A thank you to my sisters, those feminine spirits, regardless of their parts, who hold their fellow sisters high and remind us of our better natures. Nia:wen (nya. Wen). Miigwitch. tshinashkumitin (shin-ash-coo-mah-tin). Naqurmiik. (Nak-urm-eek). Wela’lin (well. Law. Lynn.)
If I could speak the languages of all your mother tongues, I would tell you that I thank you for the support you give in your communities. Noticing when another needs some love or care and offering that love through food. Through words. Through medicines, sharing, and personal wisdom. Through being the nutrients that nourishes the world around them. You harness the energy of light and carry within your extremities gifts you may not even fully appreciate until they are consumed. To those sisters who haven’t yet learned that success is only true if we are all succeeding, that a tree without a forest cannot stand, that our sisters are our roots who help ground us to our reality, and that roots communicate to share their plenty, sending water and nutrients to those around them, helping new life to grow so that we can all make it through, taller ones shading those who still burn in the sun, and listening to the beat that flows through the water in our veins and the music of our hearts. I know you sometimes feel jealousy and pain that your foliage is not as tall or straight or green, and that this manifests itself in ways that you can not always control. Remember that you are strong. You are beautiful. That flowers will bloom and leaves will bud and fall, even if the fruit is not ready to bear. You have made it through this far despite the storms that have passed, ripping you from your place, time and time again. Your roots will weather this disruption once more and re-balance each time so that what grows above in the coming years is more hearty and able to survive the future. More able to tolerate the fruits only pain, growth, and stability can provide. And the fruit may not be sweet this year, too bitter and withered for human eyes, but remember that the sweetest fruit can bloom full once again, with proper care and soil. I pray that you can join a network of roots who will support you when you’ve fallen. Who will nourish you in your growth, and share the song in your heart and the beat in the water that flows within you. That you remember that the crooked trees are the best to mark the way, and can still grow to full peak despite bends formed in all directions. That they can still thrive through rocks or soil determined to keep them down.
A thank you to the grandmothers and grandfathers, aunties and uncles. The Elders who carry wisdom and ways of life that would otherwise be forgotten. And to those who bore the worst burden of our community’s pain. To those who made it through, despite the stack of time against them. And those who suffered some times violently from legacies of winds and shifts who sought to erase their very being, remoulded them to shapes barely recognizable in their new form. To those who faced the depth of those scars from their own family members or community, and have carved those lessons into the next generations through their fiery rage, I hear the shame you sometimes feel, and want you to know that it is not yours to bear alone. You cannot unmove the stone that has been turned, but you have the ability to hold up the land by your very being. The resilience to make it through. To be the strength of the world as many step upon your back. The blood memory of your ancestors that you have formed into your kin. Ages of pressure pushing against you to the point of volcanic explosion, the truth of the depths and violence sometimes spewing out from down below, but in the process, new continents will grow ideas that can flourish once the heat subsides. I thank you for the sacrifice you took so that we could make it through the landslides that nearly erased us off the map, so that we could still know our stories by the valleys carved into your backs. I pray that the wind and pressure does not break you but rather shapes more stable platforms where we can plant new seeds that have absorbed the wisdom of your soils through time, so that we may all survive the coming winds and that we recognize and respect its effect on you by the lines drawn in your surface.
To the brothers, those masculine spirits made up of many minerals in many different ways, rocks that are living and full of spirit, despite their tough exterior, who stand against the crashing waves, day after day, I see your goodness and minerals worn down to sand and spread across a million miles of polluted oceans. I know the shell you may have created to protect you from the emotions that feel as if they could break you if you let them in, a small crack that could soon lead to shatter. That everyone depends on you, needs you to stand strong when you are tired. And that expectations have been put on you to be of a certain composition. That boys don’t cry, or so some have been told, but know that tears are sometimes the medicine your body knows to take and that when it flows freely, it’s telling you that you have missed your last dosage. That sometimes the rocks may break, but that they can form the moon if given atmosphere to breathe. The burden can seem overwhelming, but know that I have seen the soft sides you give when we are all alone. The vulnerability you show when you have the trust of the waters that will not judge your jagged shape, but smooth your sides through hearing your cries. I see the value of the place where the water resides, inside you, waiting to find it’s way out. These are not flaws. You do not have to hide it in your core. Softer parts deep inside sometimes form the gems that shines the brightest when cracked under pressure. Know that you are good enough and that you don’t have to prove your worth to those who would crack you open in greed and value only the part of you that they feel worthy. That I see your strength and softness and love both equally when they appear. I pray that you are able to find peace, in peace. That the scattered pieces of you find their way across the ocean to one day form a new whole. That you can lean on the sands beside you, building strength in numbers formed together over time, each grain unique and capable of building beauty for larger purpose.
To those who have the spirits of the world combined in ways that don’t make sense to the turn of the regular seasons. Know that the spirits of all those before lay inside us all, but that some are too afraid to hear. Sometimes we live in times of ice or fire, move into new eras of greatness and wane, but that slight variation of normality can be the bridge that previously couldn’t be passed. You are never understood in your own time, often seen as something different, to be feared because a lack of understanding of your direction. Only seen in history as the push necessary for the evolution of our souls and not appreciated until the full results are revealed. I pray that you are seen not as a destruction of the norm, but a reminder that sometimes it takes others getting wet before one can walk across the water, and that we can’t all be blessed with your holy gifts. That you see that you are necessary to disrupt the lull and that you will be loved and valued in time as the force that ensures creativity is never stifled. That someone will see your value and your worth, even if it seems only eternity is on your side.
To the Ancestors, the wind that blows across us gently, and whispers to us when we think we are alone. To the animals that call to us or come when we most need them. I hear your words and try to make sense of their scrambled messages that reveals to us what’s coming before it is too late. Who guide us on our journey and takes pride in helping us move in new ways, even when we can’t always see your grand design. I pray we follow your speed and the direction you push us, even when it’s tough to steer our sails and trust the waves are there for us to follow, if only we can read the signs.
I thank the seeds of the next generations. The young ones who wait in the cold soil until the spring when a new day will dawn. They will tell our stories, as we whisper the winds into their dreams. I pray we have leveled the ground beneath their feet, and nurtured the soils that feed their souls. And that we have done enough to root them in our grandfathers so that they can grow tall and strong, that they can know the beat inside their heart and the water that pumps through every vessel in their bodies, cleansing their souls with each breathe.
I thank the pieces of this world, this land, and all of those who’ve shaped it. I thank the nutrients of the soil, the foods, and the waters that give us life.
I thank the new steps on each shore for the lessons they teach, for those who don’t know the seasons of this climate, but respect those who have stepped here first and keep their sacred commitment to hear the grandfathers’ ways, those who listen to the lessons of the many seasons that came before. I pray that they take the time to learn each quay or coast, each line that tells a history fossilized in time for their education. I pray they can remember that they were given two ears and only one mouth for a reason, and that they listen twice as hard. That they follow the contours of the land and path that lay before them, instead of blazing their way through. I pray that they see that these ways, are all our ways, separated in the far directions and some more lost to their way home. That they are Indigenous somewhere and must read the land to hear its truth. I pray that they can find their roots and share in the bounty that our mothers’ provide.
I thank this legacy that I may not fully understand and recognize, or always articulate in clear ways, that no matter how long I learn, there’s always a new teacher behind every mountain and to be humbled by the lessons that I may not see until I clear the peak.
Nia:wen. Miigwitch. Thank you… For this gratitude that keeps me whole. For the earth that keeps on spinning, for the sun and the moon in the sky, and the water that still pumps deep inside my veins. Today, I am still alive, and I am grateful for this day.