Living Hope across Turtle Island
“Pick a stone; hold it in your hand – imagine its feel if you don’t have one nearby – and be reminded of our connections to the earth.” (Robin Hope Galey, Wild Church movement in Calgary) “Take your cup, hold it, give respect and thanks to the water.” (Dorene Bernard, grassroots grandmother, water protector in Kjipuktuk/Halifax)
Grounded in earth and water, the KAIROS network has come together across the continent again this fall to live and to build hope. At the Prairies North gathering in Calgary, we learned that hope is not a feeling but something we practice – a discipline – and that hope is strengthened with each repetition and with each person that joins in. At four points in time, in four regions across the country, we gathered and practiced hope.
People talk of hope in the face of a crisis. The problems are indeed real and so clear in the KAIROS Guelph video In-FUEL-enza. In Halifax at the Atlantic gathering we learned that Nova Scotia has only 3 days worth of food should it ever be cut off from outside sources. And, less than 5% of the province’s forests are over 80 years old compared to 25% in 1958. How do we counter climate change when our forests no longer heal and grow, and our food must be delivered from great distances because the land provides so little?
The answer is in the hope and the change that percolates when people who care gather, learn, share and act. We have long heard, “eat locally.” Lil McPherson takes her passion for food security that much further with a small restaurant chain called The Wooden Monkey that focuses on local, sustainable food. It has become a platform for promoting environmental awareness and sustainable agriculture.
In the 60s, Nina Newington may have been called a tree-hugger. At this year’s gathering, she was introduced as an activist and forest protector. Much work remains, but Nina showed that strong dedication – like camping through the winter on a logging road or opening our minds to all our relations, even endangered lichen – can save a forest.
Our stories are part of the practice of hope. Janice Ross Bone has translated and collected her grandmother’s stories from their original Cree in, “Water, dreams and Treaties: Agnes Ross’ Mémékwésiwak stories and Treaty No. 5.” To hear Janice flow seamlessly from Cree to English and from family story to proclamation of rights leads to new ways of thinking. If three languages were used to negotiate the treaty, why does only one language count for the interpretation now?
Words, pictures, and a song told the story of the diversion of the Churchill River from the perspective of the Interchurch Council on Hydropower. Often touted as a green alternative, hydro power has had devastating effects on great swathes of land and wildlife, not to mention the people who depend on that land and water for their livelihoods. Hope is only built through the sharing of these stories in so many creative ways, like the blue fish stencils on power poles in the Sturgeon Marking Project.
As we packed our virtual backpack for the journey into hope with Dave Saude, we realized we have many ideas, many symbols, many strengths. The journey we are currently on may be “an exodus, without a map” (Sarah Arthurs, Green Exodus in Calgary), but we go on, our packs overflowing with the tools of hope and justice.
All four KAIROS 2022 fall regional gatherings were recorded. The videos will be posted here as soon as they become available.