Clifford Mushquash, Anishinaabe from Pawgwasheen

Image of Clifford Mushquash. Text: KAIROS Climate Action Month. Clifford Mushquash, Pawgwasheen. Hashtag Decolonize Climate Action

Meet Clifford Mushquash, Anishinaabe from Pawgwasheeng (Pays Plat First Nation) on the northshore of GichiGami (Lake Superior). Clifford is currently completing a Masters in Public Health with a Specialization in Indigenous and Northern Health at Lakehead University. He is committed to advancing social justice for Indigenous and LGBTQ2+ persons in Canada by facilitating opportunities for conversation, learning, relationship building, and service. Clifford has been a KAIROS Blanket Exercise facilitator since 2018 and has journeyed alongside more than 2,000 participants through 40 exercises. 

About how Indigenous cultural and traditional knowledge can inform climate justice work, Clifford writes:  

“As an Anishinaabe, I understand life, health, and wellbeing as an intricate balance between the physical, spiritual, and environmental realms. When one realm is out of balance, so are the others. Because Anishinaabe people are physically and spiritually connected to Aki (earth) and Nibi (water) we see ourselves as extensions of aki and nibi; therefore, when the Aki and Nibi hurt because of environmental degradation, so do the bodies and spirits of the Anishinaabe. We care for the land, water, and air as Anishinaabe by following the teachings of our grandfathers, and honouring the spirits as our ancestors.”  

In his video, he urges to us imagine what climate policy and action would look like, if government and decision makers saw themselves as extensions of the land.  

“For the Anishinnaabe, we understand ourselves to be extensions of the land and the land to be a part of us. I think when we see ourselves in the environment and see the environment in ourselves, decisions take by government and industry will produce policy and action that not only prioritise environmental protection and mitigate the effects of climate change, but these decisions and these actions will also improve the health of all people on Turtle Island.”  

Clifford has compiled the following directory of resources: Understanding Colonization on Turtle Island: Resources to Assist in understanding the past and bettering the future   

Watch Clifford’s brief video. 

Filed in: Ecological Justice, Indigenous Rights

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