Reconciling with Land, Body and Spirit

Image“Dance as if your feet are the drumsticks and the Earth is your drum, my friend said to me.  A couple of weeks ago, I was at a training retreat just outside of Toronto, hosted by Canadian Roots Exchange.  Bringing together people from indigenous and non-indigenous communities in an effort to start a conversation on reconciliation, the retreat really brought home the reality that we live less than an hour away from a Six Nations land base, but are missing out on a culture and knowledge base that could be so enriching to our understanding of ourselves and the land we live on.

I went to the retreat knowing very little.  I came out of it knowing even less.  But what my friends have taught me is that it’s okay not to know.  As long as you have love in your heart and questions on your tongue.  My indigenous friends have taught me to feel the sense of injustice and then to ask questions. 

I don’t have the answers on how to reverse the long processes of colonization that have become engrained into our society.  And I sometimes get the feeling that people, when reflecting on reserves, reconciliation and the challenges facing indigenous populations, think that they need to have the answers.  Need to know what it means to be an ally (and a “perfect” one, at that).  Need to know how to be politically correct.  Need to know the dates and details of treaties.

My indigenous friends taught me to question the over-intellectualization of these experiences.  They taught me to question the concept of privilege – because what do we mean when we say that my friend who hunts for her family’s food isn’t privileged?  What do we mean by privilege?

My friends taught me to be.  And with them, I laughed and cried, felt joy and pain, and thought with my head and my heart.  Heart-knowledge, they called it.  

We live in what we call a multicultural society, but I wonder how much we immerse ourselves into the cultures of people around us.  Into the cultures that the land we live on has cultivated for so many years.

If you’re interested in having as beautiful and enriching experience as I did, two weeks ago, check out the MacServe Engage trip to Manitoulin Island in May – you might even meet my friends!