Message of the Elders to the National Energy Board and the Public at Turtle Lodge – November 28, 2015
Following Traditional Ceremony at Turtle Lodge
Elder Nii Gaani Aki Inini (Dave Courchene): What you have just witnessed is the most important part of our presentation – our acknowledgement of Spirit and our acknowledgement of the land through ceremony – using our sacred gifts to communicate with Kizhay Manitou, the Higher Power. It is this connection that assures that we are provided guidance, proper direction, and support.
This is our reality.
The statement that I am about to present was inspired in this sacred lodge and in ceremony. We hope that you will accept it, in the spirit that it is being shared, with openness and kindness.
The tree and the water and the Earth are listening, and with the sound of the Drum they will carry our message all over the world.
Elder Nii Gaani Aki Inini (Dave Courchene): As the Original People of this land, we want to participate in this action of homecoming – coming home to our Mother the Earth. We want to participate, as equal partners, contributing in the discussions, helping to share well-defined actions from our perspectives, that we know can help ensure our survival.
We have a story to tell, a story that tells what sustained our ancestors and how they kept the land so beautiful, so pristine.
Our participation as the Original People is grounded in our ceremonies, in our protocols of offering gratitude to the Earth. We always begin by acknowledging the Spirit and the land.
Climate change is the most critical challenge that we face today. Climate change is a serious sign that Mother Earth is giving us, encouraging all of us to change.
Climate change is a clear indication we have lost our way. We have to find our way back to the beginning, to the land that gave birth to us, that gives us life.
It will require a positive change of heart and a change of attitude, that leads to well-defined actions that we must all take.
The willingness to change must be filled with the spirit to do the right things necessary in supporting Natural Law.
We must begin our approach with the Spirit. The Spirit defines our moral and ethical responsibility as human beings to take care of Mide-Aki – the kind-hearted Mother Earth, together.
We can never get away from the presence of Spirit. Nature is Spirit itself. It is Nature herself that grounds us with positive thought, dreams and visions, always creating a movement forward towards real peace.
Our children demand we find the courage to do the right things. It is our hope that our voice, which is a voice of the land, be given more opportunities to be heard.
There is a power that has been ignored, and that is the great power of the Earth herself. The Earth has a great power of beauty, love and kindness.
One day humanity will come to understand and will see we have to change if we are going to survive.
I see a day in the future, when we will treat all the elements of life with the respect found in Nature.
I see the water becoming clear again.
I see the forest growing again.
I see Mother Earth healed by our love.
I see the animals once again, in abundance, with the Buffalo in the lead.
I see the Eagles lead those that fly, rejoicing in the sky, in the air that has become clean and fresh, because we have fulfilled the vision of peace.
We have a vision in our homeland – that peace will ultimately be reached. And it begins when we can stand together in alliance with Nature, supporting her Natural Laws.
This is our vision.
Elder Mah Pe Ya Mini (Henry Skywater):
Spirit of Life Story
There is a light from the heavens that enters the mother’s womb. The mother nurtures that spirit. The spirit makes its journey on Earth. The spirit finally returns to the spirit world, to the house in the heavens, making its journey back to the Creator.
The Selfish Son/Greedy Son Story
There was a caring and loving mother who had a selfish son.
One day the selfish son was sick and his kidneys were failing, so he went to his Mother and asked his loving, caring mother if she could give him her kidneys. Being the loving, caring mother she was, she gave her selfish son her kidneys. Then he asked for her liver because his liver was failing. Being the loving, caring mother she was, she gave him her liver.
This went on until all she had left was her heart. The selfish son asked for his Mother’s heart which she gave to her son. Now she became just an empty shell. Her body as an empty shell collapsed because the selfish son took everything that his loving, caring Mother had with no regard for her life.
Is this what we are doing to our Mother Earth?
You Are Like Mother Earth
Your flesh and body represent Mother Earth.
Your bones represent the stones.
Your hair represents the Tree Nation.
Your fine hair on your body represents the medicines and grasses.
Your small veins represent the creeks.
Your big blood veins represent all rivers.
Your heart represents all the lakes.
Your liver represents the oceans.
Your four limbs represent four brother winds.
Your head represents the heavens.
Your blood flows the same ways as the waters.
We should look after Mother Earth as we look after ourselves.
Animiki Makwa (Lucas Courchene):
Boozhoo, Animiki Makwa Diznikaz, Kinew Dodem.
First of all I want to say that I am honoured that I have been given this opportunity to speak on behalf of the Youth during this really historic event that is happening.
It is our responsibility as Youth that we listen to the Elders.
The Elders are the knowledge and wisdom keepers. They have a significant role to ensure that the Nation abides by the Spiritual and Natural Laws. They have the responsibility to ensure that a strong connection and relationship is maintained with the Spirit. They are the ones that guide the Nation in a most spiritual way, therefore they ought to be given absolute respect by all the Nation.
Having said that, I am very proud and honoured and grateful to know the Elders that I do, along with all the other people who are rich with knowledge and our culture as First Nations people. This has given me the opportunity, and I am very proud to say that I have gone through my rites of passage. It wasn’t until then that I started understanding the land the way that I do now. It wasn’t until then, when I gave up my food and water, that I started to appreciate what our beloved Mother Earth has provided us for thousands of years.
Having said that, we as a People have to start giving back in return, starting by showing gratitude. Humanity has to better the relationship with the land, for the benefit of all People. Having said that, the hope for humanity has always been in the hands of the ones who are living peacefully, who are following the living laws of the land.
Nii Gaani Bineshi Quay (Sierra Courchene):
Aniin, Nii Gaani Bineshi Quay Diznikaz, Sagkeeng First Nation Doon ji ba.
My name is Sierra Courchene, I am 15 years old, and I am from Sagkeeng First Nation. I am here today to speak on behalf of the Youth and the Land.
As a Youth, the condition of the Land is very important to me, considering it will affect my life, how it will affect the people around me, and the future, for the future generations, for my children, for my grandchildren, for the future of the People, and for Mother Earth herself.
As a People it is our responsibility to take care of her. Like it was said earlier on today, whatever happens to Mother Earth happens to us. For we do not own Mother Earth. Nor does she belong to us, but we belong to her, because we are her children.
The land is our Mother, and she teaches the sacredness of the womb and represents us, for the Women, as lifegivers.
And for the Youth, we need guidance from the Elders to see what we can do to prevent and help recover the damage that has been done already, so that way we can heal Mother Earth, and her children, being all living things on the planet.
I’d like to say that I am very honoured to be here today to have this opportunity and privilege to speak on behalf. And I’d like to thank everyone for coming, and it’s an honour to meet all of you.
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