My name is Kawisente, I’m a Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) Clan Mother from Kahnawake, a Mohawk reservation just across the bridge from Montreal. I’m a mother of two: a daughter, age 17 and a son, age 14. My children and I have always been active in social and environmental causes. Culturally we were taught to be responsible for caretaking of the land, water, and all living things.
Because of people being disconnected to the natural world, we see all life suffering. Because of colonization, my people are lacking certain skills, (forest skills). Many people are just taught to have a high paying job and take care of their nuclear fmaily.
I first met Steve Leckman a few years ago when my chidlren were young and it was proposed by friends that it would be beneficial as families to learn these skills to bring back this connection to Mother Earth. Traditionaly it is the Uncles and Aunties that take the children and show them these skills. But Uncles, Aunties, Grandparents are too busy working. So Steve’s survival program and its volunteers fill the Uncle Aunt role.
Helping to bring the inner child (forest child) to the surface, playing in the forest, makes people connected to nature. When you’re living in it, you love it and so you value and protect it.
I allow non-native people on this land because I believe this program is a medicine that needs to be dispensed or prescribed to everyone. My children and non-native children are working side by side as caretakers of Mother Earth. Nursery school is where our first introduction to others begins. Forest teachings should begin as young as possible. This is when we are being formed and where we’re most open-minded.