Opening Hahopa


The weather here on MacKenzie Beach near Tofino is unusually summery.  THe families that were running around over the Thanksgiving weekend are gone now and only a few remain behind.  We began our learning village with a circle gathered around a fire on the beach, maybe 20 of us, sharing Indian Candy (half smoked salmon) dried berries and tea, telling the stories of our names and why we responded to the invitation to join a week of learning together.

We don’t have young ones here, but the oldest is 82 and we have folks from Denmark, Zimbabwe, the United States and France in our midst.  We are teaching and learning with love and kindness, eating and cleaning together, intrigued by the idea of Hahopa, singing songs and repecting protocols, making poems and songs together and starting to find the clarity of the new story we are here to create.

Tonight in the kitchen, where the truly great conversations take place, I was talking about how having the world here on this beach was a harbinger of the new story.  the problems that people face in First Nations communities are directly related to the relations between the communities and the rest of the world.  Hahopa, as it opens and begins today, was about the world coming to offer its own wisdom and to learn Nuu-Chah-Nulth wisdom.  We are in learning together, leaning into a small whisper of a future world of reconciled humanity, beyond apologizing and forgiving – studying together, learning how to learn and live together, and doing it for the children.

All of these are the faintest whispers as we begin, but something is stirring.  Here is the poem I harvested in our check in:

Admire’s desire is to ignite the fire of learning and knowledge
and knowing the college of the land, the culture that stands
for a thousands years
cattle farming and ocean rearing
living in open space to face
a way to govern ourselves
to stay true to our passion and the fashion that takes responsibility.

Toke has spoken of the crazy token of blood
that moves through the veins and floods us with connection
between people and the land
and the waves that nudge us together in the foggy morning weather.

My grandmother taught me with out ever seeing
the source of what was being shared with me
and what wasn’t clear to see.

The loyalty and fidelity to peaceful refuge has formed me.
cultivating a future view in community can hospitality
sensing drala that is the real caller,
a deep holler from the land that wants us to stop and understand
what is born again in the sixtieth journey around the sun
What has begun
what it takes to cross places of struggle
confront that which wriggles within us
and begs to be bigger, a mind that can find
the compassionate line at the heart of her humanity

I’m here for the long term, an uprooted farm hand
that has moved across lands
between worlds
where whatever shows up can be hosted by the whole
so the whole can know what none of us knows
what is encoded in the stories that lives in our bones.

I am with family, my brother and my friend
and there is no end to the people I want to know
to extend my appreciation to this nation.

My roots spread out and my re-beginnings are here
a clear reminder of seven dear racoons
begging for dinner under the light of the moon,

This is truly my whale
and this journey has been us just getting to this canoe
bridging two worlds struggling
to renew an ancient way of being better together
weaving a generous
“ish” not the ish in “selfish”
but the ish in Hishukish tswalk
hahopa wealth, health and a stealthy
ceremony that restores harmony.

This field now begins to grow
as we get to know the flow
that pulls us together
and respects my longing to be known by my name…

What is the indigenous wisdom that needs to be shared with the world now?

I come from seal riders who plumb the depths of this sea
discover the passages that run beneath what we see
and I have sent my life with trees
and climbing the peaks – hawktooa.

I was brought up to help, be proud of what we do and have fun doing it.

I am a woman of many names and none are remembered
but I carry them all contrarian call
that leads to the edges of the earth

My cedar and spruce roots
reach across this island
teach me to understand
how to conserve what has been given to us

The quality of people, quality of land, quality of time
to the watery hearth of the setting sun
this it, the learning village has begun.

Please drop in for a day if you are nearby.  Also please donate to the Indiegogo campaign to help us meet the costs of this gathering and seed whatever comes next.