Listening to All My Relations
First Nations relationships fully embrace the notion that people and their families are strongly connected to the communities they live in, their ancestors and future descendants, the land they live on, the plants, animals and other creatures that live upon it. They know they are stewards of the Earth and have traditionally lived in harmony with their environment for a millennium.
Their traditional practices boast amazing sustainability, ecological awareness and knowledge, and a strong scientific understanding of the Earth, weather, cycles of the seasons, medicinal and food sources, marine foods and harvesting, and creating everything they need from nature’s bounty. Before colonization, these practices and systems worked perfectly and in harmony with the world around them. They left a very light footprint upon Mother Earth.
The philosophy and practice of “All My Relations” set by Indigenous peoples can teach a lot about relating to every living being around them. When we take the time to really ‘be’, we utilize our inner knowing to sense deep levels of understanding. Listening attentively and respectfully to what others say, allows us to ‘know’ them better with much more than our rationale minds. This helps us to engage with others in holistic and meaningful ways that support health and well-being. This also allows us to accept that people are where they are and not necessarily where we are. However, by going further and regarding them as people who are genuinely connected to us, we go even deeper to feel the inner essence of the person. It is this deep connection that serves as the foundation of relationship with our world, supported by interconnected knowing.
The interconnected relationship with all living things is called the Sacred Circle of Life. First Nations teachings guide us to show respect for all within this Sacred Circle. An intense and deep connectedness with all that surrounds us is a foundational concept of First Nations philosophy. This includes a connection to Mother Earth and all that walks, swims, flies and grows on and about her, all of the plant beings, our two and four legged brothers and sisters, the crawlers, finned and flying beings, and ultimately the Great Spirit that animates all. We are all one and Earth is our mother. It is our duty to care for her as she cares for us.
By Connor Sarazin, KAIROS Blanket Exercise Communications & Partnerships Coordinator. Connor is a member of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation
Painting: Remember the Ancestors, by Connor Sarazin