WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Anishinabe elder and spiritual leader Dave Courchene will open the G8 World Religions Summit with a message of peace, prayer and a call to action. The summit, attended by nearly 100 world religious leaders, is being held from June 21 – 23 at the University of Winnipeg.
Courchene, also known as Neeghani Aki Innini (Leading Earth Man) has traveled internationally, carrying a message of hope and peace, and sharing ancient indigenous knowledge that is the foundation of mankind’s relationship to the Mother Earth.
“What we are presently witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico is truly tragic,” Courchene said. “Nature has a way of showing us the brutality that can be found in man. We cannot continue to treat the Earth with disrespect. Together we must find a way to live in this world that reflects love and respect for all life. We must find a way to connect with spirit that can show us, teach us, inspire us, and guide each of us in how we should walk on the Earth.”
Courchene warned that the greed reflected in our societies and economic structures has had detrimental impacts on the Earth, the animals and the people. These impacts have created a great imbalance that is affecting the water on which all life depends.
“On June 21, I ask that we use the element of water to carry the spirit of our dreams of hope and peace into this world. We must together offer our gratitude to the Earth and all the blessings we receive to support all life.
“I propose we do a water ceremony – that each of us get a bottle of clean water, hold it close to our hearts and offer a prayer. Through the water, send a message of gratitude to the Earth, and to all water of the Earth that has been affected and contaminated. Send your love to the water and to Mother Earth. We owe our existence to the Earth.” A video message of Courchene’s appeal can be viewed online.
Courchene is the founder of the Turtle Lodge, an indigenous place of learning, healing and sharing for all people located on the Sagkeeng First Nation. Built in 2002, based on a vision received, the Turtle Lodge is founded upon spiritual, land-based teachings that bring balance to life. It was built for the children – the center of our lives. The lodge’s fundamental goal is Mino-Pi-Mati-Si-Win – A Good and Peaceful Way of Life. The Turtle Lodge teachings are based on the Seven Sacred Laws and the Eight Paths of the Medicine Wheel, the ancient universal values of the First Peoples of America.
Courchene and the Turtle Lodge are part of the organizing committee for the summit, and will host the opening ceremonies as well as send delegates to participate, including Katherine Whitecloud, a respected former chief of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, superintendent of education, and recent vice chief of the Assembly of First Nations who is working to ensure the language and teachings of her ancestors is honored and perpetuated.
Rising star and aboriginal singer-songwriter Shy-Anne Hovorka will have the honor of performing her new hit “Can’t Change the World” at the opening ceremonies with a delegation of children. Her video, released five days ago, made it to 12th on the top Canadian YouTube videos viewed this week.
Nearly 100 religious leaders from Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, United States, and Africa are attending the world summit representing a diversity of faiths including Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Islamic, Shinto and indigenous spirituality traditions.
Opening ceremonies and the entire summit proceedings will air live online so that people worldwide can tune in.