By: DOUG FOX Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada
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This Doug Fox painting is the catalyst for Robert Girvan’s book “Who Speaks for the River”.
A Crown attorney, Robert courageously left to pursue Justice through the Pen.
Robert, and his wife Christine Girvan, went to great sacrifice to have this story told as it is also our story as Canadians.
Water is our most valuable natural resource!
One man took on the Government of Canada to stop the destruction of our nation’s water and the life it supports.
The painting expresses the story of native warrior “Milton Born With a Tooth”‘s stopping the damming of the Old Man river to save all that gain their food from the river’s life giving waters. Milton drove an bulldozer, something that he had never done before in his life and diverted the Old Man river’s waters away from the dam and for this he was imprisoned for 4 years by our Canadian government on trumped up grounds of declaring the bulldozer as a dangerous weapon.
Milton, out of prison, fought the Canadian government in Court and won 64 Million$’s for his people.
For more info on Milton’s struggles: http://intercontinentalcry.org/milton-born-with-a-tooth-on-campaign-across-canada/
Artist, Doug Fox, an extraordinary man that connects to the broader aspects of human life, painted Milton’s story true to what “Milton Born With a Tooth” said were his reasons for his actions in saving the Old Man River from being dammed, in an interview Doug Fox conducted for and was broadcast by University of Toronto radio.
For the full meaning of your loss of rights to Canadian water, read Robert Girvan’s book, “Who Speaks for the River” published by Fifth House publishing, a division of Fitzhenry and Whiteside publishers.
Doug Fox’s paintings are in the Government of Canada and Lady Simpson’s Daughter’s and other’s collections.
How St Judes Project Got Involved With Aboriginals:
At 18, St Judes Project founder, Jim Vella’s conscience and questioning mind was stirred by seeing natives sleeping on the freezing winter streets in terrible physical health and intoxicated. His heart spoke, “No one would chose to be freezing to death sleeping outside! Something terrible must of happen to them to drive them to be there.” He took a night school Canadian history course and was moved to write a paper on what brought these natives to live in the street. After school one night, in his friend, John Stoddard’s, kitchen talking about the history paper, an old guy with a ruby red nose and a huge junk jewelry disc around his neck, like the black rappers wear today, peered his head in and left. John said to Jim, let me get one of my tenants to see what he knows. He brought in the old guy with junk medallion on and introduced him as Milton Acorn and told him what Jim was looking to write about. Then John asked Jim, Do you know what this medallion is? Jim said, “No”. John said, “It’s the Governor General’s Award for Literature for Milton’s book, “In My Blood”. He is a native also and knows their history.” I felt ashamed that I judged this man by my ignorance, that he was, “another alcoholic border with a chunk of junk around his neck”. Milton told me about the terror, torture and sexual abuse that native children suffered church run government residential schools that destroyed their healthy mental and spiritual capacities to function normal and to blank out the horrible memories they used substances such as alcohol or illegal drugs to self medicate.
During part of Milton’s explanation, another tenant entered and John asked if he would contribute to the history paper Jim was writing. He said, “No”, but as he heard Milton and I speaking he contributed his knowledge and personal experiences. It turned out he was a leader of native warriors in Ontario.
Another tenant entered and spoke of the then current continuation of theft of native rights and lands and that the warriors were prepared to burn down the forests if the government did not stop the clear cutting and destruction of the natives source of food and livelihood. John explained to Jim that had fought along side with Che Gueverra and Fidel Castro in Cuba and elsewhere. The content of what they shared opened Jim to, “reality is not what we have been taught, it’s also what we have not been taught.”
Jim got an A on his history paper, the night school teacher was the head of the Canadian Historical Association and the facts from Milton Acorn, the warrior chief, and Joe the revolutionary gave him new insights into Aboriginal history.
As the years went on, Jim visited reserves to see living conditions and collect Native art works from wood and stone sculptures to paintings, all of which were stolen from his office downtown. Jim had to start again and this brought him in contact with Doug Fox and the Native Artist Co-op gallery that Doug founded. Jim began to help and know those artists. Many stayed in Jim’s home in their times of monetary scarcity. Jim learned of their terrible traumas as children in orphanages and foster homes including the allegation that a Police Chief and Mayor would come in and have sex with them and other children. Having a counselling background and by then including Human Sexuality, Jim tried his best to help them heal and function in earning income through painting sales and managing their incomes….and when they needed…he bought their works. Having seen life on reserves in Canada and US first hand and understanding the needs of city street bound natives, Jim did fund raisers through St Judes Project for Native Men’s Residence and Anishanabi Health Centre. The native artists that Jim met 25 years ago, and he, are still in touch as friends, some have moved on to having children (that are now adults) but their tormented souls have prevented them from being able to maintain permanent marriages. Their children are their love and they try their best to be with and support them. These experiences left Jim with the profound knowledge that with the right caring supports, damaged beings can eventually right their lives sufficient to contribute to society in their own way…..as artists.
Please support aboriginal artists and the natives rights to their land heritage so their self dependancy and dignity is restored.
Jim Vella, President, St Judes Project For Homeless Youth