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Isabelle Bernard - WINDS Scholar Essay
2022 WINDS Scholar

As a Wolastoqey student, I truly believe that the 

greatest gift native culture has provided to the

global community is their ability to thrive as a

community in harmony with mother earth. In

native culture, mother earth provides the people

with food and clean water sources, materials for

homes, clothes and tools. Indigenous communities 

have always had a special connection to nature

and have a great respect for the gifts it provides. 

They always made sure to utilize earth’s resources with great care to preserve some for future generations. To this day, it is no surprise that the environment suffers from overconsumption, industrial development, pollutants and so much more. All these listed factors have a direct effect on the health of all citizens because it erodes the quality and quantity of the resources gifted by mother earth. The traditional knowledge of Indigenous people can be shared with the global community to develop sustainable initiatives to prevent irreversible changes to the ecosystem ensuring mother earth will be able to provide a quality of life for our future generation.   

  In addition, when Europeans first arrived in America, they mostly relied on Indigenous peoples for their survival. As colonization grew, the relationship between European settlers and the Indigenous people quickly interfered and impacted native culture. Thereafter, over the past century, indigenous people have experienced many disruptions, cultural colonization, and forced relocation. To this day, because of colonization, many people are unaware that the contributions of Indigenous people improved the well-being of the global community on different aspects. For example, native people always lived in a well-developed community. They had great systems in place that fulfilled all their needs. After colonization, Europeans began to take Indigenous resources and knowledge to quickly built an economy for them selves. Indigenous people also played a great part in the development of medicine. For example, dental care, certain medical tools, and cures for diseases were initially brought by indigenous people. Furthermore, I think that the values and culture of the native people have a great part in the contributions they have gifted to the global community. Even through all the hard times and assimilation, the Native culture is still alive in communities because we are resilient people. Our elders’ priorities were to make sure that the tradition, beliefs and values where transmitted through future generations. It’s truly because of the constant resilience that we are now blessed to still have our culture. For our generation, I think that our job is to teach the global community about our culture and values. Specifically, to educate them about the history of the land where they now call their home so that they can be allies in the reconciliation with native people. I think that the beliefs of the native community integrate great values that are relatable to everyone. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about our values is how important family is. Personally, I believe that our desire to stick together through hard times is something that is a great quality to share with the global community. It shows how much we have caring hearts and how we, as a community, believe that the basis of success in life is to maintain healthy relationships with each other, the culture and the nature. Our strong and positive link to our culture and mother earth is something that we must be proud of and continue to share with the global community.