A Vision of Change

Posted by on Feb 16, 2013 in Opinion


I had a vision. I kept it to myself for a while, then shared it in little moments on Facebook, on Twitter.

 But it’s time to share it, as undeveloped as it may be, I feel that it’s right. And there’s something in me that won’t allow me to stay silent about it any longer. Take it or leave it, I’m releasing it now.

In my vision I saw something new. Something like government but unlike it completely.  I saw true representation for The People of Turtle Island, starting right here in Kanata.

I saw three levels of governance: The Elders Circle; The Congress of Spokespeople; The Youth Assembly

I saw the Youth give the dreams and the vision: the hope and the energy.

I saw the Elders give the wisdom and perspective: the guidance and calm.

I saw the Congress of Spokespeople combine these things into action, carrying out the will of the people.

Where did they come from? They didn’t run for office or position, they were nominated by their regions, their communities. In fact, attempting to campaign for a position immediately disqualified the person.

They were asked to serve and they served. It was all volunteer, no money paid. They served for one year. There was equal representation by the sexes, whether one spirit or two-spirit.

Who was a member?  Anyone who claimed the smallest drop of Indigenous blood. No blood quantum discrimination. You could be 1/64th for all it mattered. But you had to claim it. Stand up and say, “Yes. I am one of The People.”

And you had to give precedence to Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Honouring, and Sharing. Ceremony and smudge, discussion rather than heated debate.

There were only three directions to follow:

  • Promote the well being of the earth, water, sky
  • Promote the well being of communities
  • Promote education & peaceful relations

Anyone who went against these directions disqualified themselves from having a voice, as there were those who wanted to subvert the process, to act for other parties with special interests. The only special interest here was the Common Good.

This organization had no official powers, was not part of government, was separate from Indian Act governance. It had no funding. Not from Ottawa, not from Corporations. It was run through service. It made use of all our modern technologies.

And before it began there was a Large Assembly, a Gathering. At the Gathering the people voiced their thoughts, they spoke their concerns and hopes and cautions. They shared their visions.

A Document was conceived. It was a plan for the road ahead: a Seven Generations Path. It was made available for everyone physically, and digitally. A practical, spiritual document. It was painted on hide. It was made into songs. It was a gift for the people now, and the people to come.

It detailed the way we should walk forward in every aspect of life: Economic, Political, Financial, and so on. It showed a new way to think about Kanata and it’s relation to the world and All Our Relations.

That is what I saw and share with you today. Can it happen? Will it happen?

LTW_INM_PaquetteIt must happen. In my vision it already existed, already thrived.

I ask that our leaders step forward and step up. I ask that those who know how to organize such matters devote some small part of your time to making it happen. There is no room for negativity here, no room for lateral violence, for hate, for anger. If those are the gifts you bring, perhaps you should reconsider your approach.

Bring only the best of you, the greatest version of you, the version of you that is becoming free from colonization and the culture of fear and blame.

You are standing on the precipice of a great change. Peace, organization, and a giving, healing spirit.

That’s our gift to everyone and to our generations to come and it starts here.

It starts now.

Light the flame.

Light the Fire.

Open yourself to your greatest possibility.

Are you ready?

Then bring forward your best and let the dreaming and the creation begin.

Hiy Hiy


Follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronpaquette

Aaron Paquette is one of Canada’s leading First Nations artists and the founder of Cree8 Success, a philosophy of injecting creativity into the practices and lives of youth, teachers and enterprise. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Aaron has been creating art for the past 20 years. He apprenticed and has become both a Cathedral Stained Glass artist and a Goldsmith, influences of which can be seen in the line and structure of his paintings – displayed in various galleries throughout the country.  His work is frequently exhibited in galleries across Canada and he works as a guest curator for The Art Gallery of Alberta, St. Albert’s public Gallery: Profiles, and the McMullen Gallery at the University of Alberta Hospital. He currently has a traveling exhibit with the Art Gallery of Alberta called Halfbreed Mythology.


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  1. Tony Belcourt
    February 16, 2013

    This is a very bold vision. Those who want to keep us in boxes will not see the vision because they are locked in their boxes. They will see this vision as “threat”. A threat to their vision. A threat to the control they want to place on people within their “box”. But this is not about them. This is about those who appreciate this vision and want to embrace it. As the title of your painting states: It’s time to be light to the world.

