Last year on September 30, Canada’s first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, Bowen Islanders gathered at 828 Hummingbird Lane to contemplate the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s 94 Calls to Action and silk screen the image of a hummingbird onto orange flags.
The story of the hummingbird, named Dukdukdiya, was re-written and illustrated by long-time islander, Michael Nicholl Yahgulanaas, in his 2008 book, Flight of the Hummingbird. The story goes like this: when the forest catches fire, all the animals flee - except for little Dukdukdiya, who fills his mouth with drops of water and spits them onto the flames. When the bear asks, what are you doing? Dukdukdiya replies, "I am doing what I can."
In a time when the troubles of the world seem to be continuously growing and compounding, the little hummingbird offers a way forward. The world may feel out of control, but we are all capable of contributing in some way. If each of us does what we are capable of, things can only get better.
So in the face of 94 Calls to Action, Brenda Morrison and I asked our island neighbours to pick one call to action, and commit to it. Gail Lotenberg joined us for the event and offered to share her motivations for committing to Number 11, which asks the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First Nations students seeking a post secondary education.
“I had recently attended a talk by Wab Kinew,” says Lotenberg. “He talked about how Indigenous ways of thinking could influence contemporary issues and provide much needed solutions to urgent problems. He brought a new sense of awareness into my head about this idea - we really need all kinds of leaders right now, and there is so much burn-out. We need a vast pool of ideas and contributions to solve the world’s problems, and we can’t afford to leave Indigenous people out of that pool.”
She adds that helping to support her own daughter’s educational journey contributed to her desire to commit to this call to action. So, Lotenberg found the organization Indspire and started making a monthly contribution. Indspire is an Indigenous charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people so that they can achieve their highest potential.
“When you lift up one group of people you lift up everybody,” says Lotenberg.
“And what I like about Indspire is that I’m not in any way trying to tell anyone what it looks like to succeed in the world. I’m just helping to resource an Indigenous-led initiative to support their future.”
Project Hummingbird will be hosting yet another event at 828 Hummingbird Lane this coming Friday, September 30, between 10 am and 2 pm. Please join us.
If you would like to help with our event, or share the story behind the call to action you’ve committed to, we’d love to hear from you. You can connect with us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading, “Project Hummingbird.”