THUNDER BAY – In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must unite and take up our responsibilities to ensure that everyone in our community is safe, we cannot continue on our previous path. As a community we have a choice. We can choose to support each other and to take care of our most vulnerable populations; much the same way as Mother Earth cares for us, she does not judge us nor does she shame us, she is there supporting us each and every day.
Mother Earth is bearing silent witness to an invisible threat that is awakening people around the world to the importance of the land; a respect and sacredness that Indigenous peoples have honoured for generations. It seems like overnight society is understanding first-hand how isolation feels for remote First Nations, the importance of safe clean drinking water and food security, access to quality health care, and of course safe housing and the importance of how interconnected we all are as a community. We are living in a time where Indigenous ways of knowing and being are the answer to this collective crisis by taking up our individual responsibility for the collective wellbeing. We are after all, in this together.
As Indigenous people, and a global community we have an opportunity to transition the entire world into a beautiful, kinder place as a result of the situation we face. We know that Mother Earth is healing as a result of the world slowing down. As individuals, we too have an opportunity to heal, to slow down, to breathe in and care for ourselves as women, as we care for our families and communities. We have an opportunity right now.
The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) would like to acknowledge the leadership of all levels of government as well as Indigenous leadership across the country, especially Indigenous women who continue to inspire us each and every day. ONWA also acknowledges the people fighting for all of us on the frontline; our staff, doctors and nurses, grocery store workers, pharmacists, bus drivers. We see you. We thank you. We honour you.
This World Health Day we challenge you to #BeKind to each other; make a daily post (social media message, picture, or video) of something you are grateful for while staying in your homes for the next 14 days.
Cora McGuire Cyrette
Executive Director, Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA)