Nii Gaani Aki Inini – Leading Earth Man (Dr. Dave Courchene) Presentation
Ceremony of Relationship
At Pinawa Nuclear Site
Friday, September 13, 2019As the Original People of our homeland, this ceremony that we did here today is to acknowledge our relationship with the land. We honour her forces of ensuring balance. It is also in the spirit of partnership and working together to ensure we find proper solutions to the waste that technology can create. In our world as the Indigenous, we have always acknowledged the realm of spirit. It is through this understanding that we know and feel the Earth is a living entity. Many have yet to learn the simple living truth – that the Earth has a spirit within her being. Our People have also understood that the Earth has natural laws that ensure balance and harmony. These natural laws are self-enforcing. Let me give you one example of the natural laws:
What you do to the land you do to yourself.This law has become more evident than ever with the issue of climate change. No matter what we do in life, natural law will always apply. Whatever we create, whatever we build, is not exempt from natural law. It is the power of Mother Earth that holds the final say in the outcome of whatever each of us does. The Knowledge Keepers of our Nations always reminded us to be careful that you do not disrupt nature’s laws. We must do everything with love and kindness for all of life. That is the law. To do anything that is in opposition of love, respect, or kindness will bring severe consequences. What we witness today is a lot of technology created by humankind that does not fall in alignment with Nature’s law. When there is a disruption of any natural law, ceremony has to be done to make appeasement for the mistake made. Today we are on a site that brings us together for a reason. We share in the same concern to protect life and to ensure that the nuclear waste is dealt with safely and properly. From our perspective, we must first acknowledge, together, that we have a sacred relationship with the land. Within that relationship come duties and responsibilities. Today we bring out a big part of that responsibility by going into a ceremony of gratitude to the earth. It was always recognized that the Earth has power over humankind with her natural laws. As human beings, we are encouraged to align with the laws of Nature. It is in this alignment that we ensure a sustainable relationship with the Earth. The sacred fire we lit this morning is to share the true power of the element of fire, an element we have always depended on and had faith in. Fire has always acted as a doorway to the spiritual realm. As the Knowledge Keepers of our Nations, we never overstep the Spirit, as we live life’s challenges. It is to the Spirit that we turn to today, to seek help and guidance as to how we can safeguard ourselves from the dangers of nuclear waste. In close proximity to this site is our sacred site, which we know as Manitou Api, that holds the knowledge and spirit of our ancestors of the past, whom we have invoked through this ceremony. Today we are here to put a ceremonial context to addressing our relationship, and our relationship with Nature, and most importantly, to go to the direct source of the Earth herself to seek direction in our current challenge of nuclear waste on this site. We approach the spirit of the Earth, admitting we have limited knowledge of this nuclear waste, and request that the spirit of the Earth ensure this waste does not harm the land, the natural world, or the human population. Going into ceremony acknowledges the existence of spirit, where it is believed the higher intelligence is found. Our Knowledge Keepers accept the fact that we have limited knowledge as human beings. We are constantly evolving to reach greater understanding of our true existence as human beings. It is in ceremony that we honour the Earth. In our own ignorance of Nature’s moral and ethical laws that apply to all living beings, we appeal to the Earth’s kindness – to her unconditional love – that she expresses by giving us our sustenance. Many of the challenges we face today require a much better understanding of our duties and responsibilities in taking better care of the Earth. There is no doubt that in order to meet these challenges, we must find ways to work together as citizens of the Earth. We share our Indigenous knowledge that can help create a foundation of greater understanding. As the Original People of our homeland, we carry a knowledge that helped our ancestors live a way of life, in which the land was treated with respect. We share our knowledge with all our brothers and sisters who have arrived on our homeland. We all have a universal duty as human beings to support natural laws by acting as caretakers and true stewards of the land. The Faith Keepers of our Nations are concerned with how we are treating the land, and many scientists have joined in this concern. The damage done to the environment now affects the future for all. Nature has always operated on the principle of balance. Climate change represents a symptom of the imbalance that has been created by humankind, through disruption of the natural laws of the land. The increase in storms is having a huge economic impact. Climate change comes with a major economic cost. Now is the time we must invest in preparing for the significant changes climate will bring. In the prophecies of our people, it is said that the Earth will go through a rebirth, a cleansing. It is in our understanding that we must make peace with the Earth, knowing that we have not honoured her natural laws. It will be the forces of Mother Earth that will prevail in bringing back balance and harmony. Our knowledge of nuclear energy and its waste is very limited. We rely on the technical people to educate us and make us aware of this technology, and also of its waste. In spite of having limited knowledge of this technology, we do have an understanding about relationship with the Earth. As a People, we have evolved with an understanding that always taught us to love the land. It is our duty to have a sacred relationship with the land. We were also given a law to share with our relatives who have joined us in our homeland. This law is referred to as Ogichitibakonigaywin – the Great Binding Law of the Great Spirit. We are all related and all connected in the great web of life. We all have a unique purpose to contribute to the web of life. As a proposed partner, as the Original People of our homeland, our responsibility is of a spiritual nature: to act in reminder of our sacred responsibilities to the land. It is hoped that through the guidance of the Spirit, we will find a way to create a model of true partnership that will be discussed with the partners. Our task here today is to find the spirit of true partnership. The only way we can move forward is to have respect for each other. In working together, we must set a foundation based on principles and values in which we treat each other with respect. We must be open to each other, in allowing everyone to share in their understanding and their knowledge. Ultimately the solution is within each individual. The people of the heart will uphold natural law and ensure all of our survival. Through our own personal efforts of coming together, we will be led by the Spirit to find the proper solutions to the challenges we face. We have an opportunity today to move towards setting a new paradigm that can change the current narrative of confrontation in this country. Together we can set the stage that unites us in our diversity, by inclusiveness. As the First People our hope has always been to be an equal partner in seeking solutions and being an equal participant in the decision-making process. There is a critical need to have a moral and ethical leadership that models a way of life supporting the natural laws of the land. If we are able to accomplish this, it sets the stage on how we can find the proper solutions together.