Linking Past and Future

I am interested in the way we are tied to the land in which we live.  Connection to the land is a precarious part of my cultural history.  I am a bi-ethnic mix of English and Mennonite. Mennonites have a history of refugee status.  Originally from the lowlands of Netherlands and Northern Germany, once known as Prussia, Mennonites joined many groups in settling into the area which is Ukraine and Southern Russia at the request of Catherine the Great.  When conflicts in the region took a nasty turn, Mennonites moved again.  Some early, 1870’s, some later 1920’s, some later yet 1940’s out to the West in Canada.  (Forgive me if I am vague and inaccurate I am recounting this as a descendant and not a historian).  Attachment to the land in which we live is not something which has been a part of my understanding of who I am.  I live on First Nations (Treaty Six) land.  I am a permanent guest.  I can not go home for home in Prussia is so distant as to be impossible and home in Russia equally so.  Here in Canada I am at home.  As at home as I will ever be and I love this land.
Creek 3
In particular, there is a piece of the valley on the North Saskatchewan River which has come to be owned by Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, called Shekinah Retreat Centre.  It is the piece of nature which I have spent considerable time in.  I began as a camper in 1981 and continued as a counselor 1988-1994 (on and off again).  This is my first year sending my son to be a camper there.  Shekinah is an incredible sanctuary.  I love to stand on its hills and feel the prairie wind sweep me off my feet.  I have felt rejuvenated, cleansed and freed by its breath.  I have added my tears to the rain, added my cries to the wind, added my joy to the sunshine.  If there is anywhere I am at home, it is here.  I hope my son feels that same sense of sanctuary, blessing and joy cradled in this valley.  On Treaty land, we are guests, partners, caretakers of this piece of Creation.  I have heard First Nation’s people talk about the reserve as a place where they go to be connected to the land and to their history.  Shekinah is this place for me.  It is where I have been nurtured by nature.

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