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013

      So true. Lucky for us (and the rest of the world) we know how to exist in the hoop, the sphere, the round. Boxes disappear. Everything has a natural season, and it’s time for us.

  2. Line Merrette (fem_progress)
    February 16, 2013

    Will repost with proper credit.

    Your vision is inspiring.

    And here is mine: all women from the 4 quadrants (the Red, the Yellow, the White and the Black) will unite and rise to defend Mother Earth.

    For our children For our grandchildren. And their grandchildren. Seven generations.

    Hear the drums of our determination.


    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013

      Hiy hiy, Line

  3. It’s time to be Light to the World « Au courant
    February 16, 2013

    […] This from Aaron Paquette, the great First Nations artist and visionary. […]

  4. Kenneth Tomlin
    February 16, 2013

    As practical and simple as “liberty, fraternity and equality” slogan of the French Revolution. Your proposal, rooted in the aboriginal world-view–beyond European Christian/philosophical ideological thinking–promises more thorough transformation with none of the violence.

    Now that your vision is “out there,” perhaps it will have the power to dissolve the walls of the boxes referred to in Tony Belcourt’s previous comment.

    It has caused me to share with you. And that’s a start: a little opening in one of the walls.

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013

      Indeed. We will all move forward together bit by bit until it becomes an unstoppable flow of intention and action.

  5. Jody
    February 17, 2013

    Aaron, I like how you think. This is a way of living that I could certainly support and I believe it is equitable for everyone. Finally, someone with vision! And I think you are the perfect person to begin implementing this vision!

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013

      I wish! I’m just an artist, I have no idea how to truly organize something like this. We all need to pull together and make it happen. Tell everyone you know and ask them to tell everyone they know and so on!

  6. Augie kochuten
    February 17, 2013

    Hoh let us go forward…

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013

      Forward together. Love it

  7. Reyna Crow
    February 17, 2013

    So glad you chose to share this now. This is a good model for our communities organizing, educational, and advocacy efforts. So anxious to share this and talk about how we do it.

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013

      Yes! The more we talk and plan and act, the more real it becomes.

  8. Todd Giihlgiigaa DeVries
    February 17, 2013

    My elder teacher has often wrote and talked about a talking circle. A traditional way of decision-making in a Haida community.

    Decision-making was not, in most instances a highly formalized process. Usually, it was simply one wherein the House Chief and other male members of his “family” sat around the fire-place discussing current events and other matters. Through a process of going around the circle the men generally arrived at a consensus.

    In this process there were generally four (4) rules and no “Chair”;

    1. Speak only to the topic or issue at hand; and,
    2. When speaking to an issue or problem, be subjective, i.e., speak to it from your own point of view “it will affect me… my family…”, etc.; and,
    3. Bury the hatchet, i.e., if you are angry at anyone, leave it outside. This is not the time for pointing fingers or making accusations.; and,
    4. No stepping on lips, i.e., be aware that others are waiting their turn to speak and, when a person is speaking, that person has an absolute right to speak within these four rules..

    During this process the women sit in an outer-circle and listen. At any point when the men are unable to reach a decision or are unable to resolve a problem, the House Chief stand, raises his hands, palms up as though he is holding something precious and addresses the oldest of the women,

    “Sisters advise us.”

    When advise is requested it must be taken when given and acted upon. The men are not permitted act in a manner that changes, negates or otherwise alters the letter or the spirit of the advise given by the women.


    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013


      Hiy hiy

  9. Barbara Ronson- McNichol
    February 17, 2013

    Thanks Aaron,

    This is a beautiful vision. I really like that there is no money paid and people are nominated from communities and the vision is for the well-being of mother Earth, healthy Communities, peace and education. My one question would be what do you say to people who think they have 0% Indigenous blood, but whose families have been in Kanata as long as they can remember, or who just really prefer this new vision of government. Can they too stand up and say yes, I am of the People?
    Chi Miigwech.

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013

      Why not?

      While this is a way for Indigenous people to reclaim and strengthen their voice, all people who support that would indeed be welcome!

