Guujaaw to shame government

A former Haida Nation president will participate in a ritual meant to express shame and disappointment with the government.

Former Haida Nation president and renowned Haida carver Guujaaw will be making his way to Ottawa to participate in a ritual meant to express shame and disappointment with the federal government.

Along with Namgis carver Beau Dick, Guujaaw will smash a copper shield on Parliament Hill as part of a ceremonial practice called copper cutting. The event is scheduled to take place on July 27, and this particular copper cutting is even more pertinent as it will be Haida copper that is used in the ceremony.

While it is believed this is the first time such a ceremomy has been performed in Ottawa, Guujaaw said the significance of smashing the shield cannot be understated.

“More than a mystical geometric form and challenging piece of metallurgy, the copper’s function is central to a complex economic system whereby, in the measure of wealth, a song or a name can be  more valuable than material possessions,” he said in a statement about the importance of the copper shield to First Nations, noting smashing the copper ranther than gifting it sends a message of shame.

“The value of the copper measured in accordance with that given rather then accumulated. This is the weight of the copper.”

Aside from the decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, Guujaaw said cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans spurred on the planned demonstration.

Before the ceremony in Ottawa, Guujaaw will join Dick at the UBC First Nations House of Learning on July 2 for a ceremony that launches the duo’s journey to Ottawa from B.C.