We arrived at Indian BEach on Gregoire Lake a few days before the 4th Annual Healing Walk which turned out to be a huge blessing. We were immediately put to work mowing the grass, setting up tents, making wood piles and more. Our group, along with other helpers and the organizers were invited to the sweat lodge and then a huge feast of venison and moose. I watched the young chef for the event skin a deer with his brand new hunting knife bought earlier that day for the purpose of cutting the umbilical cord of his new baby soon to arrive. Later that evening, at the stroke of midnight, he delivered his eighth child in the teepee close by my tent. How magical to hear the drumming, singing and birth moans and finally the cheers as the baby emerged. This beautiful young family has made it their mission to raise their children in a traditional way, learning the indigenous language almost lost, living off the land and homeschooling in a remote part of Vancouver and studying traditional ways. They learned that this birth was the first in many generations to be born in this way and on this ancestral lakeside territory. The whole gathering was blessed by this new life and this reminder of rediscovering the old ways. The birth continued to be celebrated throughout the gathering, bringing a message of hope for the future.
I was deeply moved by the extreme kindness, inclusivity and generosity of the indigenous people hosting the event. No one was asked for money and by the time the crowds arrived our hosts were feeding over 500 people! They even made 500 sandwiches to pass out on the road during the walk! The culture of generosity and generalized reciprocity is alive and well among these people. It was also very moving and encouraging to see the First Nations people working deliberately together with non-natives in unity for a common cause—the protection of the waters and the future of all life.