Questions & reflections on the brink of light

Though most of us are in the deep freeze of winter, the hours of darkness are getting shorter and the light is growing, bit by bit, every day. The conditions of nature are conducive to going inwards, while the restrictions of Covid demand that we contain ourselves and even, when necessary, isolate. In this time of uncertainty and alone-ness, we reached out and asked you to reflect on the year behind, and the year ahead. 

Your surprising responses to our year-end questionnaire had us nodding in recognition, thrumming with empathy, and deeply appreciating your warmth and sincerity. 

Here is a summary of what you shared: 

At the beginning of 2022 we are tired – so tired –  but also improbably hopeful. We made it through with the help of friends, new and old, glimpses of rabbits  and hummingbirds at the feeder, new roommates, new activist collectives, and the strength of joining together as elders to lead peaceful blockades to protect old-growth forest.”

We deeply appreciated that, by learning to set boundaries, we could experience breakthroughs in pushing beyond our comfort zone. We learned that taking a peaceful approach to interact with wasps, we could cultivate a relationship with them instead of fearing attack. What a brilliant metaphor for our polarized times.”

“So often, we were sadly unsurprised by the depth of the insanity: how financially, the wheels just kept spinning. How, despite everything, money found a way to enrich the 1% even further. It’s hard to believe that people still embrace capitalism when we can’t even ensure clean drinking water for Indigenous peoples across the country. Still, some things pleasantly surprised us, including our resilience against challenges. We appreciated how Truth and Reconciliation Day raised public consciousness, even just for one day. We discovered the power of the writings of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, the podcast Vuostildanfearánat – Sámi stories of resistance, and the huge influence of Indigenous governance systems in shaping what we call democracy thanks to Graeber and Wendgrove’s ‘The Dawn of Everything’.”

We are celebrating how the First Nation communities we work with come together to support one another and uplift a presence of positive story-telling, as an inclusive community. We are more informed, aware and educated about the good work Nations do, and feeling a little more hopeful for future directions from Indigenous-led initiatives. 

Our 2022… maybe? 

We are looking forward to a summertime Festival Afloat and the possibility of hosting floating, paddle-powered concerts in our town. We’re learning more about our communities and the folks in them. We’re hoping that our actions start showing some success, while wondering if we’re doing enough or moving fast enough. We’re giving back unearned wealth to Indigenous organizations. We’re asserting boundaries more clearly, and giving ourselves permission and time to create. We’re stopping the Site C Dam on the Peace River. We’re learning to connect meaningfully with others, initiating conversations, setting wellness goals, sustaining passion, and connecting with land-based learning.  

Questions we are asking ourselves… 

  • Am I thriving in my activist community? Are people supporting each other? 
  • How can we take all the attention and energy and willingness to change that we gave to Covid, and apply that to climate? 
  • For white folks, what new ways can we educate and organize within our communities against anti-Indigenous oppression and colonialism past and present?
  • What CAN I do to address climate change, ocean plastics, the return of the whales and salmon?
  • What WILL I do to address these and other future and important planetary issues?
  • How can we act compassionately but boldly with soft power? 

For our 2021 year-end party with monthly donors, young Indigenous illustrator Elena Sterritt created a drawing based on our collective reflections. Elena’s company, Gisghaast, is named for the Gitxsan word for fireweed: a symbol of innovation and rebirth. See if you can spot that medicine plant  in her work.

Whether you are a new monthly donor (welcome!), a long-time supporter or just someone who is interested and curious about our work — thank you for being part of this movement. Remember: though scorched Earth and devastation may come, so too does the healing medicine of fireweed, of friendship, and of fearlessness. 

You are each splashes of brilliance in the ecosystem that is RAVEN. Let’s keep our colours blazing as we walk together into a new turn around the sun.

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