I woke up from a childhood cushioned from reality and blind to the walls around me, walls that separated people of color from those privileged by Empire. Yet with each new layer of whiteness and coloniality I unpack within myself, my personal obligation and responsibility to tear down those walls grows in equal measure.
Terra Nullius | NO MORE WALLS
The Doctrine of Discovery | NO MORE WALLS
The Papal Bulls | NO MORE WALLS
Manifest Destiny | NO MORE WALLS
White Supremacy | NO MORE WALLS
“Racial Science” | NO MORE WALLS
Monotheistic Religion | NO MORE WALLS
Genocide and Slavery | NO MORE WALLS
Settler-Colonialism | NO MORE WALLS
Cultural Imperialism | NO MORE WALLS
The Military Complex | NO MORE WALLS
Corporatocracy | NO MORE WALLS
Ecocide | NO MORE WALLS
One day we found ourselves drifting through Hope B.C. and decided to sleep under the stars on the bank of the Fraser River. We approached a circle of Stό:lō folk beside their nets and liquor bottles, and in the common way of vagrants everywhere, were immediately made welcome. Language and cultural differences were definite barriers, but at the moment the need to set the nets and harvest the salmon took priority. As the evening wore on, the drinking took center stage. Farther down the rocky shoreline, I fell asleep listening to the sing-song Stό:lō speech. Screams in the night woke me, as inebriated people ran back and forth along the riverbank as a Stό:lō man became caught in the current. His body washed up downriver many days later, and I hold the despair etched into the actions of this devastation.
Fast forward through a kaleidoscope of cultural events; teachings from the Elders; pow wows; Indigenous arts, books, film, theatre and music; and First Nation friends who sparked my life for decades. Deep in the canyon of city streets, I pass a crouching woman with long black hair hidden in the corner where bus shelter meets skyscraper wall. Urgent with my own necessities and agendas, I feel helpless in the face of such obvious need, and press on. What happened to this Indigenous woman? Her Toronto was not my Toronto, and I hold the despair etched into the actions of this devastation.
A few years later I am working in an art gallery in a mall, and an Indigenous artist appears day after day to take his cues from the paintings. Over coffee, I hear he has a terminal illness, in addition to PTSD. What is PTSD? It is being pushed beyond one’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits not once, not twice, but repeatedly - over and over and over. I see the dark spirits circling above this man, both from his own Ojibway heritage and the other chthonic realms. I hold the despair etched into the actions of this devastation.
I continue to do anti-racism work on principle, and as a Settler-Ally, I know I have no right to speak. Then, a prominent academic tells me that keeping silent is an extension of the colonial agenda to infantilize us all, and I try to stay in middle ground. I learn how kind words can change lives. But in the shadows, the tears of Indigenous people continue to flow, and my care is yet another burden, another misguided platitude that does not fit the healing pattern.
I hold the despair etched into the actions of this devastation.
Mi’kmaq | YOUR VOICE
Innu | I AM LISTENING
Sahtu Dene | YOUR VOICE
Algonquin | I AM LISTENING
Anishnaabe | YOUR VOICE
Odawa | I AM LISTENING
Haudenosaunee | YOUR VOICE
Cree | I AM LISTENING
Blackfoot | YOUR VOICE
Lakota | I AM LISTENING
Syilx/Okanagan | YOUR VOICE
Stό:lō | I AM LISTENING
Suddenly, in the midst of the activism, rallies, discourse and friendship, an idyllic vision rises in my heart. Should I speak of it? Do I dare? My vision touches on “inclusivity,” which is linked to neo-liberalism, white privilege and power. And yet regardless of blowback, I continue to hold a vision of hope. It will not go away. It is based on mutual healing. Without pretending we are all the same, my vision is of a thriving collective of diverse folk bonded to the Ancient Spirit of the land.
Post-colonial | HEALING
Anti-colonial | HEALING
Decolonial | HEALING
Uncolonial | HEALING
Honoring the Treaties | HEALING
Indigenous Sovereignty | HEALING
Repatriation | HEALING
Restitution | HEALING
Protection of Lands and Waters | HEALING
Respect instead of Appropriation | HEALING
Native/Non-Native Alliances | HEALING
Intercultural Competency | HEALING
Re-landing | HEALING
Ancestral Knowledge | HEALING
Reconciliation | HEALING
Peaceful Coexistence | HEALING
Unity in Diversity | HEALING
The Circle of Earth Community | HEALING
Pre-colonial and Indigenous societies all over the world know Mother Earth as sacred, and the source of all life, enchantment and joy. Without exception, the wisdom and cultural traditions of all people emerge from the land. Not to know this is to remain disconnected from the Earth, the source of our spiritual ecology, and to perpetuate the goals of Empire that separate us from our embeddedness in the natural world.
How do we bypass the dominance of modernity and go directly to the source of our eco-being? We – eternal reflections of the Great Mother – red, yellow, black, brown and white – all of us, People of the Earth – are sacred vessels for spirit, ever loving, ever perfect, always blessed. We are strong in our bones as the Earth is strong! When we reclaim our true power, our circles form in bonds of protection, and we speak for the green realm, for all beings.
The love of the land is the only true wealth we have – we are part of the Earth and the Earth is part of us! And in this fledgling love, a small fire in the darkness, the spirit is luminous in every person. Before time and before place, there is something we all share. We are each a spark of the Great Mystery, in our primal being we are whole, and nothing has ever been broken. Knowing our true heart’s home on the land, we hold ourselves gently, in perfect love and perfect trust.
Passageways Journal Volume II, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2017.
Pegi Eyers is the author of Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community, an award-winning book that explores strategies for social justice, uncolonization, ethnocultural identity, building land-emergent community & resilience in times of massive change.