What is the one constant that we all experience, that is universal to all life? Change. In Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, “The only lasting truth is Change, God is Change.” This is the universal truth and foundation upon which the newly founded religion of Earthseed, as written by the main character of the book, is based. This resonated with me on several levels as an Anishnaabekwe, a freedom seeker descendant, a life giver, water carrier, daughter, mother, artist and Mshkikiikwe. Change is innate in all of us and in all that we touch. Several years ago, I gathered with knowledge keepers who spoke of a coming time of great change. They spoke of illnesses, literally and metaphorically, that would visit our territory and Turtle Island and how with this, change would occur. We were instructed to gather medicines, to carry our medicines on us at all times and to give thanks. Change was not to be feared but embraced as we carried our medicines and our ways with us. That time of change was not imminent and I laid down those medicines and teachings, until now.
In Everything is Right Here, I present my metaphorical survival bag, as influenced by conversations surrounding Butler’s Parable of the Sower, that our collective, The Odeimin Runners Club, conducted throughout the last year. In these conversations we discussed our approaches to surviving the socio, political and environmental context worldwide. Through these discussions, I was reminded of an interview with an Anishnaabe Elder, and her words very clearly spoke of my approach to my survival bag, ”Everything we need is right here! All we have to do is give thanks.” In giving thanks, we acknowledge that there is an interdependence amongst all our relations. I am not separate from the plant that provides medicinal properties that could heal me. I am not separate from the land that provides sustenance for all. I am not separate from the water that nourishes me and all my relations. I am not separate from the adult cicada that emerges from earth, 17 years later. I am not separate from my ancestors who are in my DNA and the land. I am not separate from the stardust that lights up the night sky. Like the strawberry or heartberry - upon which teachings, the Odeimin Runners Club, were founded– a vast web of interconnectedness exists on the surface and deep within.
I explore this framework of understanding through my film, which I hand processed using flowers. I chose to work with processing in dandelions, a plant that is not native to my territory, but is indicative of the great change that came with the first guests in our traditional territories. I also chose to process with trilliums which are indigenous to our territory and whose medicinal properties were used in childbirth and for healing of wounds. The plant itself is unique in its growth and longevity. At the center of my metaphorical bag is cultural knowledge that is deeply woven into the land and offered up to me in aid, as I navigate and adapt to change. As represented through my dress, made of an emergency survival blanket, I carry and wear that knowledge through change. I accept these gifts and the responsibilities that come with them, for everything I touch, I change.
The Process: The film was shot using a 16mm Bolex camera hand processed with dandelions and trilliums. I used found NASA space images and phytograms developed through our workshop with Phillip Hoffman and the Film Farm. The phytograms were developed using strawberries and other wild medicines from my home territory of Saugeen, as well as copper jingles from my jingle dress.