What if the natives saved us another time?
We would not all be wondering what the weather will be like tomorrow if Jacques Cartier did not meet an Iroquois somewhere in 1536.
The e scurvy decimated his troops.
Of the 110 rash people who have crossed the Atlantic, only about ten are left untouched by the epidemic of which they do not know anything. They may call on all the saints, nothing works, men lose their energy, their skin becomes covered with purulent wounds, their gums rot and their teeth fall.
More than 20 die.
Cartier cross then by chance the son of the chief of Stadaconé, Domawaga, he is surprised to see him in full form. The last time he seemed afflicted with the same pain as his men. He asks her naively how he healed, the Iroquois hands him the secret of his magic potion, an infusion of anneda, aka the “tree of life”.
Six days later, Cartier’s men are completely recovered.
Without Domawaga, they would be dead.
The story of Canada’s “discoverer” could have stopped there, had it not been for the help and knowledge of those who had discovered – and lived in – this territory for a long time. If he had known what would happen next, maybe Domawaga would have kept his cure for him.
We know the rest, the Europeans colonized America, renamed – with a few exceptions – lakes, rivers and places.
They appropriated the territory.
In the Atlas of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, author Dan David refers to pre-settlement toponymy, where the city of Saint-Placide was called “where the chimneys stand”, where Saint-Eustache was “Where the grapes ripen”. The names chosen told the places.
Like Kebek, “where the river narrows” into Algonquin.
There is an omnipresence of the nature that surrounds us. It struck me when I went to the Atikamekw house in Manawan three and a half years ago, I wrote that the traditions came back quietly, like the ceremony of the first moons, and that of the bear for the guys, when they hunt their first big game.
There is the blueberry ceremony, to have more blueberries.
The Atikamekw do not have four seasons, they have six. The months also have names related to the traditions, they are part of the current language. The names are pretty: August is the month when young birds learn to fly; February, the month when the whistlers go out; April, the month when the moon reflects on the ice; December is the month of long times.
September is the month when the porcupine breeds.
What all that says, and that’s where I’m coming from, is that first nations are one with nature, they are in their rituals, in their vocabulary.
They are inside her.
And we see what that looks like when we read the most recent report released earlier this month by a group of UN experts on biodiversity that points to an unprecedented acceleration in the destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity. urgency to completely review our way of life.
The prognoses are dark, one million plant and animal species are threatened, human beings included.
Without planet, no salvation.
The report also states that it is not too late, it invites us to be inspired by the natives, precisely. “They are clearly the guardians of nature for the rest of society,” AFP Eduardo Brondizio, a leading author, told AFP. [These peoples occupy] under a variety of land tenure systems, a quarter of the world’s land. And that’s where we find the best preserved nature. ”
The idea has come to fruition in federal Bill C-69, which proposes to consider Aboriginal traditional knowledge to assess environmental impact. But C-69 is bogged down, the only prospect of tightening controls has exploded Jason Kenny, Prime Minister of Alberta, which sees a threat to national unity.
And to the economy.
Let’s get back in 1536, Jacques Cartier did not hesitate a half-second to take the remedy recipe that saved his dying men.
Why are we hesitating now?