The beauty of ceremony is that it does not judge any of us.
I hear these words as I sit in a room with co-workers participating in an all day Indigenous Peoples workshop. As I told one of the facilitators, Brad, “I want to learn to be non-judgemental even when I know I’m being judgemental.”
So do I, he responded.
It is a lifelong journey.
Cultural awakening is about reconnecting to ceremony. To ‘old ways’ that sustained a people before ‘contact’, before cultural genocide, before Residential School and cultural trauma, before the tearing away of cultural identity and the societal intention to ‘take the Indian out of the child’.
We are all victims of colonialization, says Sid, the other facilitator. We must all heal together.
I spent most of my school years in France and Germany. One of the most common responses when I told people I was from Canada was, “Ah, You are American.”
No, I’d emphatically deny. Canadian.
What does that mean? people would ask, and I would struggle to tell them who I was.
And then today, as I listened to Brad and Syd, as I thought about what they were sharing about the 7 Sacred Teachings and the Medicine Wheel and Grandfather’s Teachings and Tipi Teachings and The Seven Sacred Rights, it struck me that for generations we have tried to erase aboriginal ways when really, what we need to do is embrace them, assimilate us into them, not the other way around.
To be Canadian, to truly understand my Canadian roots, I must step into Aboriginal culture. I must walk with All My Relations to become part of the history of this land, Turtle Island, as it was known before ‘contact’.
I have had the arrogant and somewhat myopic view that ‘my Canada’ is built on history since white man came to this country.
My Canada began before ‘contact’. My Canada began before the Indian Act. Before Treaties and reservations. Before the tearing away of aboriginal culture to make way for a ‘new way’ of being present on this land.
My Canada is deeper than my roots. It is broader than my vision of the past.
My Canada is an ancient story steeped in the teachings of Creator, Spirit World, Grandmothers and Grandfathers, and so much more.
My Canada is the story of the past where we walked this land honouring nature, plant, animal, minerals. Where we honoured our service to nationhood, family, all our relations and our own responsibility to be accountable for our individual journey, our thoughts, beliefs, actions and attitudes.
In the Tipi Teachings it says that ‘we are all connected by relationships and depend on each other.’
Tipi Teachings teach us that we can change our destiny and make positive changes in our life when we wake up every day and decide to have a happy day, because only we know what is best for us.
In our relatedness, what is best for us, must be good for another.
I spent a day in an Indigenous teachings workshop and came away understanding what it means to be Canadian.
I am blessed.
I am grateful.
I am All My Relations.