Travelling to the heart of Anishinaabe land and wisdom

I wrote about one nation that has lived in relationship with the land where I now live, the Haudenosaunee.  Today I am travelling to the heart of a second such nation, the Anishinaabe. And learning about the Prophecy of the Seventh Fire, an origin story we should all come to embrace. All nations have an origin story, rooted in history but performing the function of myth – to communicate that what unites citizens and guides them to collective action. Think of the American nation, forged in a violent struggle for freedom and securing that freedom through a constitution.  Or the Quebec nation, surviving calamity on the Plains of Abraham to emerge as an island of French culture and language in an English sea. To be American is to fight for freedom. To be Québécois is to preserve language and culture. Continue reading

La Terre de Rencontre

    Source: La Mer Bleue - Commission de la Capitale Nationale    Hier j’ai vu des framboises sauvages, les plantes rubus idaeus. C’est mon amie Annie Legault qui les a identifiées lors de notre randonnée autour de la Mer Bleue, une tourbière dans le sud-est d’Ottawa. C’était un matin chaud et humide de juillet et les framboises rouges flottaient au-dessus des herbes hautes, la majorité déjà piquées par les oiseaux. Ottawa est une zone liminale entre deux langues et deux cultures, choisie par l’empire britannique comme capitale d’une colonie bilingue 18 ans après le fusionnement du Bas- et du Haut-Canada. C’est ma ville d’origine. Continue reading

In Gratitude to the Haudenosaunee

This land that I now live on, just above the Don River, has been in relationship with humans for thousands of years. As I build my own relationship with it, I want to know those that have cared for it before. The people belonged to many nations over the millennia.  After all, the Don River is part of a portage route that connected Lake Ontario with Lake Huron. This is the shortest land route between these two Great Lakes and therefore central to the international trade that connected the Atlantic with the interior of the continent. So getting to know the peoples that cared for this land all this time will take me many years. Continue reading

It all starts with the land

No matter where we are in Canada, we are never too far from a place where we can connect with the land.  I live not that far from the centre of Toronto. This morning I took my dog Cinco through a break in the fence two blocks from our home. Twenty metres down all I could see was green, even if the noise above reminded me that six million other Canadians live close at hand. I learned from the Anishnaabe journalist Tanya Talaga that the people of this land consider plants and animals to be All Our Relations. I read her book to learn about the horror of child suicides. But in the process I had a first insight into a worldview that sees all beings as equal in value and in constant interaction with us. In my attempt to connect with the land this morning, I kept my eyes open on the walk, looking for a sign. I found one within minutes. Continue reading

The Words We Say Before All Else

    The people who first lived in this land have offered us a way to bring ourselves together in common purpose. We say the following words at the beginning of any serious undertaking, such as the building of a new nation. We draw on a thousand-year tradition of diplomacy in committing ourselves to relationship with the land and with one another.  I give thanks to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy for offering this "ThanksgivingAddress" for us all to say:   Continue reading