Ten years ago, while in her mid-twenties, Pawa Haiyupis attended her first Open Space Technology training, meeting for the first time good friend and colleague Chris Corrigan who became a mentor. Unbeknownst to Pawa at the time, a vision began to take root: a vision of First Nations youth connecting back to elders and the land, bringing back ceremonies like rites of passage, naming and grieving ceremonies, language; essentially activating blood memories. We know when blood memories have been activated because we get little energy shivers in our bodies; the more powerful the activation, the stronger the shiver but even subtle little activations can have profound impact that reverberate in our awareness.
Four years ago, Pawa began working for the National Centre for First Nations Governance (NCFNG) out of British Columbia, with a focus on youth leadership. During this time she also stepped more deeply into her own leadership journey through Art of Hosting and Warrior of the Heart, including a journey a year ago to Kufunda Learning Village in Zimbabwe.
Her vision grew and began to take tangible form with the development of a Nation Rebuilding project piloted in the First Nations community of Membertou in Nova Scotia this summer focused on helping young people, ages 14-19, learn about identity and belonging, reactivating their creation stories, inviting the ancestors through ceremony and a traditional territories tour to guide this process. A combined Warrior of the Heart/Art of Hosting training was identified as an essential component of this work because it cultivates the conditions for emergence based on what each Nation knows.
A hosting team of Pawa, myself, Bob Wing and Sarah MacLaren converged for this exciting work with 50 youth from Membertou, actively supported by up to 20 elders in the community as well as the young team from NCFNG. In the middle of the 4 week Nation Rebuilding project, NCFNG’s funding was cut by the Harper government, potentially putting this work in jeopardy. Except for the questions asked by the Membertou Governance Committee about how to make this work despite the funding cuts. Except for the hosting team deepening their dedication to this work by agreeing to volunteer these four days of their time. Except for the strong vision that Pawa and her team have been cultivating for years that refuses to be drowned out by resistance that shows up in the form of funding cuts and seems to now have taken on its own force independent of the individuals who first dreamt what was possible. As one member of the team said, “The work will continue because the ancestors are strong and we are strong… we can make it work because its in our hearts.”
Pawa turned to a circle of “Eagles”, stewards of the Art of Hosting, who are at our backs holding the rim of our circle with us, to ask for help. She wrote:
“I email you all with a heart request to help financially to keep the movement going and help bring this work to Indigenous youth in Membertou, Cape Breton Island NS. I know that financially at this time the world is in chaos. It is easier to give up which is precisely why I want to move this work forward. It is these practices (art of hosting and warrior of the heart) that help us lead in complex times with courage. It’s what is needed most. If the only thing the Emerging Leadership team does this year is finish this PILOT to be inclusive of art of hosting and warrior of the heart, it sets this work up to happen again in the future.
“It is crucial that the art of hosting and warrior of the heart be included in the Emerging Leadership Program for reasons that you all know, it works when changing systems. The government cut NCFNG’s funding drastically days before the scheduled training was to take place. Training that I have been waiting years to happen. Either the art of hosting gets cut from the program or we find alternative resources to make it happen. This is where you come in. Eagles, with vision. We honour you by asking for help.” Pawa also made the initial personal contribution offer of $450 toward expenses of about $3,000 which includes Bob’s travel from Colorado.
The Eagles have been responding with small and large offers of financial support and adding their individual and collective consciousness to this work which may set a pattern for what is possible in First Nations communities across Canada. We are broadening the call for support to the larger community. If you feel called, if you sense the power and possibility of activating blood memories, you could offer financial support here WiseActions.net and whether you can offer financial support or not, your holding this work from where you are and adding your conscious powerful intention for the highest good of the work, the people and the hosting team are all meaningful contributions.
In the words of one of the eagles:
“Pawa, yes certainly, to offer what I can here. When the revolution comes ( and it wont be televised) we will go kindly to Ottawa, sit the treasury board in a circle and pass the feather til the wisdom of mutual stewardship becomes our national fiscal policy…. ….until then I take this an an investment in the leadership needed to see that day…”
The last 2 weeks of this program are being combined into one. We will incorporate hosting and Warrior of the Heart with a traditional territories tour, naming ceremonies and community celebration. We will host and be hosted. As a hosting team, the work we have been pulled into is shifting literally by the minute. We will be called upon to be highly present, tapped in, resilient and resourceful to the fullness of our capacity as we hold this space with the people of Membertou.
The response of the Eagles has already astounded the good people of NCFNG and of Membertou who are interested by and curious about this generosity of spirit from people they do not know. The response is also showing pathways to what’s possible when we think we don’t have money or other resources to do what is calling to be done. We are more resilient and powerful than that and we have abundant resources available when we turn to look and when we continually offer prayers to the ancestors and ourselves in service of their bidding.
This work of and in Membertou is another of the illustrations of how resilient we are as human beings, responding to the vision of what’s possible in the world. It is a time of quiet revolution and we are shifting the shape of the world as we know it.