Ashram friends and Indigenous teachers Pahan Pte San Win and Wanbdi Wakita blessed the Ashram and many guests with their third annual Walking Together into a Hopeful Future weekend focused on reconciliation and the power of women. Pahan writes about how the Sundance of Women came forward, and the movement toward change.
“Now is the time for women to take over the leadership roles. When they do, you men are to support them.” This was the sacred message we received. Not once did I think that we would be asked to demonstrate what that looks like; yet that is the way it turned out. The Sundance of Women is a ceremony where a group of women fast from food and water for four days dancing all the while. I am the Sundance leader. The support from men has been essential to the fulfillment of this vision.
The workshop “Walking Together into a Hopeful Future” that took place in April at Yasodhara Ashram is an act of love, a support to the Sundance of Women and a movement towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous community. We all know that the history between Canadians and Indigenous people has been painful and tragic; yet there are those who believe a healing can take place. It requires honesty, facing difficult truths about the past and ourselves.
As Mitch Bourbonniere – social worker, sundancer and colleague – has said, “Not one person here is responsible for the removal of Indigenous children from their families to be abused in Indian Residential Schools in the 60’s scoop. Not one person here is responsible for the creation of the Indian Act or the systemic racism and discrimination of Indigenous people.” Yet, each has benefited from the displacement of First Peoples from our own lands. In that, there is responsibility.
Reconciliation requires a loving heart, courage and commitment to work toward change and a righting of wrongs. It asks us to move out of our comfort zone. Participants at these workshops demonstrated all these qualities. It was inspiring. It was moving. It was hopeful.
As one participant commented, “This course touched me deeply. I had little real understanding of Indigenous traditions and current experience. Exposure to the stories, the drumming, Indigenous spiritual practice has left me shaken – shaken in a good way – needing to reassemble my thoughts and experience about the richness and possibilities of Indigenous culture and wondering where is the Truth? Where is the Reconciliation? Women and spirituality within the native context has been an expanding experience.”