June 28, 2021
In our last blog post, “What The Heck Is Big Bush,” we explained a little what bushcrafting is, who bushcrafters are, what they do, and who we are.
In case you need a little refresher…
Essentially, bushcrafting is the constant pursuit of knowledge and experiences in the outdoors that is concentrated on teaching individuals skills that let them survive and thrive in nature.
Big Bush is a company in Canada that creates outdoor gear and tools to help you in these adventures.
Bushcrafters rely on the land, but they’re not the only ones that do.
My name is Cliffton Skelliter, and I’ve started my bushcraft journey with my friend and partner, Andre Lapierre, who many people know as one of the ultimate Canadian bushcraft experts. Under his wing, I’ve slowly been learning the art of the bush, and as time has gone on, I’ve come to draw many comparisons between my Ojibwe heritage and bushcrafting. When I’ve voiced what I see as remarkable similarities to my family and friends, I have found that I’m not alone in my views. It’s incredible how as humans, we seem different, yet so many qualities and traditions radiate through the intricacy of life and connect us together.
A lot of people know that for Indigenous communities in Canada, their relationship with the land is ingrained deep within them and is how they’ve learned to live and survive for centuries.
It’s fair to say that an Indigenous person’s sense of self is not separate from the land. However, we argue that it might be more accurate to state that the land itself is a natural part of our DNA.
Historically, many Indigenous people have long been cultivating the land, gently shaping it, and allowing it to shape them in the process. Through raising animals, hunting, fishing, foraging, and celebrating sacred ceremonies like sweat lodges, drum circles, and more. The knowledge provided by the land has been essential to Indigenous communities' existence. On a side note I’ve spent the month of June on Manitoulin Island learning from dozens of Elders. The teachings have included: the clan system, creation story, reunification ceremony, and many many more. I can’t wait to share those teachings with you.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to understand that the bountiful enrichment they receive from the land goes beyond using it as a tool for its resources to survive.
In Indigenous cultures, the land is connected to spiritual beliefs, traditional knowledge and vital teachings. It is a sensitive connection that nations and communities must protect because it can bring Indigenous lives closer to their cultures.
And when looking at Indigenous art, we're inspired and amazed because it showcases the deep, compelling interconnectedness First Nation people perceive between animals, people, and the natural world. No human is the same, so beliefs, symbols, and values are complex.
This has much to do with the diversity exhibited across the different Indigenous communities present in Canada.
The unique ways these localities view the land and take value from it are rooted in their diverse spiritual ties with nature. This diversity is forged by their distinct experiences with the land and is directly related to how their communities were able to develop over time.
Though nowadays, the land is viewed as a fundamental asset for sustainable economic development, it goes beyond that for Indigenous people. Land rights are essential to their self-determination and represent their people’s fight to protect and uphold the identity of their culture.
Their devotion, reliance and respect towards the earth profoundly reflect how they honour their ancestors' way of life. Canada must build opportunities that allow communities to uplift the lessons rooted in their detailed histories and continue the teachings that are passed down from generation to generation.
Like a foreign and wild landscape, Indigenous cultures beam of a radiant life that is genuinely representative of nature’s opulent and colourful beauty, and they deserve the right to express freely and honour their beliefs.
In Canada, June is National Indigenous History Month.
It’s a time to acknowledge and bring awareness towards Indigenous peoples, their cultures, histories, and incredible ways of life.
We hope our readers could take this month as an opportunity to recognize the beautiful antiquity Indigenous cultures have with the land by illuminating some of the importance it holds for their education, spiritual teachings, community resources, etc. I wonder if you see some of the small similarities I see.
With June coming to a close, Big Bush would like to say that this month should not be the only time to acknowledge Indigenous culture, issues, traditions, etc. Canada must have active conversations and address problems if positive change is to happen. We can do better, and we need to.
With that being said, believe us when we say that nothing we write can begin to express the level of admiration we have for these people and the skills they have practiced since the dawn of time.
Thank you for reading! For more exciting, outdoor content, check out our Instagram @bigbushcompany