eSpirit Oct 8

Inspiration

I love this time of year with its reminders that we have so much to be thankful for. As the seasons shift we are inspired by the vibrant colours and abundant local harvest. We are also inspired by people. Please take a moment and read about Michael Etherington who will be our guest speaker this Sunday. Below is part of an article from The Star 2106/07/09 “6 Torontonians on the decisions that changed their lives” by Zoe McNight.

with gratitude, Karen

In his early 20s, Michael Etherington moved to Toronto on a whim, but was torn between the city and the North. Visiting family on Nunavut’s Rankin Inlet, he was told Inuit elder Mariano Aupilardjuk wanted to meet the young Cree man from Moosonee, Ont. 

Aupilardjuk, a fierce promoter and defender of traditional language and culture, displayed three stones and told Etherington in Inuktitut the meaning behind them: one for the old ways, one for modern life, and one for the way forward. (Aupilardjuk died in 2012 at 89.)

The elder predicted Etherington, now in his 30’s, would become a great educator. At the time, he was stocking shelves and dreaming of being a famous musician. But he was moved by the elder’s wisdom and patient countenance. Something clicked.

Etherington got serious. He went on to become an aboriginal youth worker, speaker and cultural program manager of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. He promotes “principle-based thinking,” drawing on indigenous values and identity to address contemporary issues in an urban place.  

He has collected his own trio of symbolic items: an eagle feather, representing the struggle facing his people; a hand drum with no skin, for the gap between traditional values and modern life; a tamarack goose decoy, for the importance of land teachings. “As indigenous people, we are still vibrant,” he says. “Still resilient, still here, and still contributing.”