Government of Canada


Review panels requesting written files only is preventing a holistic way of knowing Received Nov. 29, 2016

Submitted By: Leslie Stanick January 06, 2017
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I am very interested in participating in the public consultations the Federal government is proposing. As a photographer and artist, as well as educator, I know the power of images to change minds, open hearts and reveal deep truths in ways that words cannot. I am disappointed that the panel is refusing to accept submissions in other formats…formats that will engage participants in visceral, aural and sensory ways. We can talk at length about oil spills, but to see the effects close up on film, to smell the oil on your fingertips, to touch the plants that live in the tidal pools, on on hillsides, or hear the sound of rushing water, awakens our visceral senses, memory, love and presence. Some words, when spoken with deep love, with deep presence, will touch us, but the engagement of the senses is beyond the purview of the mind, and can touch our souls. This is what we need to protect our ecosystems, to truly understand and know what we need to protect and how we need to do it. We need reverence, respect, love and care for our Mother Earth, for all living beings, for the deep tenderness of life, the gift that each breath is. Only when we really feel and sense the breath of a living creature, hear the song in the creek or river that has flowed for thousands of years, known by the ancestors of today’s First Nations, will we be able to feel, in some small measure, the deep connection that the First Nations have with spirit, and the land.

I urge you to allow video and audio presentations, even if just a few minutes in length, to allow the fullness of expression of the need for love and care for our lands, waters, and air, and for all our relations.

I look forward to hearing from you about this matter. at the very least, allow First Nations communities to share through oral tradition, song and drumming. To hold these critical meetings by privileging western written traditions excludes the richness of experience of First Nations leaders, healers, teachers, and communities. It leaves out the sounds and scents, the deep visceral connections we have to our environments through our senses. Please don’t just make this an academic exercise, invite expression in its fullness. Then perhaps, those that are in positions of power may feel the energy and wholeness, the dignity of the First Nations' ways of life.

Starting the sessions with a First Nations prayer, or song, or the sound of orcas breathing, the calls of eagles or loons, the sounds of river water or the tides coming in on the beach…these connect us to our bodies and souls, and to our sense of belonging t this Earth, as one family. We don’t need more academic talk, we need to have experiences of appreciation and valuing our land, water and wildlife, and the histories and traditions of First Nations communities. This is not a discussion about commodities. It is about listening and learning to respect our deeply ravaged and aching Earth…we don’t protect what we don’t love…so I would like to invite you to take some time in the session to invite awareness and love.

Thank you for your consideration of these important and equally valid ways of being, learning and knowing. Even a 5 minute meditation using sound, breath, chant will infuse these consultations with spirit. I urge you to engage First Nations to open every session with prayer, chant and silence. Let's not make this an academic exercise, but one of respect for indigenous ways of knowing.

With deep appreciation,

Roxanne Stanick

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