Monday, August 16, 2010

Canadian Roots Trip

Two days ago I arrived back in Halifax from the Canadian Roots trip, a week long trip on which we traveled across Nova Scotia visiting three different aboriginal, Mi'kmaq, reservations. It was an amazing experience, and now that I have had some time to rest and really digest the trip it was even better. The group traveling consisted of 9 "youth", ranging from 19 to over 30 years old, and an employee from Queens who was algonquin and something else which I forget. The group in it self was so diverse, consisting of aboriginal people, jews, catholics, religiously confused, people from Singapore, and lots of experience traveling all over the world.

When visiting the communities I was constantly blown away by the generocity of the hosts/hostess. They always had things planned for us to do, were more then happy to answer our constant borage of questions, and often played games or changed their schedules around to accomodate us. We were fed, housed and toured around. The trip really taught me about the hospitality and generocity of human kind, and how powerful it is to approach one another with open hearts and a smile. It makes all the difference. We are all just trying to find happyness, and its so much easier to do so if we listen to eachother and work together instead of against one another. I can't wait to settle down so that I too may return that favor and be the gracious host that I have been blessed with so many times on my summer adventures.

Now for some things that I observed which perhaps were not so delightful. First of all, being vegan, I was constantly aware of the close relationship that the mi'kmaq people, and aboriginals in general, have with the use of animals. This was constantly difficult for me to face, especially when their reasoning was that the animals give themselves to us to use and/or it is tradition. Not to say that I think they are wrong, I understand their point of view, yet times change. It is also tradition to live in tippees or wooden lodges, yet that does not still occur. So I don't see how the "tradition" excuse can hold, especially when all aboriginal people I met don't just eat responsible hunted meat but also factory farmed chicken, beef, eggs, and milk. I think the ways of the ancestors can be respected without blindly adopting them. It also makes me sad to see the extremely high rate of obesity amongst the aboriginal people. Almost everyone was either overwieght or obese, most likely due to their lack of exercise and diet of refined carbs, meat, and junk food. Although it is not always the peoples fault, since their food access is often mainly junk food, it is definately something that I think needs to be addressed and changed. Everyone drives everywhere in these communities, which is not only detremental to their health but also bad for the environment. Finally, on the whole trip I only met one mi'kmaq person who did not smoke. Again the health.

Now that I have made that extreme rant, please don't interpret it as me saying "looking at how horrible these people are", thats not it at all. Rather, it is me observing and feeling concerned for the health and wellbeing of these beautiful, generous people that I met. During the trip they opened their arms to allow us to participate in a sweat, learn traditional games, attend a pow-wow, help maintain a brook essential to the salmon population, chat, play games, go on nature hikes, learn about traditional medicines, and learn how to make a dream catcher.

Thank you, and if any of them ever come to where I will live one day (currently unknown), I will be more then happy to welcome them and teach them about my culture.

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