Respect for Mother Earth: How to show love for the planet we call home

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

I made a digital art drawing to reflect my thoughts about the teachings from the first week of the LOOP intensive (shown above). During the spring and summer, I would frequently visit Nose Hill Park with my sister, but I did not find it intriguing because it was just grass; that is, until our Elder, Pablo, demonstrated how vital everything is. Until that poit, I had no idea of the medicinal qualities of plants and how precious the materials from mother earth might be. In my piece, I designed the hands to indicate that if we take care of the Earth, it will survive, and we will be able to get resources from it. I included Plants and medicines that our Elder Pablo described. These herbs include sage, which is used to treat stomach issues and diabetes and is also the most common medicine used for smudging. Peppermint is used to keep insects and smaller animals distant and to preserve food. Another plant I sketched was Yarrow, which aids with wound healing. Blood clots are treated using Puffballs. The final plant I drew is Black-Eyed Susan's, which are used to treat snakebites and earaches.

We also gathered Willow while we were at Nose Hill Park so that later on in the week, we could create charcoal. When I discovered that we could make usable art supplies from a tree in the wild, I was fascinated. I was delighted to see the large fire on the top of the hill at Saint Patrick's Island Park, with the small tin cookie containers holding our newly created charcoal set in the flames. In the drawing, I represented this with a Willow tree.

Purple is used as a backdrop color to express spirituality. Indigenous cultures value spirituality and storytelling with their stories, fables, spirit animals, and many other traditions. Pink nails are typically associated with love, respect, and appreciation.

Earlier in the week, our Elders taught us how to pray before picking a plant. When I was a kid, like every child, I used to pluck Dandelions and blow them as hard as I could to see the gorgeous fluffy leaves sway in the breeze as well as other beautiful plants to keep them. I never considered that I was stealing something from Mother Earth and should have asked before taking it. We should pray to Mother Earth to grow two plants in its place for future generations, to the plant to ask whether it's okay to harvest it, and to the sun to thank it for the photosynthesis process and how it promotes the plant's growth.

Another thing to remember was to give before taking. Tobacco is the sacred medicine that is given to the land before collecting plants and medicines. If providing Tobacco is not an option, you can contribute something else, such as spit or hair, or something of significance to you.

It is critical to respect Mother Earth to secure resources for future generations. We rely on Mother Earth for survival, as she provides us with shelter, resources, and so much more. Indigenous people connect with Mother Earth by seeing themselves as a part of her. Your hair represents grass, veins represent rivers, bones represent rocks, breath represents wind, and the heart represents the core. In my painting, I included a river to mean the veins, grass surrounding Earth to represent hair, and an Earth to convey Elder Pablo's message.


My first thoughts

I have always wanted to be a part of any program Antyx offered. It not only relieves my boredom but also allows me to explore my artistic talents further. When I initially went into the LOOP camp, I felt like it was the first day of school, uncertain whether I would fit in. I was afraid of being excluded or being the odd one out because of my culture and religion. When I arrived, the group was multicultural and inclusive, ensuring that no one was left out. I never imagined I would be able to form friends so quickly in just five days. As fast as a puzzle piece, I connected with everyone in the group. Because of the strength of the bonds, I felt as if I had known these friends for years. Not only did friendships form, but my awareness of Indigenous cultures grew as well.

In school, we learn the same things about Indigenous people year by year from an outside perspective. But they never mention Indigenous peoples' teachings or culture. We do not take the time to learn about intriguing cultural practices and traditions. In the last week, I have learned a lot, from creating art supplies -specifically charcoal out of new materials-to doing the Rabbit and Round dance. This last week, I felt so connected to nature. The summer intensive was not only educational but also entertaining. The teachings were significant to me since humans are ruining the Earth with our poor habits and behaviors. In the last month, there have been forest fires in Canada, Lebanon, Turkey, and a fire in the Gulf of Mexico. We must take care of Mother Earth now since it supplies us with food and water to support our existence and helps us survive. Even though we have harmed her severely and cannot take that back, we must take action to save Mother Earth before it's too late. Climate change is overruling the world at the moment, and it is evident by the scorching hot 30-35 degree summers and -30 degree winters in Alberta. We must take action to take care of the Earth.


Ways to take action

1. Make sure to clean Eco-friendly.

When individuals litter by throwing their trash on the ground, it ends up in the sewer, travels through pipes and eventually in the ocean. To help curb this trend, use environmentally friendly, non-toxic cleaning materials such as those that do not include chemicals, non-plastic containers, and reusable wipes instead of constantly disposing of paper towels. According to research, California residents produce about 5 pounds of garbage each day. That's about five bunches of bananas.

2. Give up single-use plastics.

Plastic pollution is one of the most significant issues worldwide. Over 8 million tonnes of plastic trash end up in the oceans each year from coastal nations. This amount equals placing five garbage bags full of garbage on every foot of shoreline throughout the planet. You may wonder, what harm does a single plastic do in the ocean? After all, the oceans are pretty big. However, chemicals in the garbage can accumulate, infecting the water and harming all sea animals. Another way is micro-plastics. Micro-plastics are simply what the word says, Micro meaning tiny and plastics. When plastic breaks down, it turns into micro-plastics due to weather or the radiation from the sun. Micro-plastics are extremely dangerous to animals and have harmed over 700 species so far. Micro-plastics are found in animals because the micro-plastics block their digestive systems leading to starvation. It's essential to stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants, to prevent micro-plastics found inside the animals. Bring your reusable bag while grocery shopping, and purchase Eco-friendly foods such as those in reusable bags or containers. And, of course, reusable water bottles are helpful.

3. Make sure to plant flowers.

Flowers help the environment by increasing the number of plants that absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. Not only do they provide oxygen, but the plants also give food to wildlife such as insects, birds and more. Increasing diversity in plants and planting various flowers will benefit bees and insects that provide natural pest management. Plants require pollination to reproduce. Thus many plants rely on bees or other insects as pollinators.

4. Shop Eco-Friendly.

Some of the materials that are not environmentally friendly are Nylon, Polyester, Cotton and Wool. Nylon and Polyester are non-biodegradable artificial materials. Nitrous oxide, a carbon emission more powerful than carbon dioxide, is formed by Nylon. Making Polyester requires the use of significant amounts of water for cooling and oils, which can constitute a source of pollution. Both procedures need a lot of energy. Cotton is the world's most pesticide-intensive crop, harming many individuals yearly. Wool crafting workers in the United Kingdom would apply sheep dip to the sheep. Sheep dip would protect them against ticks, lice and other parasites. However, these chemicals contain harmful pesticides towards plants and aquatic animals and health problems such as poisoning. Staying away from these products and finding products made from more Eco-Friendly materials is extremely important.

Make sure to protect Mother Earth, and as she does so much for us, it's only fair to return the favor!

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