Blog posted by April Weppler, Engagement Coordinator, Healthy Great Lakes
The weekend before Truth and Reconciliation Week was to begin, I gave myself a homework assignment – to go for a walk in the woods, and just listen. Leave my chatty kids at home, leave my headphones and podcasts in the car, and head out with only the sounds of the water, wind, and trees.
I consider myself to be very early in my personal journey towards Truth and Reconciliation; I am still very much learning through listening. I listen carefully to the words and stories of Indigenous water knowledge keepers with whom I am honoured to be able to work. I listen to the insights of settlers who are further along their Reconciliation journeys. And one of the many messages I keep hearing is to engage with nature in a different way – to appreciate its spirit, to see trees and water and plants as beings in their own right. And while I’ve always been in awe of nature and sought joy in the woods and near water, I have to admit I’m instinctively uncomfortable referring to water as “she” and thinking of water as having its own spirit. Something about my Western science education resists the notion and the language.
So, on my weekend walk in the woods, I sat by the river and listened. I walked through the trees and listened. And while I won’t pretend to have gained deep insights in those brief hours, I did feel my resistance loosen. I have deep respect for Two-Eyed Seeing and humbly hope I can see with both eyes one day.
Finally, I’ll add that I am so very grateful to Indigenous friends and colleagues who continue to share their stories, continue to show up with patience and grace, continue to teach – I see how much energy this takes, and I’m so grateful to you. I promise to keep listening and to seek opportunities to make space for your stories to be elevated and amplified, so more people can hear you.