Mother Earth is calling
By Dave Courchene
PUBLISHED: Dec 4, 2015, 03:00 AM at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/mother-earth-is-calling-360540611.html
UPDATED: Dec 4, 2015, 05:26 AM
Recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the world: “Indigenous peoples have known for thousands of years how to care for our planet. The rest of us have a lot to learn and no time to waste.”
As the original peoples of our homeland, we welcome this opportunity that has been expressed by the prime minister. Our elders have encouraged us to come forward to express our leadership and to fulfil our destiny in our ancestral lands, a destiny in alliance with that of Mother Earth. Ours is a destiny that is inclusive and welcoming to all people, as we unite to take care of the land together.
We want to participate in this action of homecoming — coming home to Mother Earth. We have a story to tell — a story that tells what sustained our ancestors and how we were able to keep this land so beautiful, so pristine.
As the original peoples, we have evolved with a knowledge shaped over thousands of years by our close connection to this land. In that closeness we have been able to hear the voice of the land itself. This voice has always guided us to be true stewards of the land and to be a peaceful people.
Mother Earth is alive. She has a living spirit, and she is sacred. There is a power that has been ignored, and that is the great power of the Earth herself — her beauty, love, kindness and teachings and her ability to correct her children when we have strayed from her natural laws.
What served us in the past can serve us again — our connection to our Mother the Earth.
It is her love, kindness and teachings that motivate us to aspire to the highest in our humanity, to the values that can become the foundation of how we are to behave in our homeland.
Climate change is the most critical challenge we face today. Climate change is a serious sign Mother Earth is giving us to show we are out of balance, and a sign encouraging us to change. Climate change inspires us to find our way back to the beginning to the land that gives us life.
Our paramount concern should be the children. The education of all children must take precedence in our efforts to effect any change for the future. We are willing to share our ways of learning, opening our lodges and environments to create an education curriculum that includes our ancestral knowledge.
This generation of youth will require a great deal of support to ensure they will have a future. They face great challenges, more so than previous generations, simply because of so much uncertainty and all that has been done to nature.
What is required are land-based experiences filled with a teaching of the natural laws and values we should be abiding by. These can act as a foundation to ensure our children become balanced, survive and flourish.
Our grandmothers have always said it is our values that determine our survival. They say if we can teach our children to love, respect and be honest, they will always survive, and that the best way to live is in kindness. The education should create opportunities for young people to feel the love and learn the values found in our greatest teacher — the land itself.
It is important we share the rites of passage for young people — the rites that mark the transition of youth into adulthood. This is a critical time for all young people. All initiation is grounded with the original woman, Mother Earth, who, like a mother, initiates all of us.
One of the first priorities is for the children to be taken to the land. For a young boy, seeking a vision while fasting on the land is what will give him meaning and purpose in his life. In her rite of passage, a girl will be brought to the sacred lodges on the land with the grandmothers and mothers to learn the ways and teachings of how to honour and carry herself as a woman.
So many of us are tired of being against something. Why not be for something that is positive, that fills us with hope we can work toward. Let the children be the reason we change and engage in positive action.
Globally, at the Paris summit, the symbol of the Eiffel Tower was used to represent a tree, under which the nations of the world united under the banner, “One heart, one tree.” This reflects our vision. We are all brothers and sisters, and we all have something to contribute to creating a better world that is peaceful and connected to us being true stewards of the land together.
We find ourselves positioned in a significant place here in Manitoba, here at The Forks, a crossroads in the geographic centre of the continent at a time of climate change, a time of self-examination and a time of choice. With Premier Selinger outlining his government’s plan for the climate on Thursday and the talks in Paris, it’s important we think about our future.
Let us make our choice — a choice to come home together.
Dave Courchene (Nii Gaani Aki Inini — Leading Earth Man) is an elder of the Anishinaabe Nation, Eagle Clan.