‘Today I Stand Upon the Shore’ original music written and performed by Pat Mayberry 2014
Video by Heather Menzies
Blog Series: A journey of reckoning and reconnection
I went looking for my ancestors after writing No Time: Stress & the Crisis of Modern Life, which is about a disconnection that haunts the hyper connectivity of our globalized online world. It’s a disconnection that’s linked to the climate crisis, I’m sure.
I went to Scotland seeking the ancestral roots of this: in an often forced disconnection from the earth as shared living habitat. I don’t know if most people who came to North America from Europe in the time of colonial ‘settlement’ have this wound. But it’s in my heritage, as I discovered and wrote about in my last (award-winning) book, Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good. In Glen Quaich and the glens of the Tay River Valley, my people lived in intimate and even reverent connection with the land they’d shared as hunter-farmers since the Iron Age. By the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, they were largely settled as farmer-herders, though still ranging over large tracts of common lands as forest, fens, fields and pasture – until these were enclosed, and they were cleared off the land.
Walking the land of my ancestors called something ancient awake in me, at least a vestigial memory of being connected to the land, as kin.
With this sense of connection and feeling as though my ancestral spirits were with me, I have found the courage to face my more recent heritage, as 5th generation settler in Canada. My great great great grandparents, having been displaced from their ancestral homes in Scotland, are implicated in displacing the Indigenous peoples in this country when they ‘settled’ in Upper Canada in the early 1830s.
I am a descendent of the treaty that made their settling legitimate: the Huron Tract Treaty of 1827.
I am now learning a very different meaning of treaties, from an Indigenous perspective. I’m also learning about the Anishinaabe people disconnected from their traditional territories by the Huron Tract Treaty, and meeting some of their descendants. I will write about this in further blogs.