I recently read a book by Richard Wagamese, entitled “For Joshua”. Richard is an Ojibway author who was cut off from his native roots at a young age and who struggled to find his identity and to understand his self-worth. He became a celebrated author but still wrestled with addictions and lost touch with his young child. In this book, he seeks to teach his son, in absentia, by entwining stories of his native people with an account of his own treacherous journey to self-knowledge. His reconnection with his Ojibway heritage and teachings give him (and us) a new appreciation for the land we all live in.
He touches on many truths that make his biography a very compelling read. I share a couple of his quotes here that resonate with me on Earth Day: “When we stand upon the land, even now, even with all of the changes that have scarred it, marred it, and made it less pure, we can feel the eternal connection that exists for us when our hearts are open. The sense of oneness that happens, the feeling of connection, is a result of hearts in tune with the land—resonating with each change, thrumming with the energy of its ongoing creation, tingling with expectancy at the wonders of each new season.”
“Canada is not a nation first. It is people. It is the feeling of the land. And it’s the feeling of the people on the people on the land for the land. Not only those of us who were here first, who are native to it, but everyone. There aren’t many people in any part of Canada that don’t love the country for itself. You won’t have to travel far to find people who love it for the plains, the mountains, the muskeg, lakes, rivers, marshes, tidal bores, glaciers, estuaries, deltas, and seas.”
I am an immigrant to Canada and have lived here for much of my life. I too feel a deep bond with its lands and waters, furthered by my choice of career as a biologist and agrologist. I can also say that I have the same kinds of feelings when I visit other places. Through careful watching, listening and reflection we can see, hear and create new connections and healing with both people and the Earth.