Grandmother Christine Vincent
edited by Laura Fraser & Joanna McMillan
This year of 2021 is a year of great uncertainty for the whole planet. For many it is a world full of grief as family members succumb to the pandemic and pass on to the spirit world to be with our great Creator.
Those who have read my pamphlet about the peace tree will be saddened to learn that it too has passed into the spirit world. It left us with a message of a great peace coming to us all. That significance will be explained in the following pages.
In 2020 we saw world leaders contract the virus and some who have been humbled by it. Nations have become divided and populations have gathered in protest to speak loudly about race inequality and other social injustice issues. The USA presidential elections caused a great deal of turmoil because the population had become very polarized.
We are seeing that the most vulnerable of our population, the aged, are living in institutions that are most at risk from the virus. It is disheartening to witness our leaders putting profit over the well-being and even the lives of the most vulnerable. Other segments of the population are struggling with the uncertainty of their businesses, homes and jobs.
Technology provides us with instant global communication. As we watch, learn and try to understand what is going on we rise up to question the wisdom or lack of it from our world leaders. We rejoice that so many young people are taking the lead on the momentous struggle for justice and equality as they stand tall to make their mark on the great transformation our world is experiencing in our evolution.
We watch blame games unfold as the fall out from the pandemic forces us to look in the mirror at the reflection of what humanity has created.
We are on the cusp of walking another path. The reflection from the past, the voices of our ancestors lead us towards a united world that was prophesied would one day come. The peace tree symbolized this. The little white pine tree was a beacon representing home and light for a brighter and better tomorrow. It was a constant reminder that the human spirit prevails even when faced with what seems like insurmountable odds.
In 2020, the white pine peace tree died. Victoria Island was home to the white pine tree and is part of the sacred Chaudière site, also known as Asinabka or Akikodjiwan. This is unceded Algonquin land. The island was closed and completely fenced off from everyone by the National Capital Commission (NCC). The Commission deemed it necessary to do this to restore the shoreline and to decontaminate the island from past industrial usage. Without adequate consultation, the NCC uprooted the white pine in the middle of December of 2019 and replanted it only a few meters away. It was not until February 2020 that it was discovered by the Free the Falls (FTF) group, of which I am a member, that the tree had been moved. Come spring, members of FTF periodically visited the little pine to check on its condition. Unfortunately, there was a steady decline in the health of the tree. By the end of the summer, there was no doubt that the beautiful pine tree, now 6 feet tall and thriving where it had originally been planted, had died.
A member of FTF wrote letters to the NCC asking permission to water, prune and fertilize the tree. They said they would take care of the tree and told us not to go to the tree. We went anyway. Some of the group even went by canoe to give the tree water during periods of drought. The NCC did respond to our suggestion to put an orange snow fence around the tree. According to an Indigneous elder, the colour orange is healing for a green tree.
It was sad. A final goodbye to the little pine tree was offered by burning its brown branches at our weekly Spirit Calling ceremony overlooking the sacred Akikpautik waterfalls (now known as Chaudière Falls).
The peace tree was fulfilling the intention of bringing people together. In one ceremony leaders from the United, Anglican and Catholic churches plus synagogues and mosques came to the tree to pray together. This demonstrated how the tree showed we are all part of one humanity. In unique ways our diversity can combine and become stronger as a unified whole.
The white pine peace tree was planted in June 2015 in a beautiful ceremony on Victoria Island. At that time, it stood about two feet tall. The planting was witnessed by 100 or so people representing all colours and many of the religions of our planet. On the same day, another sister peace tree was planted in Myanmar.
In July, one month later, a dying Canada goose was discovered in close proximity to the tree. Sadly, the goose died. It was buried at the base of the little white pine. There is great significance to this. Spiritual leader and traditional Algonquin Chief, William Commanda had shared the message or “medicine” of the goose with many before he passed on to the Spirit World. The medicine is shared leadership. Grandfather Commanda said “the only way that the world would someday come to peace was through shared leadership”. Geese fly south in the familiar “V” formation. When the lead goose tires it goes to the back of the line. Another goose quickly takes its place at the point of the “V” to continue the flight. There is never a fight for leadership. They just do it.
Two baby squirrels who had been knocked out of their nest were also buried with the goose. This was done in loving memory of Grandfather since he belonged to the squirrel clan.
Together the tree, the goose and the baby squirrels tell a powerful story and can be likened to a monument to peace. It may not look like the standard monument made of bronze or gold often depicting a historical figure or event relating to a military endeavour. Nonetheless the tree was a living monument to peace. Though the tree, goose and squirrels are gone the love offered to the tree throughout its short life will live on forever.
In 1995, indigenous elders on Victoria Island shared teachings and the prophecy of the Great Peace Tree. Previously, there had been another ancient white pine on the Quebec side of the river planted by the Peacemaker (Deganawida) and Hiawatha. Legends say many tribes made voyages to meet under the canopy of that great tree on the banks of the mighty Kitchissippi River, now known as the Ottawa River.
At that time the people buried their weapons under that Peace Tree in honour of the medicine the tree brought to all. That tree as well as the little white pine on Victoria Island suffered much the same fate. Both were killed by policies enacted by the dominant white culture of the land.
Grandfather Commanda had a vision of a spruce tree bringing peace to all nations. There are many stories and legends throughout history dating back to ancient times of the significance of trees relating to the coming of a time of peace.
When I buried the goose I had a vision of what the future may look like when we all work together as one. Following I describe my vision as well as the teachings of the elders, and prophecies of the past.
It is said that the people who live on Turtle Island, otherwise known as North America, will, after many years of conflict and turmoil, come together in a lasting peace that will continue on for 10,000 years. Turtle Island will become reunited. All peoples of all races of the world will participate in the coming great peace contributing their own unique gifts.
