I recently had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a Haudenosaunee Traditional Foods and Botany course at Mc Master University, led by Renee Thomas Hill. I was thrilled when I was invited to be a part of it as a helper. I was asked to help share knowledge on wellness as it is mirrored in leadership and practiced through “peace, power and righteousness.”
Early on in my path at Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative (SOADI) as Education Coordinator, I was fortunate enough to hear Renee give a lecture at Brock University in 2010. She spoke about the 13 Grandmother Moon teachings and explained what happens with the residual unresolved grief the majority of us all carry. How the natural cycles of the moon which constantly builds and releases has such influence over us; and how sickness is so deeply connected with the constant building and ‘un-releasing’ that we do. She further explained that the negative energy of unresolved grief continues to cycle within, which causes sickness in mental, physical, spiritual and emotional realms. This sickness is compounded by the lack of roles and responsibilities we have as a people and the replacement of more ‘modern’ life skills than ‘traditional,’ which is now the new norm.
Her words ignited a fire within me, and the SOADI 13 Grandmother Moon Diabetes Wellness Journey was conceived. The intention was to create a diabetes educational resource for Indigenous Communities to relate with and embrace. In the beginning of this journey, I could not have imaged what was in store. As with anything that comes from heart, it must be experienced to be expressed with a true understanding. At the time I had no idea what it meant to hold a mirror up and to really look within. I began to understand the life-skills of acceptance and unconditional love for the reflection looking back. To me that is what the 13 Grandmother Moon teachings really represents, the long look within.
There is an interaction to spirit that happens with you, yourself and the interconnectedness of all relationships. In my understanding, this can be best explained by the representation of ‘Peace, Power and Righteousness.’ Peace being that peace within, your ability to connect to yourself and the environment; connecting to one’s physical body and health. Power is perception, beliefs and how you interact within those environments; this is having a good mind stemming from true nutrition.
Righteousness is our walk and the interconnectedness with all relationships, this is the medicine. It is a true gift and life-skill to practice our purpose with these principles; I believe this is what leadership is based on. SOADI coins this idea as “walking the talk,” which is a cornerstone to building healthy communities.
It is comforting to know that people can educate themselves to be in the moment and to make healthy choices at any time they choose. All that is required is to have the courage to be open and look into the metaphorical mirror, smile and say ‘I got your back sista, I love you’. I am very honoured to have had these experiences with SOADI and Renee, knowing that Grandmother Moon continues to shine down on all of us.
Shannon Van Every is the SOADI Education Coordinator.