Saturday July 02, 2016
How Blair Stonechild reclaimed his Indigenous spirituality
When he was six years old, Blair Stonechild's parents dropped him off at residential school in Saskatchewan. While he was there in the late 1950's and early 60's, he would learn that holding on to his people's spirituality would land him in hell.
"We'd hear that our people were bad people. There was even a little chart on the wall that would show people in First Nations dress going to a place where there was a lot of fire, basically hell. So you know I really had a lot of trouble with that."
Stonechild left residential school at the age of fifteen. He has devoted his life to education, earning his B.A. at McGill and his Ph.D. at the University of Regina. Now a professor of Indigenous Studies at First Nations University of Canada, he is working to 'decolonize' Indigenous spirituality.
Stonechild says that means "bringing back what to me are very natural, sensible concepts of spiritual relationship to the environment, recognizing that everything has a spirit."
"When the Elders pray, they use this expression - 'all of our relations'. And they're not just talking about human relations. They're talking about everything."
Stonechild explores that concept and more in his book The Knowledge Seeker: Embracing Indigenous Spirituality.