First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March: A Reflection

Peter Clay
First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March participants

WHAT RESONATES FOR ME as the central experience of the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March? Broken relationships and beginning to learn what is required to move into healing.

The deepening of existing friendships and the beginning of new friendships across the divide was part of my experience on the march. I am very grateful for these friendships. But let us not underestimate what is now required of us. While it is essential for the descendants of settler-colonists and indigenous peoples to examine together how the destruction and violence caused by colonization and empire continue today, harming all of us, the work is very hard.

After the march, I was left with awareness that true healing will require much more of all of us than we may even be able to imagine, from the place where we are today.

I accept that for humans to again understand the interdependence of all beings, of all life on Mother Earth, healing the broken relationships among the peoples of the Earth is essential. There is much consideration today of what decolonization, including decolonizing our minds, looks like. As I walked, I saw how the implicit bias of our colonized minds denigrates and tokenizes the achievements, culture, and even the creation stories of indigenous peoples. Today, the elimination of indigenous peoples from the landscape of what they call Turtle Island continues in numerous ways. The violence continues, reproduced and replicated over and over and over again. This is simply unacknowledged by the overwhelming majority of those of us who are the descendants of those who came from Europe. It was our relatives who brutalized the indigenous peoples living here, who used violence to steal their traditional lands from them and who stripped the people of many nations of their very identities, including their language, their spirituality, and their agency to still be truly sovereign in the place of their ancestors.

How can all of us living today even begin to heal from such brutality and savagery? It is a mistake to minimize the difficult and painful path before all of us. Was this March part of the way forward? I think so, but it is, and will be, a long journey.

Peter Clay is Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)’s representative to QEW.