The Exploited as a reference in a Mohawk rez called Kahnawake

"You are not allowed to take any photos in here" said the man behind the counter and gave me a red packet of cigarettes. The unknown brand was called Lucky Seven and the package was decorated with three Jackpot sevens, the ones that come up when you are lucky on the slot machine. I mumbled something about trying to quit and not owning a lighter, he handed me one and I lit my first cigarette. As I stood there in the tobacco shop I realised my visit to Kahnawake would consist of much coaxing and even more cigarettes. I was nervous but full of anticipation as I stubbed out my first Lucky Seven, lit another one and said "Couldn't I take some photos of you outside the shop?"

Outside Montreal, on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec lies the Mohawk reserve Kahnawake. The reserve has close to 9,000 inhabitants. In Kahnawake there is a nursery, a school, a fire station, a local council, galleries and two longhouses for ceremonies. They also have their own police force, called Peacekeepers. During my two days in Kahnawake I got to know DJs from the K 103 radio station, chiefs at the local council, Peacekeepers and people I met in the street and in cafes. I don't know if it was because of my Lucky Sevens, but I felt fortune to connect with so many people during a very short stay.

What was central to my visit was the ever-present question of the notion of identity. I was curious about how we see ourselves, what we identify with and how this is essential for both the individual and the community. It is first when we establish who we are and feel secure about it we have the possibility and opportunity to share with others and expand. I met a lot of people included a 21-year old punker that loved The Exploited (a Edinburgh based punk band from the 80s), so do I. Connections come in the most implausible shapes, regardless of nationality, religion, age and gender. Last year Idle No More in Canada received enormous global attention for its protests. Idle No More works at grass root level against pollution and economic& social inequality.

Scotland, my current home, is preparing itself for independence and next year the referendum will take place. In many places minorities & nations are rising, and demand not only independence, but recognition. It seems as if it is the very acknowledgement that brings redemption and that full acceptance is what we all need to grow - as cultures, nations and individuals.

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