  10. sarah mackenzie
    February 17, 2013

    Crying–with goosebumps. I love this, Aaron, it’s a manifesto for a new nation!

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013

      That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? If we can see it clearly, it will be. In my mind and heart I can see it already

  11. wayne james
    February 17, 2013

    hi…the theme of “common good”, is to be embraced. Your words are ones i also honour.
    I am not aware that i have indigenous blood in me. I do note however, that i was born here, into a place who’s spirit has not died. That my blood harmonizes to an ancient wisdom of being. That this place is a part of me, that we are all brothers.

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013

      Everyone is welcome in the hoop. 🙂

  12. Billi Jean Miller
    February 17, 2013

    What a beautiful vision….. let it be.

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 17, 2013

      Yes, let it become! 🙂

  13. Mandy Watson
    February 17, 2013

    Beautiful. My heart sings.
    I too want this. For Mother Earth and Father Sky, and all us im-perfects who live between them!
    How to spread this? How to breathe it into being?
    One idea I have is to present it to our politicians and ask them why not.

    May I?

    I too understand that what we need is a new plan, not a re-tweaking of the broken one that doesn’t work. Honestly, I’m mostly curious about what they would say.
    And of course I will pass this on to my friends, and breathe what I can into the being of a world guided by these ideals – specific and spiritual.

  14. Jeanne Rioux
    February 18, 2013

    I offer my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude that you have brought this vision of yours out into full view for us to see, feel and dream on!! This brings joy to my being in a way that gives me renewed hope and faith that we could, indeed, bring health and sanity back to this precious land. I will do whatever spirit guides me to do in order to see this vision come to fruit in the time I have left on this plain in this lifetime. I don’t carry indigenous blood, as far as I know, but I do feel, somehow, and have long felt, that I am here to make a difference in how we all live with and love each other and how we can learn from each other, and grow with and support each other to bring out our true potential as whole, perfect and complete beings on this land, where we are all free, healthy and living in true abundance, joy and peace, always in accordance with sacred laws of nature and spirit.
    Hai, hai.

  15. Tonya Bates
    February 18, 2013

    Mitakuye Oyasin and it is time to stand as one, to speak as one, to live together as one. It is time to heal past old wounds that keep the walls between the people. No need for concerns over % of blood ancestry or requirement of papers to prove what is in the heart. No need for the all mighty $$ to guide or reward the ones who govern. I have felt this most of my life. All that is needed is for “Indians of All Colors” (and I choose these words in order to challenge all to look past labels and old wounds) to unite and stand as ONE for the good of All. The wisdom of the Indigenous is the last link that we as humans have to the way in which we were all intended to walk this earth, the way in which i believe all once walked upon the Mother. Most forgot these ways long ago, but the Indigenous are the last to remember and the ones who must now share this knowledge in order to lead the human race back to where we once were. Thank you for being brave enough to share this vision.

    • Mandy Watson
      February 18, 2013

      Tonya, there is a common name to call us – it is People. Or maybe Humans.
      I agree. Let’s drop all these antagonistic labels. Aaron has a vision that could so unite us as a species. I agree humans have mostly forgotten why they are here. Blessed be those who remember, and those who are still able to listen to ideas different than their own.
      I would love for humans to get the common ground between Idle No More and 1 Billion Rising. We, people all over our planet, are all asking for respect and love to guide our time on Mother Earth.
      It is time. Now. We need to stop our Pursuit for a More Comfortable Couch, and get on with our real purpose here – to love and experience truly the power of being an individual. Each of us has one body to drive, and one heart to share. One mind to think ahead, and consider our own actions. It’s time for the humans to progress past greed, past revenge, past control.
      And to love. Both each other and our Mother Earth, which some call Turtle Island.
      Thank you Mother for your patience with us silly humans..
      I take responsibility for this body. Mine. I will do better.
      Namaste. Ho!

