Sophia Rabliauskas on the interlinkages between nature and culture

This interview with Sophia Rabliauskas, 2015, Poplar River First Nation community member, is reposted here with Panorama Solutions consent. Read the full solution on Valuing the interlinkages between nature and culture in the planning and management of Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Site, Canada.

Our people believe that our responsibility for taking care of the land came from The Creator.

We still live by that knowledge and wisdom that was passed down to us by our ancestors.

We gain life, wisdom and knowledge from the land. We strongly believe that the land is very much alive and we need to acknowledge that life and spirituality of the land. Acknowledging the spirituality of the land sustains the health of our people and reminds us that we are inseparable from the land. One cannot survive without the other.

This knowledge has been passed down through oral history and it is our responsibility to ensure our knowledge and wisdom is passed on to the next generation.

We, as Anishinaabeg believe we do not own the land. It belongs to our future generations; therefore, we have to think very carefully about how the decisions we make today will affect the many generations to come.

In our Land Management Plans, the teachings that are imbedded within the documents are very ancient. The Plans are living documents that carry those teachings into the next generation.

Our people have been practicing land use planning for thousands of years. They never left any traces of destruction or caused the extinction of any species. We knew that we depended on our land for our survival.

Today, we are recognizing just how important our lands and teachings are to us. We as Anishinaabe people have endured the effects of colonization and assimilation. We are at the brink of losing our language, culture and identity.  We understood our Elders who told us that in order for us to heal we needed to go back to the land to restore the balance within our community. We need to teach our young people – our children and grandchildren – the importance of the sacred relationship our people have with the land.  They need to understand the spiritual connection our people have with the land and the life that surrounds us.

Everything that our ancestors used from the land was treated with respect.  To me, that is my true definition of land use planning. Our spiritual beliefs need to be acknowledged and included in anything we do as Anishinaabeg.


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