Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Learning to Listen - A Perspective on Neil Young from Fort Chipewyan

Writing takes courage. There are some who may argue that point, but I have come to learn over the last three years that it takes some degree of bravery to put your hands on a keyboard and record your thoughts. It takes courage,too, to share that effort with others, and this past week I was honoured when someone contacted me and had the courage to share her blog with me.

Over the course of the entire episode with Neil Young I have often wondered what those in our First Nations communities thought of his words and his strategy to draw attention to the oilsands, and to those affected by the industry. I have been honoured in my life to have many aboriginal friends, from my childhood in Saskatoon to my years in northwestern Ontario, and now right here in the north of Alberta. They have taught me so much in that time, and in recent years one friend in particular, an elder who came into my life three years ago, has helped me to achieve some serenity I thought might be beyond my grasp. Their friendship, their advice, and their willingness to share the stories of their traditions have humbled me, because what I learned was the value of listening.

I think far too often we talk and talk, only pretending to listen. I have been to Fort Chipewyan, and it is a beautiful place that captured my heart. The people are kind and warm, and I have had the privilege to speak to the youth, the elders, and others. I truly believe we must listen to them, and if they have concerns about industry, or health, or treaties, or anything then we must shut our mouths, open our ears, minds and hearts, and listen to what they have to say, because we build no understanding, no common ground, no dialogue, and no community if we do not listen.

Today I would ask you to listen to Angelina, with an open mind and heart. Hers is one perspective, and I am certain there are as many different perspectives as there are people in Fort Chipewyan. I am so genuinely glad she has shared hers, and I hope others from her community will do the same, because every story, every perspective, and every person has value and deserves to be heard.

Today I redirect you to:

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