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Re-Thinking How We Live

October 18, 2011 — 

E. Richard Umeek Atleo

E. Richard Umeek Atleo, Hereditary Chief, calls for the convergence of knowledge at KA NA TA Conversions on Re-Thinking Canada Embracing An Indigenous Worldview.

On October 5th, 2011 E. Richard Umeek Atleo, a research liaison with the faculty of education at the University of Manitoba, and hereditary chief, participated as one of Canada’s leading thinkers at the University of Winnipeg inaugural KA NA TA Conversions on Re-Thinking Canada Embracing An Indigenous Worldview organized by the Assembly of First Nations.

Joining Umeek was Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, Joseph Boyden, Elder Dave Courchene, James Sakej, Dr. Leroy Little Bear, Ovide Mercredi, John Ralston Saul, and the Honourable Chuck Strahl.

The KA NA TA conversation where divided into four panels and were moderated by Ms. Carla Robinson. The panel themes included: Culture and Identity; The Natural World; Governance, Laws and Relations; and Re-building Wholeness.

As part of the Natural World panel discussions, Umeek addressed the symbiotic evolution of western scientific and Indigenous knowledge. He explains that: “We are a small part of the Natural World and as such we are all related. This idea is consistent with both the theories of Evolution and of the Big Bang, both of which assume common origins. The Natural World is our home, and as a teacher I am inclined to trust the recent scientific research that also indicates the Natural World is intelligent. That plants and animals communicate with each other. Yet, in spite of the great body of accumulated scientific knowledge about the Natural World, as Einstein pointed out, it is mostly a mystery.”

Umeek, and others at KA NA TA urged people to embrace and not fear this healthy convergence of knowledge in order to create a sustainable world for our future generations. He explains that, “This emergent convergence of scientific and Indigenous knowledge systems is not a destructive clash of cultures reminiscent of 1492 but rather a process typical of the Natural World. We live at a juncture in the cycles of life and death; a cycle that is characteristic of eternity. As Dr. Jerry Franklin said during his opening comments to a Scientific Panel, ‘Forests are eternal.’ This comment reminds how resilient life is and that we are only a small part of this Natural World. This fact presents to us the opportunity to choose to live as though we are all related.”

On Friday, October 14, E. Richard Umeek Atleo (University of Victoria), presented a lecture titled “A Valued Role in the Story” at the University of Manitoba as part of the Native Studies Fall 2011 Colloquium Series “Cosmopolitan Indigeneity.” For more information contact The Department of Native Studies or the Faculty of Education.


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