Gala Evening of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, 19th Annual Convention
Opening Remarks by Nii Gaani Aki Inini – Leading Earth Man (Dave Courchene)
Manitoba Room, Keystone Centre Brandon
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Dave offered the following remarks before mayors, town councils, MLAs and other invited guests from the province of Manitoba.
I want to begin by offering words of gratitude to the Great Spirit – and to our kind-hearted Mother Earth – for her abundance and generosity. It is in this spirit that I acknowledge the food we are about to receive, and all that we receive from the land.
Everything we need to survive comes from the land – the food, the water, the medicines, the clothing and shelter, the teachings and the love that comes from being connected to nature.
I ask in humbleness the Spirit to come within our presence, here this evening, to inspire each of us to live from the spirit of the heart.
In today’s world we face so many challenges, and it will require a strong leadership to initiate the changes we need to make as humanity, to help create a more peaceful and sustainable world.
Many have raised the concern of climate change. We cannot move forward in doom and gloom. We need to plant a seed of hope.
The earth has always operated from the principle of balance and harmony. Nature has natural laws that support this principle. These laws are not negotiable and they require our compliance. To do otherwise will only harm ourselves and harm the earth. Supporting these natural laws is what will bring about a truly sustainable world.
We are challenged more than ever to find initiatives that support a real stewardship of the land. Let us begin with our children, offering them the opportunity to feel the land, and to learn the laws of the land – the laws of nature.
These laws are key to understanding laws of conduct and a worldview that will allow the youth of today to live in a relationship of balance and reciprocity with nature, giving and receiving in abundance from the land.
Recently we had a gathering at the sacred Turtle Lodge where we brought together some of our most respected Indigenous knowledge keepers from across the nation along with top North American scientists led by David Suzuki. As Indigenous knowledge keepers we wanted to build an alliance with the scientists who are considered leaders in western thought, to address issues such as climate change. Many scientists have come to realize that they must go beyond seeing the world in parts in order to see the whole. As knowledge keepers we shared our holistic understanding of how we see the world, rooted in a reciprocal relationship with the land.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau stated at the Paris climate talks (2015): “Indigenous peoples have known from thousands of years how to care for our planet. The rest of us have a lot to learn and no time to waste.”
Climate change is really about human change – a change of the heart. We can create a new economy and new opportunities for the nation based on stewardship. We have an opportunity to set a completely new narrative based on ancient values and natural laws. We come forward as elders and knowledge keepers to continue to give and share our knowledge to provide a direction that can help us move forward to a much more sustainable earth.
How we treat the Earth will translate into how we treat each other as human beings, with respect.
The wisdom keepers of our nations all agree that in order to achieve peace, we must return to the beginning, which for us means returning to the land where all life has been generated from.
Paramount in these defined actions is the education of youth. This can happen through land-based experiences supported by our knowledge keepers, in collaboration with the scientific community.
Rites of passage for young people are very important. It is through rites of passage that our youth can connect with the land and receive her messages. The rite of passage for the young boys is to make a journey to the land through fasting to seek a vision – a vision that will help define a purpose and meaning to his life. If we support the rites of passage for the young girls and boys, this is our best opportunity to build a leadership that can bring peace to our world.
In our common concern for the future, it is incumbent upon all of us to come together to collaborate on initiatives to restore our relationship with the Earth.
Let us together find a spirit of cooperation, that is based on trust and respect, and help create and support initiatives that can bring hope for the future.
Our children deserve nothing less.
Nii Gaani Aki Inini – Leading Earth Man (Dave Courchene) is founder of and a knowledge keeper at the Turtle Lodge.