Strength of the Indigena ~ Idle No More


One of our frequent conversations of late has been about the process of ‘taking action’, and in particular, about circumstances and situations that make it more likely to take place.

Sometimes it’s on the practical level for us – ‘How do you get a student to complete an assignment?’… but more often it’s about political and social action.  The Idle No More movement has been front and centre of these discussions for the past several months.  And what has struck both of us is the degree to which the strength and volume of Aboriginal voices in Canada has increased.  They are the brave ones — speaking out against resource exploitation, against injustice, against violence against women, against poverty.  In doing so, their voices have inspired many Canadians that have previously been too quiet against government policies that hold us back from a just and compassionate society.  Myself included.

I was in awe of the Cree walkers who walked from James Bay, Quebec to Parliament Hill in Ottawa as part of their “Journey of Nishiyuu (the People)”.  These teenagers that have taken direct action in order to spread their message through peaceful passive resistance, and have found hope and determination through their own agency.  Teenagers have immense power to inspire and initiate change.. it’s such a beautiful thing to see this in action.

This morning I was thinking back to some of our travels, much of which has been through Latin America, and within many indigenous communities.  I think of the three little girls in the image from a small Mexican pueblo outside of San Cristobal de las Casas.  We spent the afternoon watching them play and laugh together, yet after I saw the photograph, I was struck by the intensity of their stares.  Such young children, yet in their eyes, there is immense weight and heaviness.  It would be easy to attribute this severity with sadness, but I think that’s too simple.  Those eyes also represent immense strength ~ a determination, resiliency and character.

The strength of Indigenous peoples. So often goes unrecognized.

We are in a time where we need people to take intelligent, thoughtful action.  We need people to become active, informed citizens. The time to sit back and complain about how nothing ever changes, ‘the government never listens’, and ‘those damn corporations’ is past.

The time to Idle No More is for everyone.  Let’s take the example that’s been set for us by these dedicated individuals and other grassroots organizations and move forward.  In this way, we can work towards a vision of a just, ethical and caring society that we can be proud of.

CBC Link to Cree Teenagers Supporting Idle No More


San Blas Islands ~ Kuna Yala


Sometimes the rain in Vancouver just seems endless.. grey, dreary days where the moist air chills you to the bone.  Those are the days that I inevitably end up googling “Best Beaches in the World” and start planning imaginary vacations.

Over the years, one of the places that kept popping up on these lists were the San Blas Islands, or Kuna Yala – home of the Kuna people.  It’s an archipelago of 378 islands and keys in the Carribean Sea, located just off the northcoast of Panama. The Kuna people have governed the area autonomously since the 1920s, and maintain their own language, economic system and cultural traditions in the area.  They are currently one of the only indigenous groups in the world to maintain self-governance over their land.

SanBlas-2These incredible beaches just seemed to good to be true – a boat trip through these tropical islands just seemed like one of those journeys that couldn’t be missed.  And so last July,  Daryl and I planned a trip to Panama and Colombia to check them out.

We arrived in Panama City and booked a 4 day trip with Darien Gapster to travel through the islands by speedboat, camp on deserted islands, and sleep in hammocks in indigenous villages..

Our trip was incredible… we met amazing people, ate delicious crab and lobster each night, and island hopped through coral reefs and deserted beaches.

Here’s a link to a Youtube video clip, in case this is a trip you’ve been dreaming of as well…