Bio: Pat Alexander is an early learning educator who has worked with Indigenous communities on remote reserves and in urban environments in British Columbia and Greenland. She has witnessed the degradation of the earth through mining, forestry and hydroelectric mega-projects, and has experienced their devastating consequences for people already dislocated by the loss of traditional lands and lifestyles. She is humbled and inspired by the innate spirituality and ways of knowing that have survived in spite of the prohibition of cultural practices, imposition of residential schooling, and ongoing marginalization and poverty. Pat is involved in several collaborative projects that draw on the wisdom and strengths of Indigenous communities to advocate for changes in public education.
The Problem: I am fortunate to live in British Columbia, one of the most beautiful natural settings in the world. My heart aches for the daily abuses of the earth and life itself that I see both at home and wherever I travel. To damage the earth is to damage our selves. We have much to learn from the spirituality and resilience of Indigenous people who feel the interconnectedness of all things and understand the fundamental necessity for humility, reverence, and a sense of place on earth if we are going to survive. I believe that life on earth will go on without humans if we continue to follow our present path away from this spiritual connectedness with our earthly home. The damage we have done will live on. We are all becoming more and more dislocated, and addictions are our means of coping with the intolerable loss of what is fundamental to our survival. Our challenge is to imagine how our lives could be different if we could experience the world again through our ‘spiritual eye.’
Solution: For those of us caught up in a system that prizes wealth, power and consumer goods, it is easy enough to pay lip service to Indigenous values by making small changes in our daily lives. Our lifestyles are so entrenched that it is almost impossible to imagine how they could be different. We are seeking a path that is not yet clear, but the more we work together on whatever we can do to change the system, the more likely we are to find our way. We are the blind, leading the blind, but there are people among us who have not lost their spiritual sight. Their wisdom can help us find a path, and perhaps we can learn to see again in a different light.