Saturday, May 19, 2018

Seeing With Eyes of Hope, Listening as the Forest Speaks

Gisele Martin
Tofino Ambassador Program
photo by Tofino Mayor, Josie Osborne


She wears rose-coloured glasses,
sees with eyes of hope,
teaches we who want to learn
about the Old Ways,
the true ways.

"In those days, people and plants
and trees and animals
could speak to each other,"
she explains.
"We have forgotten how."

But, I know,
we can learn again.
We must.

She is passionate about
learning her tribal language,
keeping the ancient words alive.
She speaks them to us;
we repeat them:
Naciqs for Tofino ~
the spot where guardians
once kept watch 
over all the waters;
T'ashii, the path
on land and water;
His-shuk-nish-tsa-waak,
my favourite, which means
"Everything is one."

The Tla-o-qui-aht have lived here,
interconnected
with the land and the water,
for thousands of years.
"We are careful,
when we harvest bark or plants,
taking some, but leaving much more,
so there will be harvest
for future generations.

"The salmon feed the forest,"
she explains,
bear and wolf scat
bringing nitrogen to the trees
to keep the woods alive.

Long have her people
respected the territory
of whale and wolf and bear,
eagle and even
the lowly slug.
"If we enter the forest
and find a wolf den,
we leave immediately.
We honour their territory."

The Nuu-chah-nulth Ha-Houlthee 
- territory -
is ruled by their nation.
No treaties were signed
in the days when Europeans came
and took what they wished.
We non-natives
are living 
on unceded land.
May we be mindful
of this.

May we tread softly,
respectfully, here.
May we remember that,
to the First Nations,
the wolves, the bears,
the ancient forests, the whales,
we are merely 
guests here.



T'ashii Cultural Canoe Tours

for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads: to write about a heroine. I recently have been taking workshops and guided walks with Gisele Martin, a wonderful young local woman who is passionate about keeping her ancient language alive, and who offers teaching sessions as part of the local Ambassador program. I could listen to her all day as she tells her stories, speaks of the history of her people, and talks about living respectfully with the land, a subject so dear to my heart. Any mispelled words are completely my fault. Smiles.

Also shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.


34 comments:

  1. there is great honour and wisdom to hear, to be present, to listen .... absorb and learn .... because those who were here well and truly before us, and who understood for their "few in number" that it was of the land, the sea and the sky, for all that there was, it was senseless to waste .... of time, energy and resources ... because living hand to mouth by virtue means conserving for other times and peoples .... to come.

    All too sad we take far more than we give, and have lived far too long with a divide and conquer rape for the taking, in overabundance - with no respect for the dead or the living.

    how rich to be able to be in those ancient places and surrounds and that there are young and old alike, who are still and now able, to take up and speak with true voices.

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  2. Everything Pat said. Years ago I was mentored in herbal healing under an old Cherokee healer. I learned more about history and the earth, being respectful, honor that I could ever learn in a lifetime of school. this is a powerful and true write Sherry. Yes. We are merely guests and not very good ones.

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  3. This is really inspiring, Sherry. I am glad that you are taking workshops and guided walks with her. She has much to teach by her example and her knowledge.

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  4. Guided walks! It seems we take one with you in your poetry, too. Thank you. I wish I could memorize these words you teach, but alas, that skill is gone.

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  5. Really describes the inspiration you felt and shared with me in the garden here.Just lovely and so true!

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  6. We non-natives
    are living
    on unceded land.
    May we be mindful
    of this.- Powerful message Sherry.

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  7. What a beautiful poem of love and togetherness this is for one's land. Let's hope agreements with governments are never broken.

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  8. Wonderful celebration of a special hero. And your poem of her is a t'ashii, a path to the old from a corner of the present. I was stilled by it.

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  9. Listen the operative word!!! luv your 'Heroine of The Rose Coloured Glasses' Sherry

    Much♥️love

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  10. Australia would be much better off in many respects if the invaders had learned from the indigenous people how to care for the land, instead of dismissing them as 'primitive savages'. I very much like this poem about learning those things, even now, in your country.

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  11. Thank you so much for this introduction to a modern day heroine. How lucky you are to get to take workshops with her!

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  12. in true Yeats style - she is spreading "dreams under your feet". We have all ceded land from the wild ones - it's a crying crime

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  13. This is absolutely stunning! It's something which Yeats himself would have written 💜💜

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  14. Dear Sherry, thank you for sharing all that you learned. I loved this write!!! Your voice is powerful!

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  15. We should always listen to nature... and if we cannot hear the trees ourselves let us talk to an interpreter.

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  16. She is certainly a heroine....and it seems we are both thinking of women who are teaching us about our Mother Earth!

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  17. Learning a new language is often difficult, especially for oldsters, but not impossible. If we would pass our time of "guest-hood" on Earth with respect, it is crucial that we learn the language of trees...and stones...and blackbirds. :)

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  18. this is so inspiring. and from someone young.

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  19. I love the depth of culture you revealed. This is where true treasures lie.

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  20. Sherry, there is great wisdom in learning the language of nature and bringing honor to ancient tongues. I believe guides come in all ways and forms into our lives. This amazing woman is a guide for you and all that hear the call. A very inspiring poem!

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  21. This just resonates so fully with me--you are right, we have to find our way back to this truth

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  22. well presented Sherry... there is much not only to learn but apply as well

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  23. Gisele is a true heroine Sherry, a heroine to this Earth on which we dwell.
    We should seek the wisdom of those who truly know this earth, teach our self to respect same and ourselves.
    Only then will we truly prosper.
    Anna :o]

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  24. Wonderful thoughts, words, and tribute. Inspirational in every way.

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  25. What a wonderful young lady, so knowledgeable and passionate about nature and history. You captured it all well.

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  26. Well written "diary page".
    You're taking guided WALKS? At our age all I can say "big showoff" : ) written from someone who only has two speeds, Slow & Stop
    ZQ

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  27. This is a good poem to linger over and read until traces of it remain over the rest of the day. The phrase "unceded land" gives me shivers.

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  28. Her truth and your telling resonate. Everything is interconnected.

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  29. A beautiful and inspiring poem. I love this!

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  30. How nice to have such a dedicated teacher who confirms what is so special to you - the oneness of nature. Lovely poem Sherry. I hope you shared it with her.

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  31. The sessions with Gisele sound fascinating!

    This is written with such perception and reverence. A wonderfully rendered - edifying - piece, on so many levels. An important work, that begs to be augmented as you add to your knowledge (which is already awe-inspiring).

    Loved everything about this post, Sherry!

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  32. I love this, Sherry. Such an enlightening experience, to learn 'about the Old Ways, the true ways' and a delightful read. It is so important to keep languages alive, especially the ancient tongues. I especially love the husbandry of the Earth in:
    "We are careful,
    when we harvest bark or plants,
    taking some, but leaving much more,
    so there will be harvest
    for future generations."
    And those words are so true:
    'May we tread softly,
    respectfully, here.
    May we remember that,
    to the First Nations,
    the wolves, the bears,
    the ancient forests, the whales,
    we are merely
    guests here.'

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  33. A vibrant testimony to a true hero, Sherry! Well done!

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I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!