A great peace tree is to be a central part of this coming peace as humanity comes together. People from all over turtle island will gather around their local peace trees and watch the great ceremony of peace as it takes place under our peace tree. The entire world will participate in and celebrate the coming of a new time of renewal and hope for generations to come.
Humanity is one large jigsaw puzzle with diverse pieces that need to fit together in harmony and balance. It is humanity as a whole who will come together as one voice, bringing the right relations to live on mother earth in a good way in mutual respect for one another. This can be reached by living the message of shared leadership that we learn from the goose.
The countries of the world will come together, each acknowledging their own dark side (e.g. wars) and work towards a lasting global peace. In particular, the people of Canada are now facing the hard truth of their genocide against the Indigenous Peoples. Can Canada as a nation face the facts, go on the path to healing and also bring the world together for a great peace? It is the people of the nation who must believe in and want peace. The world is watching.
The Rainbow Prophecy foretold of the emergence of a fifth race beyond the four main races of white, black, red and yellow. The fifth race is the race of mixed blood people who are the future peacekeepers because of their ability to understand different cultures. These people, the rainbow warriors, are communicators who promote understanding, acceptance and respect between peoples. The emergence of the rainbow warriors is hastening because of the numerous migrations of people caused by conflict and climate change.
As I buried the goose I had a vision of people of all countries and races gathered around the peace tree, with her branches spread out like an umbrella, giving living shelter to all of the delegates. As was done hundreds of years ago, weapons were symbolically laid at the base of the tree in a gesture of peace. In the background the Peace Tower of Parliament Hill can be seen. A declaration of world peace will be signed by all world leaders under her towering branches. The bells on the peace Tower will ring out in a song for peace. It will be televised for the world to see. The delegates will join hands with the Algonquin nation, who are the host nation of the sacred site, and dance around the peace tree in celebration. Those who cannot be here will dance around their local peace tree, since many are planted on Turtle Island.
It was also prophesied many years ago that the eagle of North America and the condor of South America would once more come together in a symbol of peace. In my vision, I saw both the condor and the eagle flying together circling high over the peace tree. My impression of this vision is that you can destroy living things, as in the case of the peace tree in the physical world, but you cannot destroy the truth of the spiritual world. It is the spiritual link between the two worlds that promotes balance and harmony and gives us guidance on how to live. There are no boundaries in the spiritual world. It is the physical world that places boundaries between what is good and what is not right. We have the choice of seeing or of being blind, regardless we have to live with the consequences.
All this will take place on the land that we currently call Victoria Island, which is part of the sacred site known by the Indigenous People as Akikodjiwan or Asinabka. This sacred land has been a meeting place for all Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island for thousands of years. Today, as envisioned by traditional elder William Commanda, it is a meeting place for all nations.
Canada, as a multicultural country, has many mixed race people. These are the peacekeepers who recognize that they must take action and not wait for the governments who tend to drag their feet. They don’t argue over who was right or wrong because that would defeat the purpose of the peace tree. People need to swallow their pride, work together and find solutions that work for all. This will allow common sense to prevail and good will to reign. This will allow peace to come for generations.
We the people of the world want change. We have asked, prayed and protested for peace and justice. Change is here. The spirit of the little white pine tree watches as events unfold. It is up to us to strive for peace and to raise our consciousness to one of unity, so the well-loved peace tree, which was growing strong, did not die in vain.
The Peace Tree’s Message Will Continue
The pine tree is also a monument and spokesperson for all trees who have been cut or burned due to white colonial policies fueled by greed and profit. Its important legacy cannot be underestimated.
We need healthy forests and abundant jungles as they are the lungs of Mother Earth. Trees supply the air all creatures breathe. Without vast areas of forests, all life on the planet is in peril.
The peace tree is gone, yet from the realm of spirit it calls for urgent action. It calls for all of us to come together in shared leadership to protect the trees and create sustainable practices to harvest only the trees we need. It calls for our creativity to explore beyond the limitations we think we are ruled by. We are called to revisit our original purpose as caretakers of “the garden”.
It is important we honour and listen to Indigenous wisdom. Elders from all Indigenous cultures have shared their prophecies about this time. Our choice between greed, profit, technology that threatens and destroys nature or support and collaboration with the natural world is now being called upon.
As is being shown to us during the pandemic lockdowns, it does not take much for nature to restore its homeostasis. We see clearly what is required of humanity to heal the earth and ourselves. We have only to remember and put into action the messages and legacy of the peace tree.
Unanswered questions or your possible role:
What does peace mean to you?
What would your voice or actions do to direct the planet towards peace?
At the end of each and every day can you ask, “ What did I do for peace today?”
Can you look truth in the face and find your inner peace?
Sometimes the truth is difficult to discern. The year 2020 has made that undeniably true. The spinners of deceptive webs of lies have some of us spinning out of control looking for the anchor of a remembered normal. Look into your mind and see the little white pine. Its shadow guards the remains of the goose and baby squirrels. Embrace that tree as you would a dear friend and offer gratitude for its medicine and gift of ultimate sacrifice. Look into your heart and embody the message of peace, unity and love that will forever be a beacon of light to those willing to lay down their weapons, hold hands and dance the round dance around the little white pine peace tree.
From my heart to your heart
Grandmother Christine Vincent is a Metis knowledge keeper and storyteller. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario on unceded, unsurrendered Algonquin territory.
Laura Fraser finished her undergrad in psychology and law at Carleton University in 2019. She is starting her masters in Psychology at Carleton in fall of 2021.
Joanna McMillan is a long time dissident and environmental activist. At present, she is mainly retired although, on a part-time basis, still cares for the elderly in their homes as a PSW. Her environmental work continues as an affiliate in FTF.