“There was one guy that came by—he was an old guy—he said, “You know,” he says, “if you get tired of the people, just close your eyes, and remember that this here is the Grandfathers!” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “A long time ago, we used to bury ourselves in the trees and then when we put ourselves down after five or six years, we buried ourselves under the rocks, and when we were buried under those rocks, we became part of those rocks. So when I say the Grandfathers, I mean all the rocks are the Grandfathers. And they are there to help us to be able to rise up and understand.” And then he said, “Close your eyes sometimes and remember. Use your imagination and see them dancing when the rest of the world pisses you off!”
Stripe and Daisy encountered Forgotten Warrior last December on Spadina Avenue in Toronto or, more accurately, on Ishpadinaa in Tkaronto.
Forgotten Warrior and the Aboriginal elder remind us of the power of meditation to get past the noise, bullshit, aggression, or distraction of people who, like most of us, are disconnected from the wisdom of the earth, the Aboriginal ancestors, and Spirit.
If we close our eyes and imagine, we can remember and tune into a powerful healing energy that is here with us even though we live in a big modern city. We can transcend the concrete, plumbing, electricity, cellphone waves, and pollution to touch the land and receive its gifts and wisdom.
If we close our eyes and imagine, we can rise above our colonizing history to honour and communicate with the Aboriginal ancestors. We can celebrate the history of this land, all its inhabitants, especially those who shaped the energy we benefit from by they themselves remaining connected to and respectful of the land and its gifts and wisdom.
If we close our eyes and imagine, we can “see” the spirits of the trees and rocks and “hear” their guidance. We can remember the remedies and the beneficial vibrations of the plants, trees, and crystals, to benefit from their gifts and wisdom.
If we close our eyes and imagine, we can soften into our hearts to hear the heartbeat of the earth. We can remove the obstructions that disrupt harmony on all levels and in time deconstruct the social and political hurdles we have erected.
If we close our eyes and imagine peace, in time, we will live it.
Excerpt from an article in the Toronto Star by Eric Andrew-Gee, June 2, 2015
Toronto street signs a reminder of First Nations heritage:
Group renames streets to draw attention to the overlooked aboriginal presence in Toronto.
…The project is run by Hayden King, director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson, and Susan Blight, student life co-ordinator at the University of Toronto’s First Nations House. Inspired by the Idle No More movement in December 2012, they set out to remind the city that it stood on aboriginal land, and that it still has a vibrant aboriginal community, often overlooked in discussions of Toronto’s past and modern identity, they thought. “The message is that indigenous people were here — are here now,” said Blight, a member of the Couchiching First Nation.
Tuesday’s signs, still posted at press time, were inspired by the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report summary, which found that Canada’s residential school system amounted to cultural genocide. Blight and King say that by giving prominence to Ojibwe words, they hope to heal some of the damage caused by educational policies that long discouraged the learning of aboriginal language, sometimes violently.
“Ishpadinaa,” for example, is the word on which “Spadina” is based — it means “a place on a hill,” said King, who is from the Beausoleil First Nation. “Toronto” itself comes from a Mohawk word, according to aboriginal language scholar John Stackley — “tkaronto,” meaning “where there are trees standing in the water. The phrase refers to stakes that members of the Huron tribe installed to make fishing weirs where Lake Simcoe meets Lake Couchiching.
Still, King and Blight believe the city “erases” its aboriginal history, which goes back thousands of years and contains its share of abuse and betrayal.
In 1787, the British government bought the land between Etobicoke Creek and Ashbridges Bay from a group of Mississauga chiefs for 10 shillings —$60 in today’s money. Historians now agree that the chiefs believed they were leasing the land, not selling it. In 2010, the Mississauga of New Credit won a $145-million land claim related to the territory.
In 2013, King and Blight pasted a sign onto a plaque outside Queen’s Park that summed up the goal of their project: “We all live on Native territory,” it read. “Welcome to our community. How do you recognize it?” In an interview Tuesday, Blight said she was fighting the “erasure” of aboriginal language and culture in a city that celebrates its diversity while ignoring the land’s original inhabitants.
“Oftentimes what we see — and these plaques are a good indication of this — is that indigenous people are seen as a blip, a line in a longer colonial history,” she said. “There’s a kind of erasure that happens, and a kind of alienation that happens.” Asked if she had other locations in mind for future signs, Blight demurred. “We kind of like the element of surprise,” she said.
“We’re a bunch of thieves and we don’t have any regard for the fellow person … not many of us anyway … most of us take as much as we can and disregard the person we are taking it from and that’s what’s been happening to my people all along.”