      • Tonya Bates
        February 18, 2013

        Mandy, I agree completely with everything you have posted. The true work is within our self as humans and LOVE of all things including our self has always been the challenge. Once we win the battle within and see that love is our strongest weapon and most trusted ally, we shall heal. What we humans have done to each other and to the Mother must heal and that healing must start within and flow out into the universe. As a child, Spirit gave me a vision so horrid that I could not believe that we humans could do such things to each other or to Mother Earth. I cried out WHY? and Can We Stop This?? The answer was humans had forgotten how to love all and if we as humans could all heal enough to hear and believe that something as simple as love was all that we needed to stop this, then No it did not have to be. I was also told that the time would come when the masses would cry out with open hearts to find the answers. I believe that time is NOW and the healing powers of Love will heal it all. It took almost 50 yrs from the time of my vision for people to finally get to the point that they would see the true power of LOVE. I now openly beg my brothers and sisters… please lead the way before it is to late!

  16. Mandy Watson
    February 18, 2013

    Today I sent the following in a private message to Justin Trudeau.

    Today I encountered a vision statement from a young native man on a website/blog called DividedNoMore. Have you heard of it? He has a very interesting idea of governance that I would like to hear your take on. Somehow I would like someone like you to take a vision like his all the way. Would you please take the time to read his post and post your thoughts on his blog? I sure do appreciate that you are busy. I see your tour schedule and I understand that there are a whole bunch of people for you to connect with, on your way to the Big Tent. I hope you do get there. The link to his blog is:http://dividednomore.ca/2013/02/16/a-vision-of-change

    His name is Aaron Paquette. My name is Mandy Watson. Thanks for finding the time to consider this Vision.

    Let’s see what happens.

  17. riv
    February 18, 2013

    A beautiful vision. Thank you for sharing I will be passing it on. But.

    I must ask one question: why is the woman unclothed? What does this say about change, revolution, if the women who take part come naked?

    To me it says: no change. Women are still accessory. Slave.

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 18, 2013

      I’m sorry you feel that way.

      My feeling is much different.

      I feel we have nothing to be ashamed for, that the only way forward is through honesty, vulnerability and open hearts. That’s where true strength waits.

      I feel that women are beautiful and powerful and anyone who would try to take it or destroy it is the one with the problem. A woman should be safe to walk naked through the world if they so chose, and honoured for it.

      There is nothing weak about being naked. Nothing dirty or comprising.

      It’s only the empty hearts of people that make it so.

      In my paintings, I celebrate our women, I don’t objectify them.

      You won’t find me painting those scantily clad, over sexualized, dewy lipped Pocahontas types with their come hither eyes or heads thrown back in ecstasy (we all know those images, they could be painted on the side of a van).

      I only paint with love, honour and respect.

      I hope that answers your question.


  18. Melanie
    February 18, 2013

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I hope your vision comes true soon.

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 18, 2013

      Thank you. Me too. 🙂

  19. Kenneth Tomlin
    February 18, 2013

    I woke up this morning thinking of the significance of the number of updates in my inbox, yesterday, from additional comments on this “A Vision of Change” thread. I was not surprised to see several more this morning.

    Perhaps this is an indication that Aaron Paquette’s vision meets a deep need widespread throughout all humanity–whose epicentre appears, for the moment, to be Canada.

    Is the time approaching when, perhaps, the editors of DividedNoMore might turn this vision into a petition ? For my part I would include, as an appendix “Todd Giihlgiigaa DeVries’ comment on this thread, [February 17, 2013] : “about a talking circle. A traditional way of decision-making in a Haida community.”

    Furthermore, would it not be useful to to discuss “A Vision of Change” at local IdleNoMore gatherings ? Would it be far fetched to suggest that such a discussion might take place exactly as DeVries Haida talking circle is described : men in the middle and women in the outer circle ?

    • Aaron Paquette
      February 18, 2013

      It is very heartening to see the response, especially on a long weekend!

      As for the set up, whatever is deemed best. Spokespeople can be chosen in any way a community wants. On a National level, perhaps something that borrows from different traditions rather than favouring one over another? I have been waiting for months for someone to call such a thing into being, to start with a Gathering, but so far no one has done so.

      I have no desire to be in a leadership role, myself, as it would take me away from my family and my work.

      However, we do need to Gather. I suggested the mountains and Janice Makokis is in support of that as well. There are many sacred and powerful place there.

      I suggest meeting after the first thunders.

      So in April or May, a Gathering of People to meet and discuss and shape the way forward.

      That’s how it begins.