August 7, 2009
Voices of Hope Pew Bulletin Story
Canada Myanmar (Burma)
When Geraldine Govender, the Language and Culture Coordinator at Moose Cree First Nation, was invited to join the PWRDF sponsored delegation to meet with Karen refugees on the Thai-Burmese Border in 2007 she saw the opportunity to strengthen her work for an indigenous approach to addictions and recovery. Along with her traditional pipe, she brought her many years of experience as one who has forged a path to find the “Indian Way” in child welfare and addiction recovery programs.
In the camps, Geraldine shared the Oji-Cree teachings that connect the values of kindness, honesty, sharing and strength with the traditional symbols of the pipe, the medicines of sage and sweet grass, the sacred colours of the four directions, and the four elements of life Ã¢â‚¬” earth, fire, water and air. The Karen people identified with her teachings and her stories of the impacts of colonization. Each partner shared their experiences of the ravages of drugs and alcohol on their communities and healing work that has begun.
Both these communities know that the survival of their traditional knowledge and their culture is critical to the health and survival of their communities. Gratified and humbled they parted having enriched each other’s journeys. Upon returning home, Geraldine was reminded of the words of Aleut elder, Larry Merculieff who described how we are so closely related to each other that there will come a time when all colours of the earth will come together and when we greet each other we will say, “Hello, my other self.”
Hello my other self (PDF)