Now is the time to be on the land. Connection to nature is one of the ways we heal, and we are excited to be out with family and friends (while practicing physical distancing, of course).
The land is a teacher, a provider, and a sanctuary.
What the land teaches us
Reconnecting with nature reminds us of where we came from, and what we need to survive on the most basic level – air, water, food, shelter, sanitation, touch, and sleep.
Most of us who are reading this are privileged enough to attain these things easily. Spending time on the land gives us a greater appreciation for the work and skill it takes to stay alive.
Nature gives us life, but it can also take it away. That is why it is so important to listen to our elders and the teachings for survival that have been passed down for thousands of years. It is important not only for ourselves, but for everything else on the planet, too.
How the land provides for us
Like everything and everyone, the land deserves our utmost respect. We should treat the land as we would another person, by speaking to it and giving an offering if we need something.
Our relationship with the land should be one of give and take. If we want a safe journey, or to harvest a plant or animal, we should give an offering of verbal thanks, red willow, or tobacco.
As one elder said, when you shoot an animal for food, like a moose, it is because they have agreed to sacrifice their life for you. In return, we need to give thanks, respect, and love.
Along with food, many plants and animals provide us with medicine, materials, and tools. These are invaluable and need to be protected. We need to practice sustainable harvesting, and only take what we need.
Why the land is a sanctuary
The land provides medicine, but it is also a medicine within itself. If you are stressed, try spending some quality time with trees. Trees give us oxygen, and we give trees carbon dioxide. We allow each other to breathe easier, which can lead to many other benefits.
Being in the bush reduces anger and fear. It makes us feel better emotionally, and it makes us feel better physically by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and stress. Our mental, physical, and spiritual health are all connected.
The land is sanctuary to more than us humans. We need to remember to keep other animals in mind when we go out on the land. For example, wear a bear bell to let bears know where you are. Avoid using soap in bodies of water, even the “river safe” kind, as it kills plants and fish.
What are you doing in the bush?
With preparation and planning, most people can safely enjoy our spectacular territory, which is great news because land, like water, is life.
Let us know what kind of adventures you are having out on the land. Tell us your stories, and what you have come to learn. Be safe and enjoy all that our amazing world has to offer. Mahsi!
Coleen Hardisty, Youth Literacy Coordinator