Celebrating Canada/Turtle Island & A Future of Indigenous Wisdom

My life has been touched so deeply by the wisdom of First Nations elders, teachers and Wisdom Keepers in ways that words can never fully do justice. So much of my soul and sense of the beauty and truth of the world has been resurrected by their eco-spiritual genius, profound ceremonies and healing ways and their great love for all creation. They salvaged me from the doldrums of modern life and its slow murder of all that is sacred. In many ways, much of my life has been saved by them and I will ever be in gratitude to them and honour them with highest respect. Before every performance I give, I place a hand on an Anishinaabe prayer flag gifted to me and honour the ones native to this land, Turtle Island.
That I and many others have been warmly invited by First Nations peoples into their traditional ceremonies and even train to be spiritual warriors under their ancient lineage of wisdom speaks volumes about the virtue of their character. We are, after all, symbolic of the force of oppression that our own ancestors perpetrated here. And we are still proponents of a system that continues to violate them. And not only were we welcomed but we were also invited into a co-creation of a mission to spread a vision on these lands to truly steward a new world based on respect of Mother Earth and spiritual truth. Heroism doesn't come close to encapsulating the kind of strength it takes to not only forgive your oppressor but look deep into their pain and extend a helping hand, welcoming them into community spirit.
But this is prophecy, or so I was told by an elder. Amid all the teachings I have received, perhaps this was the most stunning: that certain tribes apparently were aware that the White man was coming from faraway lands and was deeply sick and disturbed because they had lost connection to their own indigenous heritage. And that they would, subsequently, not acknowledge nor honour the beautiful indigenous ways of the First Nations peoples and would do horrendous violence to them. Yet, the prophecy affirms that there would be a time when kin of the settlers would awaken and realize that they needed to reclaim a connection to the Earth and Her sacred laws. It was then that they would begin to come to the sacred fires of the First Nations peoples to learn again how they could once again be indigenous peoples.

Back in 2012, I conducted a traditional Vision Quest under the guidance of Anishinaabe elder and chief, Dave Courchene Jr. who created the Turtle Lodge in Manitoba, a centre for indigenous knowledge to be shared and empowered. During the final ceremony when we finally received water to drink, I remember staring at Dave's son's cap which had a Canadian flag on it and was presented with a vision of what the inner-meaning of the symbol was: the Red, First Nations people on either side, holding the White people in the centre in council and presenting the Red leaf of indigenous wisdom…
It is my hope and dream that 150 years of Canada's existence is leading to fulfillment of this Native American prophecy, that this nation would truly represent a place for indigenous knowledge to finally flourish and lead us from the doom of modern civilization which has proven itself without a doubt to be a death knell for the survival of our species and the sacred balance of the Earth's ecology. Truly, honouring First Nations peoples and working with them to make certain they are on equal stead with all others who share in their lands is not simply about human rights but it's also about realizing, humbly, that they are the ones who can lead us out of this nightmare of environmental devastation. We are crippled by a terrifying myopia that rears its head in a secular, narcissistic and materialist-science worldview that posits humans as supreme and animals, plants and the elements as lesser folk. Worse, modern science reeks of the hangover of Christendom’s worst behaviours in its continuance of seeing the Earth as something to plunder for its resources rather than a sacred planet of profound mysticism to be respected and devoted to. We are blind and destructive; a civilization run by psychopaths and the environmental news is no longer inconvenient truths: it is the portending of doomsday, all by our own hands…
Whenever I hear a true First Nations elder speak who has been raised in their spiritual disciplines and rites of passage; in their ineffably brilliant noble principles and a deep affection for Mother Earth, I cannot help the  tears from coming. And these tears are response to the incredible beauty with which they speak of the ‘Living Spirit’ alive in all things, the spiritual powers of animal spirits, the indomitable love of Mother Earth for all of Her kind and a cascading profundity of wisdom that tingles me into full awakening. And the tears are also from the sorrow of knowing in a moment the immensity of what we have lost in modern culture. It’s so much. So much that we don’t even know how to begin to understand…
I recall during some footage of the Standing Rock protest that gripped the world a young and brash Native American Water Protector joking to the camera that 'we are once again trying to save the White man from himself'.  
Canada may be 150 years old but Turtle Island is thousands of years its senior. That should startle something deep in us to wake up. My humble hope is that the ambivalence that I’m witnessing surrounding how to celebrate Canada in this landmark anniversary is but a sign that many are now aware of the reality of this country’s history and the responsibility and possibility we represent in this present to do things differently. My personal desire is that Canada become the leading nation in showing the world what it looks like when colonial/settler peoples heal the wounds perpetrated on the indigenous peoples of the land they now occupy in a full national movement. Moreover, it is desperately needed that First Nations elders and Wisdom Keepers begin to become leaders for us as a nation for the environmental crisis is the PRIMARY challenge facing us all and we have are handicapped in seeing clearly what needs to be done.
We are all indigenous. But some of us have lost that connection and for a very long time. It can come back online for sure but in the meantime we need to go to those who have kept their connection alive and see them as leaders, teachers and guides to making that reconnection happen along right lines of alignment. There also needs to be a national movement of mourning and full acceptance of the pain that not only has happened to the indigenous of Turtle Island but to the indigenous of all lands, including Europe. Only then will we understand the common ground of suffering of all peoples who honour the Earth and the common potential to renew our rites of sacred connection.