Discussing Idle No More with a ‘Good Mind’

Idle no more
Photo by Allison Leonard

“How do we reconcile in peace?” asks speaker Rick Hill at the Laurier Brantford Idle No More lecture series held in Market Square on Mar. 4, 2013.

Hill, a Haudenosaunee historian, teacher at Six Nations Polytechnic and professor at MacGill University was one of four speakers including Jeff Corntassel member of the Cherokee Wolf Clan and professor at the University of Victoria, Angela Elijah of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation Wolf Clan, and MacGill University doctoral candidate Jessica Dolan.

The event, which hosted roughly 50 attendees per lecture, was an alternative response to the Idle No More movement intended to educate the Laurier and Brantford communities.

“Upon returning to campus in January, so many questions were filtering into my office about what Idle No More meant and how Laurier could get involved,” says Bonnie Whitlow, Aboriginal Student Support Coordinator. “We saw hosting a discussion as an opportunity to educate and raise awareness.”

Hill’s lecture focused on the meanings and agreements associated with wampum belts, a traditional means of commemorating treaties, often with the Crown. Hill led the room in a discussion on what the agreements mean in 2013.

“The agreements are cumulative and result in our relationship with the nation today,” says Hill. “We’re not enjoying the peacefulness originally intended because all parties are not coming to the table with Good Minds.”

Good Minds, as explained by Hill is a Haudenosaunee term for the discipline of reacting with respectful, loving intentions.

Roughly $4000 was donated to bring this discussion to the Laurier Brantford community.

“This conversation is vital to have today,” explains Hill. “Some of you [students] will someday be in positions of power, and I’m asking that you will be a little more thoughtful about what these discussions could mean.”

When asked what allies and non-natives could do to support a bi-lateral discussion on reconciling in peace Hill responded succinctly, “elect better leaders.”

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