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Aurora Borealis in a Jar

August 8, 2010

I just returned from a ten-day cultural exchange trip with Canadian Roots,  I’m covered in bug bites and my brain feels a little swollen from absorbing a lot of information in very short period of time.

In a nutshell, twelve people, including myself, visited First Nation communities in Northern Ontario: Temiskaning, Cochrane, Moosonee, MoCreebec, Moose Factory. The group was made up of young people from around Canada with diverse educations and backgrounds, and aboriginal and non-aboriginal. We spoke to leaders in the communities, mayors, and chiefs, in an open and honest dialogue. We discussed food issues, poverty, green initiatives, residential school, traditional knowledge, and much more.

I have hours of tape to transcribe and hopefully a sellable story. It was amazing and what struck me most were the way the leaders had so much hope for the young people to take control and move forward changing things. Traditional culture still survives despite the many denominations still denouncing it as evil. The backlash of residential school is very evident.

It’s also really nice to be surrounded by Anishinabek, since Moosonee is 85% Anishinabek. I visited the tenth annual Cree Hoopfest in Moose Factory and watched some great basketball. It was the first time on the trip were all the young people were together in one spot. And it was great seeing them so excited.

We spent a few night in the Cree Village Eco-Lodge.  It’s an eco friendly dwelling and the highest rated eco-architecture building in North America. Whales come into the James Bay. A few people on the trip caught some glimpses of whales.

On the last night, I sat on the dock looking at the stars. The Northern Lights broke out across the sky. The water rocked the dock. The air was cool.

There are a ton of interesting stories there. The people were friendly and helpful. And I hope our group made a positive impact on the community.

Randy, the chief of MoCreebec, explained that tourism in the area needs to develop visitors and not just tourists. It needs people who are willing to go into and experience the community. This trip was profound in that we shared our knowledge with the each other and with the community. We didn’t travel there to gawk at their poor housing, or question their high rates of suicide. We listened. We absorbed. And now we have to do something with that knowledge.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Eva Rose permalink
    August 8, 2010 5:04 pm


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