Chief Na’Moks Reports to the United Nations
Witsuwit’en Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale), at left, stands with HapWilxsa (Kirby Muldoe) from the Gitxsan First Nation, centre, and Skil Hiilans (Allan Davidson) of the Haida Nation in Geneva in 2017. Photo courtesy John Ridsdale.
By Amanda Follett Hosgood
John Ridsdale, Witsuwit’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks, never had a strong desire to leave Canada. But in 2016, he got his passport and travelled to New York City. He had a message for the world. Chief Na’Moks spoke at United Nations headquarters about Canada’s human rights record and its pledge to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Then he promised to return a year later, to the United Nations Office in Geneva, to offer an update before the Committee to Eradicate Radial Discrimination. Chief Na’Moks stopped by the Culturally Modified office to share his thoughts about the experience, about reconciliation and about how we can all get along. He spoke about “Mr. Selfie,” the rights that Canadians enjoy and how far we have yet to go: “We have a quality of life that people throughout the world do not enjoy,” he says. “And we have a right to stand together to protect it.” He also spoke about growing up in northern British Columbia and the images he keeps close at hand when speaking to the world about his home.
Hear the interview below.
Photos 1-5: At United Nations headquarters, New York City, 2016. Photos courtesy John Ridsdale.
Photo 6: Chief Na’Moks’ (John Ridsdale’s) late mother (right) and her cousin Christine Bucholz (nee Holland) in a photo he carries with him on his phone. Photo courtesy John Ridsdale.
Amanda Follett Hosgood is the editor of Culturally Modified. Born and raised in Ontario, she graduated from Carleton University’s journalism program in 1997 and headed west to Canmore, Alberta where she worked as reporter and assistant editor at the Canmore Leader and Banff Crag & Canyon. In 2006, she moved farther north and west to Smithers, B.C., completing a Master of Arts in Communication Specializing in International and Intercultural Communication through Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C in 2009. She lives with her family in the perpetually unfinished straw-bale home they built just outside Smithers.