Humber’s Indigenous Education and Engagement department held its annual knowledge gatherings over the past week, live streaming them on both Zoom and Facebook, telling stories of how the past can fix problems today.
The event opened with a presentation on Nov. 16 of “The Dish With One Spoon” by Rick Hill and Dan Longboat.
Hill, from the Beaver Clan of the Tuscarora Nation, and Longboat, from the Turtle Clan of the Mohawk Territory, say the focus of The Dish was on how humanity should treat nature for our own well-being and sustainability.
“If you think of the earth as kind of a mound, and you turn the mound over, what’s inside there?” Hill asked. “In Dish, it holds all that stuff we need to sustain ourselves.”
The rules for The Dish include taking what only is needed, saving some for others, and keeping the dish clean, simply because it’s not known what or how much will be needed in the future, especially during this year with the pandemic.
“The knowledge that you’re gaining and the things that you’re listening to are a really unique opportunity,” said Longboat, a professor at the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent University. “It’s that mental and ‘heart knowledge’ that when they conjoin, that’s the real meaning of truth.”
Hill, an Indigenous Innovations Specialist at Mohawk College, said the concept of The Dish can teach people a lot about the future, and how society approaches it.
“We as human beings are the only thing that has the opportunity for free will,” Longboat said.
The event’s keynote presented on Nov. 18 by Shayla Oulette Stonechild and Sunshine Quem Tenasco was titled Indigenous Matriarchs Rising.
Stonechild, a Plains Cree woman from Muscowpetung First Nations, leads the Matriarch Movement, which focuses on empowering Indigenous women as well as focusing attention on the crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
“When we look at ‘Matriarchs Rising’, we have to look at our creation stories,” Stonechild said. “Our creation stories weave into our individual stories. You can’t have one over the other.”
Tenasco is Anishnabe and founder of Her Braids, which helps Indigenous communities fight for clean water, as well as Pow Wow Pitch, which raises awareness and supports Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
Showcasing Indigenous culture and teachings is more than just checking a box on a demographic scorecard, said Joshua Seright, a dean of the Indigenous Education and Engagement department at Humber College. It is an opportunity to share wisdom.
“As human beings, we are all Indigenous,” he said. “We’re all connected.”