Mother Earth Learning Lodge
The presence of Askaakamigokwewigamig reinforces land and relationship as the foundation for mobilizing health, well-being and life promotion for students and faculty attending in-person at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus.
My name is Dr. Debby Wilson Danard (PhD, MEd, BEd). I am Anishinaabekwe, a traditional knowledge practitioner, visual and performance artist, lecturer, writer, water protector, life promotion ambassador and sturgeon clan member from Rainy River First Nation. Growing up, I was raised by my grandmother’s love and commitment to sharing traditional Anishinaabek teachings and way of life.
Recently, I was awarded a 2019 Provost Postdoctoral Fellowship in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto. In 2000 I began my academic journey at the University of Toronto as my path forward to advance traditional knowledge through connecting water, land and life teachings.
In response to the current pandemic, and inclusive of addressing the emotional well-being and physical safety of faculty and students present on the St. George campus, including those inresidence at New College, Askaakamigokwewigamig is built to ensure open air, physically distanced learning on the land while engaging Indigenous knowledge/teachings/ceremony as an essential aspect of learning.
The primary Traditional Space Protocol for this Lodge is: No drugs, No alcohol, No Violence. Users and guests of the Lodge must also follow all safety protocols for COVID, including social distancing for those in attendance. The Lodge will be a respected space to connect to the land; with scheduled times (TBD) to access this shared space
I acknowledge that further discussions are needed as we manage and address significant and complex issues at this time. I acknowledge that I will be involved directly and indirectly with many unfolding conversations and am requesting direct conversation in all decisions affecting the structural presence of the Lodge.
I would like to acknowledge Elder and Knowledge Keeper, Jeff Monague who is currently the Co-Manager at Springwater Provincial Park on behalf of the (Chimnissing) Beausoleil First Nation in partnership with Ontario, who provided guidance and support for the gathering of maple saplings for the lodge poles, and supported the naming of the Lodge. Jeff is a former Chief of the Beausoleil First Nation on Christian Island, former Treaty Research Director with the Anishnabek (Union of Ontario Indians), and veteran of the Canadian Forces and who taught the Ojibwe language with the Simcoe County District School Board and Georgian College.
Each of the maple saplings were offered tobacco and are recognized for giving their life to provide the poles to construct a space for learning and connecting. Jeff also reminds us that Askaakamigokwewigamig is the ultimate Land Acknowledgement.
I would also like to thank all those who have supported and those who will continue to support Askaakamigokwewigamig as a space of engaging Indigenous knowledge/teachings/ceremony and strengthening land, healing and reconciliation.
Dr. Debby Wilson Danard PhD, MEd, BEd
Traditional Knowledge Practitioner & Life Promotion Ambassador
Provost Postdoctoral Fellow University of Toronto
Union Star Consulting Life Teachings Lodge