Some fifteen years ago, at a Peace Gathering, an elder shared a prophecy. A baby boy would be born in a teepee on a buffalo robe, his birth signaling that now is the time to act.
Last Thursday, on the eve of the 4th Annual Healing Walk in Fort McMurray, Alberta, a young woman went into labour. Her contractions came closer together. Grandmothers and mothers gathered to pray. And, at the stroke of midnight, inside a teepee, a healthy boy was born on a buffalo robe.
The baby was born on the Healing Walk grounds amidst the tents of the over 400 First Nations, settlers, workers, children and families who came together from across the world to pray for the healing of the land and people. The elders say the old prophecy is now coming true.
The following morning, another profound omen came from the skies: rain. Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation describes the importance of rain in her culture: “Rain sn a blessing. Rain is water, and that’s our mother cleansing herself. Just as we cleanse ourselves when we cry, she cleanses herself through the rain.”
Together, we set off on a 14-kilometre walk past tailings lakes, so-called “reclaimed” land and plants. In the words of Clayton Thomas-Muller, a prominent First Nations activist and coordinator of the Sovereignty Summer, the Healing Walk is “a meaningful ceremonial action to pray for the healing of Mother Earth, which has been so damaged by the tar sands industry.”