This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands.
The next time you are outdoors, take a moment to stand and truly feel of the land beneath your feet. If you concentrate really hard you may be able to detect the infinitesimal movement of the earth as it moves through time and space.
Now, more than ever, we crave the time and space to connect with the world around us, to feel the earth beneath our feet and a deep connection with the land, and all it provides for us. It’s time to forge your own connection with the land, in your own way.
Educate Yourself about First Nations peoples of Canada
An important firs step is to recognize the original inhabitants of this land and learn more about them and their cultures. This land is treaty land and has a history to uncover.
By educating yourself and by recognizing the traditional territories you stand on and what they mean to you, you take a small but important step towards honouring the Indigenous Peoples who have lived on Turtle Island (aka: North America) since long before colonization.
And as you stand on and appreciate a forest trail, paddle in a lake or river, or breathe in the fresh scent of pine needles, remember this:
‘Ontario's Highlands’ is on traditional Algonquin territory and is acknowledged by Indigenous Peoples as unceded. To the southeast, Ontario's Highlands is also on Mohawk territory. To the west/southwest, Ontario's Highlands is on Ojibwe territory. We are grateful that Indigenous Peoples have been stewards of this land and beyond from time immemorial. We are called to treat this land, its waterways, plants, animals, stories and its Peoples, with honour and respect. All my relations.
Sleep Under the Stars
It’s a fact that camping brings us closer to the land than almost any other experience. When camping we are not just visiting in a natural environment, we are living in it, at the mercy of the vagaries of weather, insects, and wildlife.
When we sleep outdoors, we are able to see the stars, hear the whispers of the wind in the forest, and the many night animals scurrying about. And then when we cradle that steaming cup of coffee in the morning and huddle closer to the fire, we are reminding ourselves of all that we take for granted, and all the land means to us.
Step into Nature
It’s an old wives’ tale that the cure for jetlag is to take your shoes and socks off and walk on the earth, to feel it moving beneath you. This is not just what myths are made of, it’s beneficial because it helps to ground us in the now, connect us with the earth.
Fortunately, you don’t always have to take off your shoes and socks to get the benefit of this experience. Just spending time in nature has been scientifically proven to relieve stress and remind us of the eternal cycle that exists in the natural world, and of which we are a part.
Get a Different Perspective
If you really want to connect with the land, we recommend getting higher to get a new perspective. The old adage that you “can’t see the forest for the trees” is true, it’s hard to get a full grasp of how small we are in the world when we don’t have an understanding of how big that world really is. Climb hills and cliffs, and man-made towers to see the world from a fresh perspective and understand our place in it.
Remember there is no right way or wrong way to connect with the Earth. No matter which you choose, you are moving in the right direction, towards a connected, grounded, and respectful relationship with the land and world around you.