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“Look at the rainbow, my son, and tell me what you see”


My uncle – John Mckay, a respected Elder of our First Nation – once asked me:


            Look at the rainbow, my son, and tell me what you see….


Uncle John had been visiting at my house on the reserve that morning – and so many years ago now – when he posed that question. His health had been failing and I cherish, now, those times he came by and we would speak…well…he spoke and I listened. He would speak on many things. On the morning of his question, he had added:


…you do not have to answer right away…when you believe you are ready to answer, we will speak again…


Uncle John went to the Spirit World shortly after and I never had a chance to reply to his question. It became a question I would ponder over and over as the years went by. I would welcome the sight of a rainbow as I went on the trail and I would remember my Uncle and his question…and about my reply.


…we see the rainbow…the colors and how it presents itself to us…that it can be as bright and clear at times and be just as light and faint on others…that it can appear in whole or in part…that it can appear so close that you are sure you can just reach out and touch it…or it can appear distant and far away…that it can appear as twins…and that it can appear as if it is moving alongside you…


…the rainbow is like our Treaties…


…those times the rainbow is at it clearest are at those times when we are most focused on our Treaties

…those times that the rainbow is at its faintest are those times we have lost focus on who we are, what we have, what is happening and what we must do

…those times that the rainbow appears in its entirety are those times we are speaking in unity and on the comprehensive nature of our Treaties

…those times the rainbow appears only in part are the times when we are speaking on certain promises and benefits from Treaty

… those times when the rainbow appears so close that we can reach out and touch it are the times we have been able to take a step closer to Treaty Implementation

…those times when the rainbow appears distant and far away are the times we need to remind ourselves we must continue even as the goal to Treaty Implementation may seem impossible

…the appearance of twin rainbows remind us we are one of two nations who entered into Treaty

…that the rainbow appears to be moving alongside us reminds us our Treaties are always with us

…the colors of the rainbow are a mixture of the colors of the nations of Peoples of this earth…


…there is an area on one of the lakes in our territory where the expanse of water off the lake appears to separate two different parcels of land from one shore to the other…I witnessed a rainbow once, in its entirety, with one end of the rainbow appearing to touch one parcel of land on one shore and arching over to touch the other…as if to link the two…the rainbow reminds us our Treaties are a covenant entered into between two nations, and


…even as others would dismiss the rainbow as an illusion…even as others attempt to discourage us that Treaty, Treaties, Treaty Rights, etc and therefore our claims of nationhood are nothing more than an illusion…just like the rainbow…we do not have to accept this…we can see the rainbow, it is not an illusion…we do not have to touch it to know it is real…just like our Treaties…and just like our nationhood.


I do not know if this is the reply Uncle John was seeking…if it is or if it is not, Uncle John would likely have not said.


                                                                                                                   Ian Mckay, Chief 

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