To feel the warmth of the earth and life around us is a blessing from the universe and powers that the Great Spirit has given Human Beings. Our women and children are the biggest gift Creator has given to man to protect, honor, and celebrate creation with. So much abundance of life in so many forms, species, and the ecosystems, the circle of life and creation in all their forms. Our elders say our ancestors are waiting for us on the other side, the Buddhists say we are reincarnated, and Christians say we go to heaven.
The Navajo teach their children that there is beauty below us and beauty above us and beauty all around us, and that all Creation can hear us. When we talk to them, the plant life, rivers, lakes, mountains, stones, flowers, insects, animals, fish, birds, air, fire, and water are powers that can hear us too when we give thanks by prayer.
Uncle Robert John says that the Milky Way is a home for the Spirit World when we cross to the other side. He says our job is to help our loved ones to cross over so they can have a good journey. Carlos Santana says it is our responsibility to bury our relatives. Tom Porter said our Great Creator is The Great Mystery and The Great Spirit; many elders say Tom always has a different story to tell to inspire, to empower his Mohawk People of the Pines, the People of the Longhouse, the People of the Flint.
When we gathered in Utah this September for the Religious Parliament, the Mayan shaman said our bones are in the same structure as the constellations and the cosmos. They also said the fire in our hearts is connected to the fire in the sun and all the planets in the universe. Then the Mayan couple, husband and wife, lead our elders through a sacred ceremony to honor and give thanks to Mother Earth and the universe.
We like to say we have a Way of Life, and it is not a religion. Natives believe we are on a spiritual journey with the natural world. But many of our people are becoming unnatural as the people of the world are falling asleep spiritually; many people of the world have become spiritually bankrupt. Father Thomas Berry the eco-Christian theologian said Human Beings have drifted into the fantasy world and the real world is being lost to the fast pace of society.
There is a divorce taking place with the natural world. This fantasy has not been positive; it is killing all the life force and species. So when Dr. Reed Noss, Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Florida, spoke at the University of Toronto in June this year, he spoke of the life species being destroyed in Florida all the way to Georgian Bay and being invaded by urban sprawl. This gift, our Mother Earth that the universe has trusted us humans with to honor and respect, is connected to us Human Beings physically, psychically and spiritually—why are we killing ourselves? We need to prepare ourselves and our families for the New Year coming and the generations that are unborn.
When my partner/wife and I returned from Walk for Water in Atlanta, Georgia, Alicja said to me we should have a walk to Stop Dump Site 41, and we did. The Walk for Water was a huge success and Steve Ogden was never happier once it went on Dale Gold Hawk with hundreds of thousands of listeners tuning in. After Alicja’s walk to Stop Site 41, Maude Barlow had another walk that started in Springwater and ended at Art Parnel’s clover field where we were camped out already for 3 months.
What I want to say now is the people who showed up were the most peaceful and loving protesters I had seen in a long time. The spirit that day was so gentle and loving; it was a beautiful summer day. My wife and I had sat on the wagon, and the Ojibway drummers were being led by John Hawk, the camp’s Fire Keeper. These memories will last forever if we let them: the sun shining, the wind blowing, and all of us saying to ourselves, “This is an awesome day to be helping Mother Earth.”
We need to fill ourselves up with this kind of energy and activity that is positive and creative! We need to keep Simcoe County and Ontario clean and our sacred waters clean so that we and creation can live a good life! When Alicja and I used to drive from Toronto every chance we could to be in our home in Simcoe forest, we never stopped thinking of all the negative development and urban sprawl taking over the farmland and forests. Of course we have the Green Belt and the Green Party, but will this stop the fast pace of lawyers and money changing hands? We know the French Hill is being chopped up, and it is a huge hardwood forest in Waverly, Ontario. We need you to cry again. We need to organize ourselves for life and the future. We need to honor our relatives in the Spirit World and never forget them.
In Memory of Alicja Rozanska
Photography and Story by Danny Beaton, Turtle Clan, Mohawk