Letter: Reaching out with reconciliation tea

Proud Anishinabek take the high road after drumming confrontation

To the Expositor:

On December 29, 2020, a late model GM truck, with a snowmachine in the back, stopped and yelled unnecessary comments towards us while we gathered in our recently erected teepee. 

The man first drove by around 7 pm, claiming he almost hit a truck parked on the shoulder of the road, came back, stopped and yelled to get the truck off the road and some other obscenities. On his way back into town, he stopped again, and again yelled towards our teepee comments about ‘stop that drumming’ and ‘move your f’n truck.’ 

I came out of the teepee to try to see what the commotion was all about and who this person might be yelling at, surely it was not at us. 

We called the police to report the truck on the side of the road at 7:56 pm. A short while later, maybe 5-10 minutes, the truck pulls up again. We asked him if it was he who was yelling. He said “yes, I almost hit that truck (I called the cops). I stopped and checked to see if anyone was in there, but it was locked.” 

Before we could discuss things further the OPP arrived and the man left. 

Now, you may think he was yelling towards the truck. I thought that as well. But that would be the first time he stopped, when he checked to see if the truck was occupied, which it wasn’t, thank goodness. With the man stopping and yelling a second time, knowing no one was in the truck, who was he then yelling at? And obviously no one was drumming in the truck. 

We are proud of who we are, what our beliefs are and how we carry ourselves. We are Anishinabek and have erected a teepee to enjoy the outdoors even in the winter. Our teepee is a warm place illuminated by a fire that keeps us warm when inside. The fire helps with prayer and meditation, reminding us to be grateful for the things we have in this life and those things that keep us alive and healthy. 

This incident has left us feeling attacked, even hurt. I was not going to send this letter in to The Expositor, but the more I thought about it and processed the incident, the more I realized that I had to. 

We already live in a cynical world, a society and country built on lies and theft. We live within systems that were created and are still implemented to get rid of the “Indian Problem.”

For all that my ancestors fought for, for all the systemic trauma induced on our people, for all our children watching, witnessing and experiencing the sometimes overt, but mostly subtle racism, I must write this letter. 

In closing, we offer to the man in the truck, please stop by the teepee, have some tea and let’s talk about who we are, where we come from and get to know one another. 

In unity,

Sam Manitowabi