Saturday, September 29, 2012

Today is D day! 100 thousand poets for change!

Today is D Day! i am honoured to be a part of the movement for change by participating in the yearly global event, '100 Thousand Poets and musicians for Change'. With over 700 events in 112 participating countries this event is geared towards creating conscious awareness within the context of peace and sustainability; the stimulus needed for the change we seek.

This initiative aims to promote social, environmental and economical change through poetry and music...

the Antigonish poets will be sharing their own poetry along with favorite poems from around the world today from 11am to 1pm at the antigonish farmers market!
this will be my contribution:
Why Should I?
Why should I
walk a straight line
and into a  box
when my heart tells me to
                                         and fly 
to the beat of
my own natural
earth quenching rhythms
Why should I bother
what others say, think, feel   
when my heart tells me
to live like its’ my final hour
like it’s the last month of
my full moon beauty
 my season to bloom
and sprout hummingbird
Why should i
forget about those around me
the young child a day-plane  away
who sits in fear of  
ancestral grounds burnt,
mothers and fathers murdered,   
brothers kidnapped into the bush   
When my heart says to  
embrace the sorrow
as if its’ my own extended sadness
Why should i
move as though
the earth is not dying,
as though there is
no other generation
to come but mine,
deny the great unraveliing,
beleive in a bottomless food source
tied up in pretty packaging
When all i want to do
is cry for our Mother Earth
get on my knees
and say sorry for the millionth tme
When all i want to do
is yell from the bottom
of my ignorance
wake up me!
wake up you!
Why should I
get tangled in my own
when my heart tells me to 
speak  the  words of alliance
tame this privileged mind  
be more then what history predicts
undo the colonial teachings
Why should I
ask for more and more
when what I have is enough
and my heart is begging me
to be still
and breath
so the beating of my heart hurts no one

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Native Perspective

 Author Cathy Gerrior in the Guatemalan highlands. (Grahame Russell photo)

i am posting a letter my dear friend, sister, mentor wrote after returning from her journey to Guatemala. Cathy shares with us the atrocities Canadian mining companies are reaping against First Nation People and sacred earth of Guatemala. You can also find this article at


By Cathy Gerrior,, August 1, 2012

my spirit name is white turtle woman and i am a Mi'kmaq Elder and Ceremony Keeper from Turtle Island. i was given an opportunity to visit Guatemala by a group called Breaking the Silence. This is an organization who works towards justice and fair treatment of the Mayan People in Guatemala.

We joined a delegation in Guatemala led by Grahame Russell with the Rights Action group to learn the truth about the Canadian Mining Companies and what they are doing to our Mayan brothers and sisters in Latin America. Grahame was very thorough in his teachings around this issue. At one point i asked him if this work was his passion. He thought about it for a moment and replied, "No. It's my social responsibility."
It is majestic and deceptive to drive through the countryside of Guatemala with its volcanoes, and seemingly endless food and natural resources. It is shocking to learn that the Native people of Guatemala were forcibly evicted from their traditional lands so that all this could be produced for the sole benefit of Canada and the United States, and that the Mayan People are forced to work the fields during harvest for about $2 dollars per day.

i watched in wonder as i saw corn growing up and down the mountainsides and learned that that is the crop of the Mayan People - corn and beans. They use all their land to sustain themselves and their families. Some also have some livestock - often chickens and pigs which have free reign to move about naturally. i noticed goats and a few cows, who were more confined. The effort it must take to plant and harvest these crops on such steep terrain. i heard that they tie themselves to a sturdy tree to rock in order to navigate the steepness. i frequently saw them walking along the side of the highway carrying their hoes or hauling their firewood on their backs. Even the children were carrying their own loads of firewood.
It was both beautiful and sad to see this, especially once the realities of what is happening to the People was revealed when we reached our destinations.
We first visited the communities of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayumpac where they are blockading the mine entrance to Radius Gold. It was reminiscent of blockades here on Turtle Island.
The People standing together and saying NO to violations against Mother Earth, families, and communities. They take this stand at the risk of being shot (with no consequences to the shooter) because their traditional lands are all they have to support themselves and their next generations.
The mining companies trick their way into communities and then seem to stop at nothing in order to begin reaping obscene profits at the expense of the Native people and Mother Earth. i saluted the Mayan communities for their commitment to what is right in the traditional way of our People.
In San Rafael las Flores i listened to, (whom i saw as a natural leader), a man named Oscar Morales who said, "We are farmers. What did we know about mining? We had no idea that what they were telling us was all lies." He is educating himself now and arming himself with facts and truths about the different layers of ugliness that these mining companies create and inflict, in an attempt to protect their lands and communities. i pray often Oscar, that you are successful.
In El Estor, we met two sisters who are fighting a nickel mining company. The husband of one of the sisters was murdered by the company for resisting them and both have a brother in prison on trumped up charges for doing the same thing. They do what they can to help a young man in their community who was shot and paralysed by company men.
With some assistance from a friend who was also an interpreter, we were honored to perform a Healing Ceremony on these women to give them the strength to continue their fight. i understand that they are filing civil suits in Canada to try to get a measure of justice for the harms and violations inflicted on them by employees of the mining company. i promised them i'd come back and ask the people here on Turtle Island to pray for them and their cause. i ask all who read this to join me in these prayers.
We went to a cemetery where they are exhuming bodies from mass graves of the "Disappeared People." Often women and children, but also those who were 'detained' over different periods of time. There are so many, dating back to the seventies; perhaps beyond. They were 'detained' for different reasons, but none of them legitimately. No trials were ever held and if i understand correctly, no charges were ever even filed against them. Their pictures are plastered everywhere, both in the cemetery and in the cities, placed hopefully and lovingly by the families looking for their loved ones.
i struggled with this the most. i was moved to do Ceremony at that place, speaking to the Ancestors specifically to the issue of, Truth. Memory. Justice. Grahame used those words frequently throughout the week we were together, and i will carry those very words with me always.
We travelled to mining communities closer to the Goldcorp mine where a Health Tribunal was being held for the people to come together to tell their stories to 'the world' and in some measure, hold the mining companies accountable for the atrocities being inflicted on the Mayan People in the name of 'Progress' but which really boils down to obscene profits for Canadian mining companies in operation in Latin America.

