Reminder of the Failure to Address All My Relations

Elder Jim Dumont closing a special session at Queen's Park devoted to response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He subtly chides all the speakers (through the use of an all-inclusive "we") for overlooking relations that also matter…

Even those things that we fail to mention are a reminder to us that all those that we ask must be wondering why we never talked about them. We didn’t say anything about the animals. We didn’t say anything about the vegetation, the grass and flowers. We didn’t say anything about the rocks, the minerals. We didn’t say anything about the trees when we talked here together.

The absence of that really stands out to the spirit. So it must be telling us that we need to consider those things, because we know that if anything ever happens—that there are no longer any medicines flowing, and that something happens so that the food that grows up from the earth is not edible any more—kindness will disappear from the earth. We will not know how to care about one another. If anything happens that we cut down all the trees, truth and honesty will be gone amongst us. If anything ever happens to the animals, we will lose our ability to share with one another. If anything ever happens to the rocks and the minerals, as it is happening in this country, the very strength that we need to live our life and to live up to the things that we believe in, that strength will be gone.

We need to make that connection in everything that we do. At the end of whatever we’re speaking about, whatever we’re gathered together about, we always say “all my relatives.” When we say that, what we’re saying to all of our relations in this creation as well as our human relations: “We are all related to one another and I will include you in my words. I will include you in my thoughts. I will include you in the decisions that I make.”

We end in that way, asking the spirit to continue to bless us with life and letting all of our relations know that we have considered them and we have been noticed by them.

Remarks in Indigenous language.
An eloquent reminder of interconnectedness. Even the staunch materialist who could not care one whit about blessings from the spirit will recognize a duty of care to the environment that sustains life: kindness will disappear from the earth should something happen so that the food the grows up from the earth is not edible any more.

And so for day 1732