#107-Honouring Truth with Michael Gubbels

 
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As stewards of the land, it is the duty of all environmental professionals to look after all forest values forever. We have gotten good at managing for plants and animals, water, and recreation. Unfortunately, Indigenous values have been left behind. Indigenous people have been left behind. The only way we can properly account for Indigenous values and needs is to understand where they come from and what they have been through. We must look into the dark depths of Canada’s past and accept it for what it is. Perhaps when we all understand we can seek to forge a new path forward together. If we want forest management to succeed, we need Indigenous people to succeed. Let’s start by hearing their story.

Your Forest Podcast by Matthew Kristoff

Honouring Truth with Michael Gubbels

Episode highlight

Michael Gubbels shares the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the ways in which non-indigenous people can be allies in the journey towards truth and reconciliation.

Resources

The Story of A National Crime by P. H. Bryce: https://www.amazon.ca/Story-National-Crime-Classic-Reprint/dp/1397731877/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjw0emHBhC1ARIsAL1QGNcwr5dAtqYafPdHkAaxTuLIEA8xEwwoQfpFIkO3MO5hzYwZgfdAvSUaAiaIEALw_wcB&hvadid=231246495818&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9061281&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=13170726457531781699&hvtargid=kwd-407004869754&hydadcr=10144_9613689&keywords=the+story+of+a+national+crime&qid=1627082477&sr=8-1

Dr. Gabor Maté’s theories: https://drgabormate.com/

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada - Calls to Action: http://trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples.html

Sponsors

West Fraser: https://www.westfraser.com/

GreenLink Forestry Inc.: http://greenlinkforestry.com/

Damaged Timber: https://www.damagedtimber.com/

Giveaway

Enter YourForest10 at checkout at the Damaged Timber store for a 10% discount!

Quotes

29.37 - 30.15: “A lot of... international organizations... United Nations, academic organizations, corporations, companies... they are realizing this more and more that there is such a benefit to partnering with indigenous peoples, to working with them in their cultures, in areas of biodiversity conservation, balancing development.”

31.30 - 31.38: “The simplicity in hearing the wind is medicine; smelling the trees and the plants, it’s medicine.”

1.02.16 - 1.02.33: “Love, compassion, determination - those 3 things will change the world.”

1.48.00 - 1.48.16: “Sometimes, when people criticize, it says more about them than it does about me... It says more about where they are coming from and how they see the world, and I don't need to… take all that on because I believe in myself and I know I’m doing the best I can.”

2.00.00 - 2.00.06: “Mother Earth gives to us freely, so we are to give to each other freely and to the earth freely.”

Takeaways

“From your heart to your head” (13.25)

Michael acknowledges indigenous people for sharing this land which is the source of our livelihood and the lives of all organisms. At age 12, when he first found out that he was Métis on his mother’s side, he was ashamed because he had grown up in the prairies with myths and misconceptions about indigenous people. At 22, he joined the Aboriginal Student Union in hopes of a scholarship but ended up learning about and loving his culture.

“Don’t just pray with your mind, pray with your heart” (19.22)

Michael shares his experience at a sweat lodge, where he learned the power of praying alongside others, and the resilience and strength prayer can bestow on you. He worked with elders to learn more about praying and even manifested the woman of his dreams through sincere, humble prayer. He is grateful for the beauty and wisdom he has discovered in his culture through the teachings shared by elders.

From shame to connectedness (31.30)

Michael encourages others like him to look beyond the negative messaging they have grown up with, and learn about indigenous cultures with an open mind and heart. He is mindful that residential schools, RCMP officials and priests taught children to be ashamed of their culture, history and ancestry and tore them away from the elders and sources of knowledge. Other government measures and like banning ceremonies and impoverishment reinforced the shame.

Residential schools more dangerous than World War I (43.18)

Michael recommends the book The Story of A National Crime by P. H. Bryce, which exposes the countless deaths in residential schools due to dangerously unhealthy conditions. When the children were living in their own homes, they led healthier lives than even settlers’ children. The schools were rife with medical experiments, assaults and sexual abuse. There are many more hidden graves of children yet to be uncovered for the truth to be revealed.

Intergenerational trauma (56.44)

Michael quotes Dr. Gabor Maté’s theory on trauma, addiction, stress and childhood development to explain why residential school survivors took to addictions to escape their realities and numb their pain, loneliness and depression and passed on the trauma through their familial generations due to lack of healing opportunities. Elders teach that it will take fewer generations to heal if we create a safe, understanding and compassionate society.

All Canadians are my brothers and sisters (1.03.51)

Michael believes that people “try to do the best they can with what they have” and that those who are ignorant of indigenous issues have just not received the correct teachings. Reconciliation is about “no shame, no blame, no guilt” so a space to share the truth and grow in a community is needed. By modelling compassion, love and determination, people can be taught to undo their biases, which can lead to the resolution of many other issues in society.

When a language dies, a university worth of knowledge is lost (1.17.32)

Michael highlights some First Nations are in danger of losing their cultures because of the dwindling numbers of language speakers. Some Nations have mandated that all their members learn one new word a day, which, in a few years, will ensure that most people can speak the language fluently. He hopes that the government and all Canadian citizens support such initiatives which will benefit the children, economy, environment and international reputation.

“It’s hard but it’s simple” (1.20.04)

Michael claims that “evolution isn’t survival of the fittest, it’s the species that can adapt most to change”, and urges listeners to live with love, compassion and determination to adapt. There are many ways to contribute to the cause and be an ally, but the underlying goal should be making indigenous voices heard instead of being a voice for them. He encourages us to be curious, patient and unafraid of making mistakes in this journey as long as we are respectful.

Love is humility, giving, listening, forgiving (1.39.43)

Michael says that success at any initiative is the tip of the iceberg, and it hides the many failures on which it rests. The path of truth and growth is easier to walk on with love, compassion and determination and it will change your life and the world in a good way. Love is a conscious journey, not a destination, and it can help attract and cultivate the love, hope and willingness to change and improve that we wish to see in the community.

“Truth has so much trauma” (1.47.30)

Michael suggests being kind to yourself when someone criticizes you and showing empathy for their hurt. He asks us to question if our messaging is imbued with love or fear and to face the fears to let love shine through and energize courage to uncover the truth. When people are afraid to live in truth, it can have dangerous consequences for them and the world. “Indigenous cultures see Canada as a family”, and want everyone to rise up in truth together.

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