San Miguel Ixtahuacan. There we met Florencio Yoc who is being forced to protect himself and his land, sometimes by even his own family, from being unlawfully sold to the mining company. His land contains a natural spring that provides life-giving water to his and several other families living near him.We met Diodora who was shot in the head by mining company employees because she refused to sell her land. She is now mostly alone and lonely due to the fear and community conflict created by Goldcorp. Still, she resists, doing what she knows to be right and living as best she can, which was once in harmony on Mother Earth. You are also in my prayers Diodora. i will never forget you.

Lastly, we attended part of the first day of the Health Tribunal. Goldcorp was found guilty of violations to both Mother Earth and to the Mayan People who are unfortunate enough to eke out their living on land rich in precious metals that mining companies covet.From my conversations with these amazing people, they too believe that the taking of these metals that belong in the Earth creates an imbalance that negatively impacts all life on earth. They are deep in Mother Earth for a reason and that ravaging the earth for these metals unleashes things that we do not understand but are all negatively impacted by.
Is mining for precious metals evil? That answer has not been revealed to me. i believe though that mining in the way that these Canadian gold mining companies choose to mine, with total disregard to human life, rights and responsibilities, and at the expense of Mother Earth and all who dwell on her, for mere profits is, at the very least, blind greed. You judge the rest.
Please educate yourself. Then do something. It is all very devastatingly familiar. "Do what you know to be right" (The Ten Indian Commandments).
That is all i have to say.
Um Set Nogama (spelled like it sounds rather that true spelling). It means, "All my Relations."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Keeping Peace in the Coady Agenda

Keeping Peace in the Coady Agenda

 Dear Coady Friends,

After listening and sharing space with Michael Edwards and the Coady  family  at a discussion on transformation, I recognized immediately a deep connection to the work Dr. Turay, Sr. Joanne, and recently I have been engaged in through the Community Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding course. Edwards spoke passionately about personal transformation and the need to integrate this more fully into the political, environmental, social, spiritual and ‘development’ realms of our global systems; a need to re-examine and reflect on personal and social transformation within a development, education, and leadership context. I believe facilitating a more integral process of self- reflection and awareness helps leaders find the courage to explore our own interior landscapes and identify habitual, and often oppressive patterns and behaviors. This I believe is a direct path from personal to social transformation. I believe the quality of our relationships with ourselves, one another, and the environment is key to the transformative leadership I believe Edwards is speaking about. I believe building cultures of peace will depend on how we build relationships with one another, the environment, and the non-human worlds around us.

 In 2008 I had the privilege of participating in the Community Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding Certificate program. We, the participants were offered new ways of examining, defining, relating, and conceptualizing peace and conflict. First and foremost we began with ourselves, and then reached out to our families, communities, organizations, countries, regions, and the world. It was in the redefining of peace that we began to transform or own understanding of ‘peacebuilding’ and recognized that in order to build intra family/community/organizational/global peace, we must first and foremost build intra personal peace.   

For the past 15 years I have been working in the field of personal and community empowerment within Canada and the Caribbean. After being a participant in the Community Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding Certificate Course I realized how deeply connected I was to the work of building cultures of peace starting from the inside out. I witnessed not only my own transformative paths widening, but also the transformative paths of my fellow peace participants. For example a participant from Sudan voiced passionately at the end of the course that his major learning reflected his own understanding of violence on a personal, family, and community level. He spoke of waking up to the violence within his own family and how this affected his wife and children. He spoke of identifying and recognizing the cycle of violence that was present in his own mind and the minds of other men within his community and how this impacted the women and children in their community. He recognized the cycle of violence perpetuated by male dominant structures and systems that lived within his own attitude, behaviour, culture, religion, society and world on a whole. He voiced that in order to understand the work that he was engaged in as a peacekeeper within the Sudanese government he needed to broaden his perspective of peace to include the personal, family, and community.

I witnessed participants (myself included) moving into a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of peace and the environment, broadening our definition of peace, self, community to include the environment and non-human world. As Edwards pointed out in his presentation, the devastating effects of climate change is affecting all of us world-wide forcing us to work together, to build right relations, to rethink what we call ‘development’, and recommit to transformative ways of being and seeing the world. One of the larger questions looming inside my head these days is how do we build cultures of peace that enable / facilitate local and global communities to work together in understanding and transforming our ways of seeing and being on the Earth? And how do we integrate the crucial need for us as leaders to transform our own deeply ingrained thought patterns and behaviors to encompass a more personal, intimate, and critical view of ourselves, families, communities, organizations, schools, environment and world and then how do we act on this? I recognize that these and many more questions are addressed in the many courses offered through the Coady Institute and I now recognize and understand more clearly how the Community Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding course builds further on these crucial themes of personal and social transformation in the context of community development, leadership, and education. 

After sharing space with Edwards and the Coady family I realize the work Dr. Turay started and the work I find myself passionately engaged in is vital to making a leap to a more spiritual/social/environmental/ economic/ political consciousness that transforms oppressive systems and structures that are clearly and tragically problematic to all of us, and to the very environment that gives us life. I therefor write this letter in hopes of       keeping and promoting peace education as a more substantial part of the Coady agenda.


Maureen St. Clair