First Voices! First Women Speak! 2012 Gathering

The First Voices! First Women Speak! teach-in and community gathering was hosted by both Kairos Canada and IPSMO on August 24, 2012 at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre.  Over 100 peoples attended this gathering to learn and share teachings with one another.

We were very honoured to have with us renowned indigenous writers and artists Lee Maracle and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, as well as strong Anishinaabekwe Claudette Commanda, Viola Thomas, Vera Wabegijig and Moe Clark. This event was full of positive energy! No only did we have powerful and inspiring talks but also incredible poems, spoken word performances, traditional men’s drumming, a round dance and food!

Lee Maracle inspired many of us to reflect on our relationship with the Earth, with other living beings, and with each other, as well as our responsibilities as PEOPLE. The solution to ending all forms of violence, to stop all the destruction to the Earth, to the waters and consequently to our bodies, minds, emotions and spirituality, is quite simple Lee said; “RECONNECT to the land!”. How can we put this simple solution into practice in our everyday lives under the pervasive forces of colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy? Lee provided us with very good advice.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson told us a story of berry picking with Elders. This story told us we need to constantly be looking back, reading our landscapes. By knowing our landscapes, we know where we are going. This story reminded us what Elders often say: that we have to know where we come from in order to know where we are going.

Leanne also reminded us that another world is possible and that we already have the tools to bring that world into reality. The colonial society has constructed race, gender and sexuality that have imprisoned us for over 500 years. However, we absolutely have the power to rebuild our nations from the inside out, to be liberated from these imprisonments, to know who we are and act as sovereign beings. This is what generations of Indigenous women have been doing for centuries.

This event was important in the way it empowered us to create change. We would like to pass on what was shared and discussed with those who could not be at the event, and continue generating ideas about how we can reconnect to the land and transform our relationships with all our relations.

We had 4 small group responses and discussions after Lee’s lecture. The notes from these small circles is available here.

If you would like to share your thoughts after watching the videos of our speakers that are posted below (Thanks Josee for filming!), please leave us a reply at the end of the page – help us keep this discussion going!

We also would like to thank the Odawa Native Friendship Centre, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), OPIRG-Carleton (the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at Carleton University), Quakers, Project of Heart, Amnesty International Canada, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative and Arbeiter Ring Publishing for their support in making this event possible!

Lee Maracle: Connection between Violence against the Earth and Violence againt Women

Vera Wabegijig, A Wild Rice Dream poetry reading

Leanne Simpson’s Book Launch: Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence 

Moe Clark: Poetic Transformation

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