Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ovide Mercredi on Aging, Wisdom and Kindness

Last Sunday Michael and I pulled into Robin's Donuts to meet Joan and Dan Bellegarde for coffee. These two community builders have a rich and purposeful relationship with the land and the people of this valley, our province and our country. I listened lots and took notes that I haven't processed yet. Then Dan passed me a CD called Chiefs' Forum on Treaty Implementation recorded at the Dakota Dunes Casino and Conference Centre, March 29-30, 2012.

I flipped the case over and read the names: AJ Felix, Dan Bellegarde, Vice Chief Morley Watson, Bill McKnight, Okemow Wallace Fox, Senator Sol Sanderson, Ovide Mercredi, Jim Sinclair, Sharon Venne, Chief Reginald Bellerose, Chief Ian McKay, Chief Perry Bellegarde, Henry Lewis, Vice Chief Dutch Lerat, Vice Chief Simon Bird, Vice Chief Bobby Cameron, Senator Matilda Lewis, and Chief Darrel McCallum.

I am listening to these three CD's and I realize I will need to listen over and over. They are referencing so much history that I do not understand. So much hope that I have never considered.

Yesterday I put in the second CD which begins with Ovide Mercredi. His voice is a little older than I remember from the late eighties and early nineties when I first heard him speak. He's the first person I heard refer to Canada as "sea to sea to sea" in recognition of our northern shores.

His soft voice began. "As we get older I hope we're getting wiser, too. And part of getting wise, I think, is becoming kinder, and if that's true, if we become kinder as we get older, then our people will get stronger. And the things that we build together, we're not going to break them up. We're going to build them more."

I was sitting in my desk at school, all alone. I started to cry. As we get older, we get wiser, and part of getting wise is becoming kinder. I sobbed. His logic is pure beauty. The kind of leadership I will follow with courage and hope.

He didn't end his speech there, and his voice became a little louder as he painted a vision of possibilities, but his groundwork of kindness gives me courage to find my role in honouring treaties.

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