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"Look Out The Window, Quick"
Carole LeClair
Métis Women's Circle
January 21, 2021

Warm hugs and a few thoughts for our Métis Women's Circle women and those who walk with us. One morning a few days ago Celestin called me to "look out the window, quick." I was astonished to see a beautiful red fox darting around the corner of the house. In a flash the fox bounded up on the deck and over the privacy fence and was gone. I thought of those young urban traceurs, those parcour athletes who bound from building to building with fluid grace. With discipline and training, these young athletes might hope to imitate that fox's natural strength and perception.

My mother, Elder Elize Hartley was given the name "Listening Fox Woman." She made her journey to the spirit world in April of 2020. With the fox's sudden appearance, could she have been making a "flying" visit? It would be so very like her.

I've been reading and listening to ideas about tiny forests, sometimes called urban forests. These are tiny saplings planted very close together, in a space the size of a tennis court. More than 30 species of indigenous plants are included in the layering of the forest ground. The idea for these urban forests originated with a Japanese botanist, Akira Miyawaki, who planted more than 1,000 tiny forests throughout Japan.

In an article in The Guardian Weekly (June 19, 2020) Hannah Lewis describes these mini forests as growing "10 times faster and 30 times denser and 100 times more biodiverse than those planted by conventional methods." The dense packing of plant materials simulates the growth of much more mature forests. This in turn accelerates regeneration of damaged land. I listened to a BBC World Service podcast, "A forest down your street" to learn how to develop one of these mini forests and like many great ideas, they aren't cheap to create, some estimate between 20 to 30 thousand dollars. Given most urban attitudes toward wildlife, including foxes, coyotes and skunks, etc., there could be resistance to this effort to balance the effects of global warming. Urban living erases knowledge of how to live in harmony with other-than-human sentient beings, an Indigenous understanding of the value of all life.

Nexus, a non-profit journal dedicated to climate change, lists eight Native American leaders working for climate justice. Among the eight, Elder Faith Spotted Eagle offers the following; "I would hope the animals, plants and spirit recognize our prayers - and they have been listening - to save the sacred places of our ancestors. It's our identity, we've been erased so much that it can't happen any more." ( Faith Spotted Eagle, Sioux Nation, South Dakota, Brave Heart Society)

We have been aware of environmental movements since before marine biologist Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962. Reaction to her research by Government and industry was predictably vile, with claims that she wrote fiction rather than science. Exxon was aware of "catastrophic climate change" forty plus years ago in 1977 with the Black Report. Today, youthful climate activist Greta Thunberg urges global authorities to "listen to science." Current scientific reports link climate change with future pandemics (see Dr. Anthony Fauci and medical historian Dr. David Morens, both of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases).

Years ago, when I taught Environmental Studies at York University, it felt like a full semester of doom, anxiety and gloom. One student (a guy) wore a tee shirt to class which read, "Nuke the Whales." So cynical a message broke the tension a little, but did nothing to lighten the depressive parade of facts on environmental degradation. In those days, environmentalism dealt with flora and fauna, largely failing to make the connection between global warming and its impact on human lives.

In these days of covid lockdown, knowledge of our traditional teachings is often dependent on what we can learn by ourselves. We feel the tension, the grief and fear of global warming, the feeling of being overwhelmed by the isolation of the current pandemic and the inability to effect change even in our personal lives. In isolation from elders' reassuring knowledge, I look for TED talks, books, and essays for insights.

Renee Lertzman, a post-doctoral researcher in San Francisco, wrote Environmental Melancholia: Psychoanalytic dimensions of engagement (Psychoanalytic Explorations) 2015. In her TED talk she speaks of understanding ourselves and the earth, and how to stay present with our overwhelming feelings. She offers insights on how psychology can help us discover both the "creativity and resilience needed to act on environmental issues." TED TALK...

Climate change activist Ayana Johnson writes that it is necessary to elevate Black, Indigenous and Latinx women leaders to the biggest climate team possible. In her essay, "We Can't solve the Climate Crisis Unless Black Lives Matter" Ayana calls for the inclusion of those who are most impacted. Indigenous women live at the intersection between climate change, systemic racism and gender discrimination. We know that Native American, Black and Latinx communities have been hardest hit by the corona virus and by climate change. MORE...

Some global leaders are listening to thoughtful scholars and activists. Witness the Inauguration of Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States. A Laguna Pueblo woman, Rep. Deb Haaland has been chosen as Interior Secretary (similar to our Ministry of the Environment with more teeth), Kamala Harris, a Jamaican/East Indian woman as Vice-President, and Susan Rice as American Domestic Policy Chair for infrastructure and manufacturing, clean energy, caregiving, education and racial equity.

Some of us say that politics just isn't of interest, that traditional teachings from our Indigenous cultures are all we need. This point of view may be comforting, but we Indigenous still live within the destructive strictures of a colonization which determines the fate of the forests, the foxes and ourselves. The Metis Women's Circle, founded by a political activist in Elize Hartley, has stayed true to our Mission Statement.



January 24, 2024 The Enduring Impacts of Colonial Violence
September 25, 2023 Loon Summer
April 29, 2022 To Apologize
April 28, 2022 Developing Healthy Water Routines
April 25, 2022 Water is Not a Noun
May 12, 2021 The Flower Beadwork People
May 1, 2021 Good Riddance Beyak
April 1, 2021 Another Day in Paradise
March 1, 2021 All My Relations Matter More Now Than Ever
January 21, 2021 "Look Out The Window, Quick"


The purpose of Trade Beads is to inform and inspire our readers within the overall theme of Indigenous experience. Broadly, themes will follow the four seasons, but posts are not limited by these categories. We consider submissions by students, artists and community members at large. TradeBeads is supported by the Métis Women's Circle, whose mission statement is as follows;
We are a circle of Métis women who support, educate and empower our women and their families. We acknowledge the Creator and the wholistic relationship between the earth and the gifts provided to us. Through reciprocity and the healing journey we can help our people reclaim and celebrate our cultures, histories and identities.

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