On December 1st, 2023 Pikwàkanagàn First Nation Chief and Council declared a State of Emergency, and as such the leadership is seeking support. Some community members are stepping up offering meals, and fundraising activities. That said, I want to put this out there . . .
As many people know my grandmother and her parents were escorted out of their reserve community in the early 1930s. And most people know that I have been on a long journey seeking understanding, and ascribing meaning to the history of my family misery. In my thirties I learned how to read and write eventually gaining a doctorate. I also travelled through Canada's court system to restore Indian status registration to my great grandmother's and great grandfather's descendants, and many other Indigenous people across Canada. I won Gehl v Canada and I am now a proud "reinstated" Algonquin member of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation.
Along this learning process I encountered many discussions of the role of heart knowledge and the role of mind knowledge when coming to Debwewin (a personal truth). Too many Indigenous people embody heart knowledge without a mindful understanding what Canada did to their ancestors. And this thwarts their forward motion in life. I personally found deep meaning, and thus constructive agency in moving forward, in learning Algonquin culture, history, and wisdom. In essence Indigenous knowledge saved my life.
Along this process of coming to know, navigating the oppressive power of racism, sexism, ableism, white saviourism, and pretendianism, I eventually came to a place of valuing the incredible profoundness of "Debwewin Miikan-Zhidchigewin", an ancient and traditional Anishinaabe teaching that asks individuals to firmly situate themselves at the core of their knowing process, their truth, and also their own journey of coming to wellness; essentially to harness their spirit-agency within in moving through the seven stages of life.
I pulled the profoundness of Debwewin Miikan-Zhidchigewin from several threads such as Anishinaabe language speakers, elders, listening deeply, a Midewiwin practitioner, the literature, difficult emotions and feeling, and from ancient scroll knowledge - and so rest assured it is distinctly Anishinaabe knowledge and wisdom.
As Pikwàkanagàn First Nation Chief and Council members, leaders, thinkers, elders, and traditional people ponder what can be done to help our community members - I want to offer a group teaching of this most profound teaching: Debwewin Miikan-Zhidchigewin.
I have to do something versus nothing. But I cannot do it by myself. There would have to be community and leadership support and their attendance and participation (inclusive of heathy and wise people), a wellness team to stand behind it, and additional resources as needed. Further, participants would have to have their minds clean of all substances, and their hearts would have to be open to deep learning and deep feeling.
I can be reached at email@example.com or through www.lynngehl.com
Lynn is an author, advocate, artist, and public speaker. Her work encompasses both anti-colonial work and the celebration of Indigenous knowledge. She challenges Canada’s practices, policies, and laws of colonial genocide such as the land claims and self-government process, sex-discrimination in the Indian Act, the continued destruction of Akikpautik / Chaudière Falls–an Anishinaabeg sacred place, and Canada’s lack of policy addressing Indigenous women and girls with disabilities who are bigger targets of sexual violence.
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