Dr. Dan Longboat shared an Indigenous understanding of man’s responsibility to nature before a crowd of more than 70 people at Environment Haliburton’s summer speaker event Aug. 10.
Trent University’s director of the Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences Program, as well as the acting director for the Indigenous Environmental Institute, spoke at the Minden Community Centre.
Longboat is a Turtle Clan member of the Mohawk Nation and a citizen of the Rotinonshonni. Longboat talked about Indigenous history, prophecies and creation stories, as well as what the stories say about people’s responsibility to the world.
“Our agenda in working together for the continuation of all life is now even more important than ever before in human history,” Longboat said. “No other time in human history have we had to worry about issues around water, amount, quality. We have issues around global contaminants and toxins, loss of biodiversity, extinction of species … all under the umbrella of climate change.”
Environment Haliburton president Ryan Sisson, who was once a student of Longboat, said his message and perspective are important given people’s unease with current political decision-making.
“People are looking for ways of knowing and ways of doing things differently,” Sisson said. “People are realizing, whether it’s climate change or biodiversity or water quality, we seem to be running out of time for solutions.”
“We need to think of more ways that we can talk to people,” vice president Susan Hay added. “Dr. Longboat just gives us more language, just more ideas that we can share with other people.”
Sisson spoke positively about how the event went. The summer speaker is the group’s most highly attended event each year.
“We had a great turnout,” Sisson said. “We’re just thrilled to have someone of Dr. Longboat’s stature come in.”
In a question and answer session, Longboat also addressed issues such as access to Indigenous stories, gender equality and conflict over wild rice between cottagers and Curve Lake First Nation. Longboat said with every colour of person now together for the first time in history, they must unite to care for nature.
“We’re not going to resolve those things in trying to think there’s only one way to see the world,” Longboat said. “Bring our knowledge together to work for the continuation of life. For the benefit of our children, our grandchildren, their grandchildren and all the other things in the natural world that are depending on us, as human beings, to fulfill their responsibility.”