Dedwasnyeha’ Dwanoha’ Ohwejade – We will take care of Mother Earth

The Gathering Place by the Grand on Six Nations held a gathering of Indigenous Knowledge Holders, Scholars and Conservationists last week. The convention center was at full capacity. The event was organized by Maskasa Looking Horse whose nations are Mohawk Wolf clan and Lakota (Cheyenne River). The event was sponsored by; Ohneganos; Indigenous Education Council; Six Nations Polytechnic; The Global Center for Understanding Climate Change Impacts on Transboundary Waters; Nature at McMaster University/Tek committee McMaster; and Six Nations Health Services -Egowadiya Dagenh – Land Based Healing Center.

 The keynote speaker was Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, a mother, decorated professor, scientist, award winning author and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Her 2013 released book Braiding Sweetgrass has received international acclaim from the likes of authors Jane Goodall and Elizabeth Gilbert; and American journalist/TV personality Lisa Ling.

 Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s central message is “When we heal the land the land heals us. The land as the teacher, library; healer/pharmacy that heals the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental our wellbeing. We have a responsibility to the land. Indigenized thinking has been colonized. Do we think about land as property and natural resources or do we think about it in our deeper sense of belonging. Old school western conservation has to change its thinking. The first thing that needs to be changed is to restore a respectful reciprocal relationship with both indigenous and western peoples. Then we can get down to structure, function and repair of ecosystems. We are going to listen to the land/plants and see what it has to say about healing. It’s a very different way of thinking about ecological restoration. Ecological restoration is inseparable from cultural and spiritual restoration.”

 There were multiple panels consisting of highly accredited indigenous and non-indigenous people. Dr. Bev Jacobs Indigenous Provost of Indigenous law at the University of Windsor sat on one of the panels. The panel subject was Ethical engagement with traditional ecological knowledge. Dr. Jacobs stated “that the relationship we have with the land and making it very personal because we all are human, but we also have families; we have clans; we have communities; we have nations that we have a responsibility to all of them. If we start thinking about it personally it shifts the way that we do things. We all want to do well and be well for our future generations-that’s one of our laws.”

 At the end people formed groups that came up with solutions and thoughts. It was apparent that all groups were concerned with capitalist timelines like rushed development that harms the environment for future generations or current government guidelines that says how much PCP levels are allowed in water as opposed to being able to drink the water.

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