One Body, One Mind, One Heart
submitted by Sue Simatos, First Nation, Inuit and Métis liaison
The Great Law of Peace is explained in the book “Hiawatha and the Peacemaker” by Robbie Robertson who is of Kanienkeha:ka (Mohawk) and Cayuga descent.
The teachings are described as follows in an excerpt from the book:
“Hiawatha was a brave Mohawk warrior who has lost his family in a battle and wants revenge against the evil Chief who has provoked fighting among the five Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) nations. But then one day the Peacemaker appears. He is a prophet who wishes to unite the warring nations. He chooses Hiawatha to help him communicate his message of peace: a new law that will not only change the ways of the Iroquois people forever but also transform Hiawatha’s own mind and heart.” Everyone followed the Peacemaker to a tall white pine where Hiawatha pronounced” People of all nations must now come together as one. Beneath this tree we shall bury all our weapons of war. This will symbolize the end of our fighting.” The men uprooted the white pine and threw their weapons into the hole. “Now we will replant this tree, and it shall be called the Tree of Peace”
The Peacemaker then said “As Five Nations, we will bring forth peace, power, and righteousness. The women of our tribes shall appoint the Chiefs, and as one people we shall live under the protection of the Great Law. All voices will be heard as we now vote before action is taken”
The White Pine Tree of Peace has recently been added to the Montreal flag. The White Pine Tree represents the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) nations and the Great Law of Peace.
Dorset Students learned the first step to becoming peaceful is to learn about the “Ohénton Karihwatéhkwen” “The words that come before all others,” an ancient message of peace and appreciation of mother earth and all her inhabitants. This is very important for the Kanienkeha:ka people.
Students were guided using the book “Giving Thanks” by Jake Swamp Tekaronianeken, founder of the Tree of Peace Society and international organization promoting peace and conservation.
Dorset student Peace Pals then lead the school in a ceremony honouring the planting of a White Pine Tree donated to the school by a local family. They read a Territorial Land Acknowledgement they had created themselves. Each Peace Pal then spoke about an important gift from Mother Nature and then placed an offering beside the White Pine tree in honour, gratitude and appreciation. They also placed some painted scribble rocks they had painted as a symbol of kindness.
Students then introduced the honoured guests.
Tealey Kasennisaks Normandin, Sam Ojeda and Vero Veroux then performed a Tree planting ceremony beginning with the Ohénton Karihwatéhkwen”. Honouring Mother Earth and all her inhabitants and bringing in the four directions. North, south, east and west. They circled the White Pine Tree three times to give their honour and respect.
Sam Ojeda danced men’s traditional dances and invited students to join in as part of the ceremony.
The ceremony ended with the whole school joining hands in a round dance.
This project would not have been possible without the collaboration of the following people:
Team: Jay Thieverge, Nancy Harwood, Stefani Gervasi, Consultant: Sue Simatos
Guests who performed the ceremony: Tealey Kasennisaks Normandin, Sam Ojeda and Vero Veroux.