The verb “reconcile” is a portent word. In my copy of The Concise Oxford Dictionary there are five definitions for this verb and when taken all together, they prescribe a course of action:
- make friendly after estrangement
- purify by special service after profanation or desecration
- make acquiescent or contentedly submissive
- heal, settle (quarrel, etc.)
- harmonize, make compatible, show compatibility of by argument or in practice
As is the case everywhere in our country, after too many years of horrifying treatment forced upon our sisters and brothers in First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, those of us outside these circles are being called to reconcile, to heal sorely strained relations. In the process, due to our differing world views, we must re-examine our own assumptions about most everything in life.
Here at the DSC we are mandated to give care: care to the animals we take in and care to the land on which our organization sits. The ongoing welfare of the animals and the land is our primary concern and given this fact, we can never stop thinking about their future.
Indigenous philosophies are all about the future as well. They charge us to plan for seven generations down the road. Seven generations. A long term approach like this one reminds us that we are mere links in a chain that existed long before we arrived and that will carry on long after we are gone. Instead of owning the land and owning the animals, indigenous communities remind us that we are but their caretakers. Whatever we do today will echo over decades to come.
In daily life, this philosophical long view is too often ignored. Demands of the present can seem so urgent regardless of their impact. To break these habits, we have to remind ourselves on a daily basis that we hold the future in our hands. Indigenous teachings are particularly helpful in this regard and that is why, earlier this summer, we posted the following statement in our Education Centre. As well, it is read now at the beginning of our Board Meetings:
We acknowledge that we are conducting this meeting on the current treaty land of the Mississaugas of the New Credit and ancestral territory of First Nations, Inuit and Metis.
We thank them for the use of this land and we are committed to performing our tasks in the best interest of the land, the wildlife that resides on this land, as well as The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada.
These, of course, are but first steps on the road to reconciliation. They are a beginning, though, and if there is one thing we have learned over the years at the DSC, it is that small steps accumulate. Healing can take place.
Sandra Pady, Founder