue to define the mainstream of relations between indigenous nations and the structures of political and economic power in this country.