Posts tagged ‘First Nations’

September 8, 2013

How do you treat your home?

I like this quote from canoeist Bill Mason’s documentary Song of the Paddle, produced in 1978 by the National Film Board of Canada:

Wilderness . . . is a white man’s concept. To the native peoples, the land was not wild, it was home.

 

April 29, 2013

Observed on the street: A circle of life, turning, turning

I came across this beautiful rendition of the aboriginal medicine wheel (also called the wheel of life or the sacred hoop) on the outer wall of my local/district community arts council building:

wheel_of_life

 

I love the grounding stones at centre; the depiction of the cycles of nature, the seasons, the sun; the symbolism of birth, growth, death and rebirth — of life itself.  I love how the prints of humans and animals exist together in the soil, intermingled with the roots of the trees, connected to both the seeds of life and the earth to which all living things eventually return.  I love how each component of the circle relies on every other for balance, for continuity, for solidity, for completeness.

We are all one, forever united in the loop of this enduring narrative.  We share the same history; we share the same future.  Let’s take care of one another the best we can.  Peace.

April 16, 2013

Observed on the trail: Faces in the trees

I came across these two wonderfully intricate carvings peering out at me from tree trunks along a path in Prince George’s Cottonwood Island Park:

Intricate carving of the face of an Indian chief in the bark of a tree           Intricate carving of the face of an old, bearded man in the bark of a tree trunk.

November 2, 2012

Children. . . . The future of our past

My children are the future of my past.

These words come from Alyce Johnson, a professor of First Nations Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia and a member of the Kluane First Nation in Yukon.  She shared them yesterday as she led a group of six women on a “trail talk” along the trails of Forests for the World, a park and demonstration forest in Prince George, B.C.

Alyce spoke to our small group, of which I was a member, about how trails — whether “natural” or “man-made” — carry knowledge of people, landscapes and traditions, and help define languages, narratives and, ultimately, world views.

To me, Alyce’s words drive home the importance of immersing our children in the stories, protocols and traditions of our families, our people, our communities, our earth.  The past (and our cultural histories) cannot be integrated into the future unless carried there by our young ones.  We must therefore equip our children well for the task.

I also love this beautiful quote from a handout Alyce provided during the walk:

I am a map of a storied world expressed from a language that the earth remembers and a people speak.

The Earth remembers, a people speak, and we are one.

(The “Trail Talk” I attended was one of a series organized by the University of Northern British Columbia’s Northern Research Group.)

July 18, 2012

Words from Shawn Atleo

Collected quotations from Shawn Atleo, who was today re-elected for a second term as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada:

On education:

First Nations youth are the youngest and fastest-growing segment of our population. Their share of the labour force will triple over the next 20 years.  First Nations youth who complete high school are twice as likely to be employed, and those who get university degrees triple their earning potential.  Increasing their graduation rates to match those of other Canadians [40 per cent of First Nations youth graduate from high school, compared to 80 per cent of non-First-Nations youth] would inject an additional $71 billion into Canada’s economy over the next 10 years.  This would help eliminate the employment gap, adding another $160 billion to the economy over a 10-year period.

Investing in First Nations is a long-term, sustainable stimulus plan for Canada’s economy.  And yet our learners languish.  First Nations children receive $2,000 less per year than non-aboriginal students.  Schools lack libraries, computers, even heat and drinking water.  Some of our communities lack permanent schools. Simple fairness dictates that we address this intolerable inequity.

When we open a door to a school, we close a door to a jail cell.

On resource development: 

First Nations can and must have a say in designing more sustainable resource development within our country and in our territories. . . . Together, we must plan what a sustainable future looks like.

On awareness and working together:  

Learning is all about . . . listening for understanding [and for] what each each others’ perspectives are.  Somehow we [in Canada] strayed, and it’s time to return to that sentiment.

The consciousness of [First Nations’] history is starting to become well known.  There’s a real sense of resilience.  We have come through a most unbelievably challenging time where most of Canada has not understood.  Now we are welcoming [Canadians] into this conversation.

Let us turn the page to a new chapter, together.