"We are standing at a crucial time in the life of the United Church of Canada, and the history of Canada, when we can see the journey through. For more than thirty years, the United Church and Indigenous peoples have been on a journey towards mutuality, respect and equity. Towards reconciliation. Towards justice."
Following on that journey, Glen Morris United Church has been embracing the Indigenous roots of this community and beyond for many years, not only with acknowledgments of the land, but frequent smudging ceremonies performed by Métis Leon Fleury and occasional hand drumming accompaniment. The wild turkey feather used for smudging has a permanent home on our communion table as it symbolizes the love and protection of guardian ancestors, nature and the Creator.
An exciting visual reminder has now been revealed, with a stunning 7’ diameter commissioned artwork, permanently installed on the floor of the new Heritage Room, created by Jessica Somers entitled ‘Inception – The Creation Story.’ Jessica shares ‘In Anishinaabe teachings, the story of Turtle Island begins with a flooded Earth. The Creator had cleansed the world of feuding peoples in order to begin life anew. Nanabush (Nanabozo), a supernatural being who has the power to create life in others, was also present. Nanabush survived the Great Flood along with animals that could swim and fly. This supernatural being floated on a large log searching for land but none was to be found. The Earth was covered with water from the Great Flood. He allowed the other animals to lay on the log to rest. Nanabush asked the animals to swim deep beneath the water and collect soil that would be used to recreate the world. First the Loon tried. He dove deep into the water and was gone for a very long time. All the animals thought the Loon had drowned. They finally saw him float to the surface weak and nearly unconscious. He had no dirt in his beak. One by one the animals tried, but one by one they failed to fetch the earth from the bottom. “I can do it,” said a soft voice. At first no one could see who had spoken up. Then the Muskrat stepped forward and repeated, “I can do it. I’ll try.” Some of the bigger and more powerful animals laughed and scoffed at the idea. But despite the ridicule, the Muskrat dove into the water. He was underwater for a long time, much longer than any of the other animals. After awhile, Nanabush and the animals feared that the Muskrat had given up his life to reach the bottom. Finally, one of the other animals spotted Muskrat as he floated to the surface. Nanabush pulled him up onto the log, but he quickly realized that the Muskrat had passed onto the spirit world. Nanabush noticed something in the tiny Muskrat paw. All the animals gathered close to see what was held so tightly. Muskrat’s paw opened and revealed a small ball of Earth. All the animals shouted with joy. Muskrat sacrificed his life so that life on Earth could begin anew. Nanabush took the Earth and placed it on the Turtle’s back. Suddenly, the wind blew from each of the four directions. The tiny piece of Earth began to grow. It grew and grew until it formed an island in the water. The island grew larger and larger, and the Turtle bore the weight of the Earth on his back. After awhile, the four winds ceased to blow and the waters became still. A huge island sat in the middle of the water. Today, that island is known as North America, or Turtle Island, the centre of the Creation Story.”
Born of Odanak Abenakis and Metis decent in 1977, artist Jessica Somers, was raised in a nurturing family with 3 siblings. She was greatly influenced by her grandmother who enjoyed creating scenic and wildlife paintings. Her father's passion for carpentry and his hard work ethics and determination are what attributed to her success as an artist today. Internally driven, and emotionally charged, Jessica's original abstract art and mixed media pieces are unique and earthy. Jessica enjoys working with a wide variety of mediums. Explosive abstract art paintings, contemporary mixed media collage art, reclaimed barn wood, spiritual native paintings, peeled poplar bark, birch bark paintings, turkey feather and her intricate antique milk jugs and saws are just some of the styles you will uncover. Most recently, Jessica has been creating more intricate, non-conventional pieces that engage viewers to develop creative thinking, visual literacy and engage discussion of Indigenous issues that her people are facing today. She has a deep respect for traditional and cultural teachings of Indigenous people. You can find her wonderful art here.
Glen Morris United Church looks forward to sharing her art with all when they are once again able to gather in person.