For those sweet souls who have donated and are now following my gps (http://500daysinthewild.com.nmsrv.com/spot-map/ ) you probably noticed that when I arrived in Stewiacke Nova Scotia last week I suddenly jumped to Halifax and then worked my way back to Stewiacke.
The reason I did this was because of the Shubenacadie River. The proposed Trans Canada trail in Nova Scotia includes a 33 km paddle on the river and the current flows better from Lantz to Stewiake then it does from Stewiacke to Lantz. So that is one reason. The second is because I wanted to paddle it with Keith Julian.
Keith is a father, a son, a husband and a councillor of the Shubenacadie First Nation. Our meeting was organized by filmmaker and this films coproducer Ann Verrall. And until Keith and I met we were both unsure if it was something we both wanted to do. But we met and had a cup of tea and embraced the idea. Our hearts made the decision not our minds. That is what can happen over a cup of tea.
Our meeting and our paddle together yesterday was symbolic of this journey in so many ways. This was the place of first contact. This river is where the French visitors met the ancestral people of this land. The story of Canada begins here.
So a week after we met for tea we met again to paddle the Shubie. The sun was shining as I drove with Keith’s father and the canoe to the old bridge in Lantz. My eye was drawn to the sunlight lighting up red and white beads dangling from the rear view mirror and a medal of St Ann, the saint my grandmother prayed to and whose medal i now wear pinned to my bra over my heart on this journey. My smile grew wider.
With each stroke in the water we both felt a connection to the past. We talked about the environment, the need to protect that which sustains life. We talked about mother earth.
And we enjoyed the quiet gaze of a deer, the sound of duck wings in flight off the water, curious musk rats and a shared connection to this land.
The Mi’kmaq don’t have a word in their language for forgiveness. Instead they say, “apiksiktuaqn’ which means, making things right. And not just with people, but with birds, animals, fish, trees, water, all living things.
It is not enough to say sorry when 150 aboriginal communities in Canada still do not have safe drinking water. It is not enough to say sorry when 1200 of our aboriginal sisters have been murdered or are missing. It is time to make things right: it is time for ‘apiksiktuaqn’.