Chief’s Letter No. 10

Originally published in the June 12, 2020 edition of Pikwakanagan Tibadjumowin.

Dear Members of Pikwakanagan First Nation,

It has been two weeks since the First Nation businesses opened to the public in Phase One of our re-opening plan. Our entrance checkpoints have been removed during the day and reinstated at night and business hours remain restricted. While the first day of opening was very busy, with a long line to enter the community at the bridge, things have calmed down to a more manageable, yet constant stream of traffic. We owe gratitude to the business owners, their staff, our First Nation administrative staff, and the OPP for ensuring our opening day, and business since then, has been conducted in the safest way possible.

Last week I wrote about the balance between need and greed; the importance of respecting the abundance of Creation by taking only what you need and being grateful for what you have. As a continuation of that discussion, I chose to write about gratitude, generosity and abundance a bit more this week.

At the beginning of COVID-19, there were fears that food and other essential items (need) would become scarce and the issue of hoarding (greed) had to be addressed. Thankfully, the supply chain in most of Ontario was not interrupted and, while we may have waited for deliveries for some items, the essentials for life were never scarce for us here. In addition to material goods, we have had an abundance of generosity and good will during this time. I personally find time every day to recognize and express my gratitude for this abundance. I intend to continue to focus on this after the threat of COVID19 is no more.

I was recently sent a chapter from a book I have now placed on my reading list, “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer, who is from the Potawatomi Nation. The title of the chapter is “Allegiance to Gratitude” and, while the chapter is rich in insight into culture and traditions of gratitude, I thought that her reflections on how gratitude creates abundance and how responsibilities and gifts are “two sides of the same coin” are particularly important. When you are grateful for your gifts, honor your responsibilities, and are generous with the abundance that is created as a result, the days are much more pleasant and balanced. Recognizing and expressing gratitude for the gifts of others is also key to this formula for abundance.

To put this reflection into practice, I am exploring ways we can increase our gratitude for each other and combat lateral violence. Sometimes it is as simple as saying “thank you” and sometimes it is a grander gesture. Either way, expressions of gratitude both large and small have a significant positive impact on our lives and economies.

I ask that you join me in this effort to express gratitude and practice generosity in Pikwakanagan.