Being Alive Well – Miyupimaatisiium

I love to see sign of the animals on the land, like this beaver-chewed ash tree along the river. Such signs tell me the ecosystem is healthy. But is health an objective thing, or culturally defined?

In our modern, western world, health is often associated with the body. It is the worship of the appearance of youth and fitness, even if that appearance is a sham created by photo filters and plastic surgeons.

I learned a word and concept from my Cree friends in northern Quebec called Miyupimaatisiium. Roughly translated it means being alive well. It means that someone has the strength and the ability to participate in traditional activities on the land. But it doesn’t stop there with the person. It also means there are fish and beaver in the water and moose in the forest. It is bigger than the individual person and includes the land; a healthy person in a healthy ecosystem.

I am an outsider to their culture and I’m sure there is a lot of nuance I don’t understand about the term, but even if I’m way off it still resonates with me. It just feels good to know its there. Sort of like being out and seeing lots of animal sign. Whether I interact with them directly or not, it feels good to know that they are there.

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