Indigenous Wellbeing in The Times Of COVID-19

  • INTRODUCTORY WISDOM FROM OUR MATRIARCHS:

    A Wholistic Framework for Safe Wellness: BODY, MIND, HEART & SPIRIT
    Connecting The Essentials

    Banakonda Kennedy Kish (Bell)

    Banakonda Kennedy Kish Bell

    Reflecting on the First Fire Prophecy  

    "I hold dearly the beautiful Vision that is woven into the framework of our belief in spirit at the Centre of all life. The belief that we are all related, connected in a quest, a desire for wholeness. A wholeness embodied within a way of seeing, relating, knowing and behaving that embodies a vision of wellness and a belief in healing. 

    The First Fire of the Anishinaabe Seven Fires Prophecies tells us about a time when the Anishinaabe people were in great danger. This prophecy told the people to find strength in the teachings and traditions and compelled them to rise and move from the Eastern ocean shores of Turtle Island, and turn inland for safety and security. What a powerful, spirit directed journey our ancestors embarked on! 

    When I reflect on these prophecies, I am so grateful for the insights and instructions that remain there for us now. There are important teachings for today, for the challenges before us. The remembering of this ‘call to action’ from long ago—asked our ancestors to move away from their homeland and travel great distances into unknown territory.  

    We are now called to action again, to turn inward to our own personal landscape, our own lodges, our teachings and medicines. It is essential for us to take up this course of action on behalf of ourselves and all our relations in the Four Directions (.pdf). We need to take care of each other by continuing to follow the recommendations; stay home, practice appropriate physical distancing, and be vigilant around disinfecting and general hygiene

    We know our ancestors were thinking of the Seven Generations to come when they made that great challenging journey. We are the generations that they were thinking of, as they persevered, carried their bundles and cared for one another. They lived out their lives with creation, careful to take up their place, taking only what they needed, practicing reciprocity.

    We are practicing reciprocity, guided by the beautiful gifts of kind honest sharing and respect when we take up this call to action. These are the values and beliefs in the sacredness of life, inherent in our blood memory. Now, like then, we need to move away from the comfort of the known and familiar. Like our Ancestors, we rise to the challenges, striving to protect life for ourselves and for those yet to come, as was done for us.”    

    Kahontakwas Diane Longboat

    Diane Longboat

    Skennen-Peace

    Kasehstenhsera-Power
    Kanikonhri:yo-Good Mind

    "It is in the most challenging times of life that we find our true values and self-reflect on our true character. We are now witness to the fulfilment of prophecy foretold by ancient ones of our Nations. Change has come to humanity on a global scale. And yet, Turtle Island is the place where peace lives. As Onkwehonwe people, our spiritual leaders teach us that we are spiritually protected in our homelands. We find ourselves living in the times of the fulfillment of our prophecies and we see the evidence daily. As these difficult days pass, we will thrive again. We are fortunate enough to be witness to the changes coming to humanity all over the world. 

    While the teachings of our Nations across Turtle Island foretold of this illness, they also gave instructions to strengthen us. The Seers and the gifted ones warned us in 2012 that a great sickness would come that would affect the lungs of the people. Medicines were spoken of to prepare the body and ceremonies offered to ensure that respected the interconnectedness of our spirits to all elements of well-being. We were reminded to take care of our emotional (heart) and mental (mind) well-being. It was prophesied that we would come under great stress during this great sickness.  

    The time is now for all Onkwehonwe people across our homelands to share the medicines of our Traditional Healers for physical strength, to keep a focused daily spiritual discipline for the well-being of the mind and our emotions, and to maintain faith in the Creator holding infinite power.  

    Spiritual leaders, Chiefs, Clan Mothers and Faith Keepers are at the forefront at this time to guide the people when many are experiencing fear, loss, death and dying, and they help us through the immense change that is causing much global disruption in families and communities.  

    Ceremonies from across our Nations have been offered throughout April and March 2020 and many will continue to be shared virtually—in ways where safety; physical distancing, self-isolation or quarantining is required. This continues to be done to renew medicine societies and to virtually gather whole communities to pray together at specific times. Sacred Fires have been lit throughout our homelands, healing dances and healing songs have been sent with prayers throughout Turtle Island.  

    The wisdom and the directions from Traditional Healers, Medicine Society Leaders, Knowledge Keepers, Elders and Oral Historians are clear: return to the land in safe, central-family, physically distant and individual-centered ways, take care of our Elders, youth, children and babies, those at greater risk, gather the medicines, and keep the ceremonies going daily. 

    Believe in the infinite power of the Creator! Be strong and make our Ancestors proud! "

  • ANISHINAABE & HAUDENOSAUNEE GRANDMOTHER WISDOM

    Our cultural values are embedded in our spirits and direct us to help one another, share unconditionally, uplift the hearts of each other and give as needed. Take time now to reflect:

    What is our understanding of the social determinants of health? How are we acknowledging that healthcare and societal recommendations—and access to culturally safe care—do not all apply for marginalized peoples, whether living in urban or remote settings?

    Receive the wisdom of your ancestors and present-day ceremonial leaders. Feel, and experience this encouragement, we are here. Be informed by the guidance and understanding that is there, as it always has been. What are we learning? 

    • That our Ancestors foretold of these times when our ways of defiling our First Mother would come back to challenge humanity and that she would rebalance herself. 
    • That we have the Spirit of our Ancestors standing behind us, we have each other, and we have this great responsibility right now before us, which is to care for our children and our children’s children.  
    • That following ethical spiritual law is demanded of all global citizens: as First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and communities who already live in precarious conditions, we MUST be cared for in accordance with our own governance systems
    • That great patience, creativity, collaboration, innovation and kind honesty are to be upheld as skills/characteristics to value as we move through the changes of isolation and follow the guidance of our doctors.  
    • That this is a time to slow down:  
      Family ➔ Community ➔ Heart ➔ Centered—Nation-to-Nation and without borders.  
    • That while a virus does not discriminate on social status, wealth, geography, race or faith, Indigenous communities (urban or remote) are at a higher risk so we must help one another in safe ways. One model does not suit all. 
    • That despite the overwhelming socio-economic and healthcare disparities our communities face, we are fortunate enough to bear witness to the changes in the minds of the people.  
    • That old systems will meet new systems based on spiritual law and the natural laws of Mother Earth will guide the future for humanity. May our actions mirror understanding and respect for this. 
    • That the diversity in our ancestral teachings will be harnessed by our Spiritual Leaders as they show us the way forward. Our diversity is sophisticated and sacred, this is no time for division or competition.
    • That we can do this together, in prayer, in ceremony and in social connections by phone, email, video conferencing apps, and all other virtual/digital means we have available to us, as we respond to the call to safety to the life of ourselves and each other

    You are not alone. You are much loved. You are prayed for daily. 

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