Biimadasahwin: Reclaiming land, building homes, building power

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, Darlene Necan talks about Biimadasahwin, a project through which she and other grassroots, off-reserve Ojibway people in northwestern Ontario are reclaiming land, building homes, and building power.

Necan is the elected leader of a grassroots organization called Northern Starlight Citizens of Saugeen, the members of which are off-reserve members of the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen no. 258 in northwestern Ontario, north of Thunder Bay. As with so many indigenous peoples across the continent, Necan's people have endured generations of attacks on their culture and traditions by the Canadian state, and they face extreme poverty and homelessness even as corporations profit from destroying their land and the basis for their traditional ways of living. As people who fall into the category "off-reserve" in the Canadian state's complex, colonial, divide-and-conquer schemes, their options are even fewer. To struggle against this ongoing colonization, Necan, her group, and allies have been begun a grassroots homebuilding movement they are calling Biimadasahwin, an Ojibway word meaning "life." It is a way to directly address the poverty and homelessness that they face, and to create a basis for a resurgence of their traditions. They are building homes on the land -- near their traplines, off-reserve -- so it is also an expression of their treaty rights to the land. Necan has said elsewhere, "They're still calling it Crown Land. We're taking it back because that's our land, that's our Anishnaabe land. That's where we live from." She talks with me about the struggle that she and other off-reserve people from her nation have engaged in, and about the Biimadasahwin campaign.

To learn more about the Biimadasahwin project and to donate – especially important before the expiry of their current appeal for donations at the end of August 1 – click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada through in-depth interviews that concentrate not on current events or the crisis of the moment, but on giving people involved in a broad range of social change work a chance to take a longer view as they talk about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. To learn more about the show in general, click here.

You can also learn more about ways to listen or go to the show's page on To learn more about suggesting grassroots groups and organizations for future shows, click here. For details on the show's theme music, click here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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