Accounting for the Past, Envisioning the Future:
A Seven Generations-based Framework for the Bruce Peninsula
The 2017 Forum, our ninth, completes a loosely connected three year series on the history and future of the Bruce Peninsula. The 2015 Forum established the Bruce as part of the much larger landform known as the Great Arc or rim of the Michigan Basin. By collaborating with speakers from the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin we were also looking at one possible future for our own home, one where 20,000 plus residents combined with 2.5 million annual visitors to create an economically vibrant but ecologically challenged community.
In 2017 we look to the future. This is no small task and one for which the chances of getting it even close to right in a three day Forum are small indeed! Planners, demographers, futurists – they all grapple with this problem but prudently confine themselves to looking ahead by years or at most a few decades. We adopt a different approach by trying to apply the Indigenous concept of Seven Generations, looking to the past 140 years as the key to planning for survival and prosperity in the next 140 years. These time scales create difficulties, such as predicting events beyond our borders or influence. But they can also bring clarity, for example to energy. In 1887 the exploitation of 600 million years worth of decayed life forms converted to oil, gas and coal was just beginning. Despite technological developments such as fracking it is highly unlikely that we will have access to those resources in 2157 and for that near certainty, at least, we can prepare today.
The Saturday plenary session of the 2017 Forum will begin with a summary of the Peninsula’s past 140 years gathered in part from a winter workshop held in Lions Head. Speakers will be challenged to outline and respond to Seven Generations and Traditional Knowledge thinking, reflecting on the history and future from Indigenous and Euro-Canadian perspectives. We are most fortunate to have Dr. John Borrows, Canada Chair of Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria, as the keynote speaker at the dinner that night. The dinner will be catered by well known local chefs Sean and Judy Hurst.
On Sunday morning the Forum and its topic are opened to the public. As usual there will be morning music and market at the Community Centre, followed by a talk by futurist Kip Worzel. Kip is the son of well-known futurist Richard Worzel – evidently prediction runs in the family. Following his talk we will gather in groups to give the participants a chance to have their say on the issues discussed.
Two field trips are planned. The first, on Friday afternoon, is a visit to the Saugeen First Nation 3 km northeast of Southampton. As with our trip to Neyaashiinigmiing last year, the main reason for this visit is to gain some familiarity with the First Nations Communities on the Bruce. Many of us have lived here for years without setting foot on these territories, to our detriment.
The second field trip, planned for Monday, is to the Sheguiandah First Nation on Manitoulin Island. Planned for last year but abandoned because the ferry wasn’t running, this is an optional elective requiring at least 15 and no more than 25 people. Dr. Patrick Juleg of Laurentian University has very kindly agreed to arrange and guide a tour of the 10,000 plus year old archaeological site. This event sold out by mid-March but if you are interested, you are welcome to let us know by contacting us or by responding to the question on the 2017 Forum Registration Form and we will add your name to our Wait List.
Amongst these serious activities are opportunities for hikes, birdwatching, socializing and an introduction to the Ojibway language. Dr. Stephen Scharper from the University of Toronto will once again take to the stage on Friday evening with his mini-film festival, a selection of documentary segments that bear on our theme of Seven Generations.