Elders and Pipe carriers gather to draw awareness on the importance of
Reprinted with the permission of EAST Inc. Written by Björk Bjarnadóttir
Recent attempts to lobby the government of Manitoba to reverse it’s decision on BiPole III lead Eastside Elder and Pipe Carrier, Garry ”Morning Star” Raven, Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle clan, to host a Pipe Carriers Ceremony to bring up awareness on how important the lands on Eastside of Lake Winnipeg are to cultural and spiritual values for First Nations who live in the region and who still continue to practice their traditional ways.
The Pipe Carriers Gathering and Ceremony was held at the Circle of Life Thunderbird house, December 8, 2007, all were welcome to attend and listen and understand what the Pipe Carriers had to say about their sacred land.
Eleven Pipe Carriers did the ceremony and roughly 30 people attended this sacred ceremony. Prayers were said for the four directions, to the four sacred elements: fire, earth, water and wind, to the four stages of life: child, youth, parents and elders and women Pipe Carriers did a special ceremony for the water, because water is life and women are responsible for the water.
It was noted that if the decision on BiPole III were to be reversed the four elements will be unbalanced and also alter the natural design of the landscape for any future life that exists there.
All the Pipe Carriers shared their concerns regarding the land that might be sacrificed for the BiPole III. One of the Pipe Carriers and a Medicine woman, Flora Ruck, raised concerns about how there are so few places left on earth that are unspoiled, where you can go to gather herbal medicines, to know that what you gather is healthy and that they will grow there year after year. Flora relies on certain herbal medicines to keep her diabetics down, because western medicines don’t work for her. Flora stated that the Eastside of Lake Winnipeg must remain relatively unspoiled so that First Nations living in the region can continue to practice their traditional ways and pass them on to future generations.
When Garry Raven was asked why the Eastside is so important for him and what he would like to see there for future generations to come, he stated: “This is the last virgin boreal forest in Manitoba. I want to protect it for everything we need to make our life better, because it’s the land that will heal us: the medicines, the animals, the rives, streams and the lakes. There is a lot of pure water in these lakes that we will need in the future. The Eastside is also a perfect place for humans to learn everything about the boreal forest and how it will help future generations to come.
My vision for that area is to see some kind of a University or a learning centre, where we can balance traditional ecological knowledge and wisdom and western science. We need to teach all people how to take care of this land and what it gives us. We Elders and Pipe Carriers encourage the people of Manitoba and the Government to establish a boreal learning centre as soon as possible, so we can teach people globally how to take care of this beautiful forest and about the importance of working with mother earth and not against her.”
The Anishinaabe spiritual Pipe Carriers used their pipes at the ceremony to ask the creator to help the Anishinaabe to uphold their responsibilities and talk for mother earth and protecting her, as this is the gift we were given by the creator. We as Anishinaabe are not against any kind of economic development but we have to discuss the importance in taking care of the land and respect all life that needs that land to live.
The elders at this Pipe Gathering all agreed on having more Pipe Ceremonies for mother earth and for everything that lives on the Eastside of Lake Winnipeg.
Elder Raven noted that “it is very important that all Manitobans be informed about any future developments and that an inclusive inventory of what is out there on the land must be done so that people know the inherent value of this area that is being proposed for all kinds of future developments. This is an area that all Manitobans are responsible for.