Sacred, Secular, Indigenous Women Gather to Steward Seed Inheritance

An historic moment is marked by deep connection

“It was truly a wonderful experience to hear the energy and heart in each of the people present who have the life of the seed and its future held gently in their heart and hands.”

These are the words of Sister Jeannette Filthaut to describe her experience of a gathering to mark the passing along of a valuable and rare inheritance.

For 19 growing seasons the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul stewarded an heirloom seed sanctuary brought to them by Robert and Carol Mouck to preserve and propagate. Last week, women who have enacted their stewardship of those seeds until now, for now, and for the future gathered together.

Time was taken to create a sacred space for sharing, to consecrate memories, and to weave the relationships between the women and the seed inheritance. You could sense continuous lineage coming to life as the conversation, full of care and wisdom, unfolded.

The Heirloom Seed Sanctuary is host to an extensive collection of once endangered seeds, now well adapted and hardy to this area. Members of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul spent time connecting and exploring with women from Ratinenhayenthos, a small group from the Tyendinaga community who see themselves as farmers and stewards of the seeds for the seed’s sake, and members of Kingston Area Seed System Initiative.

An intention to care for the earth, its beauty, and gifts was palpable and ever present. Each of the women spoke reverently about their role and welcomed responsibility for this sacred charge.

Reflections from the gathering included:

“I got emotional listening to some of the stories. There is so much hear in what has happened. There is so much heart in what is going to happen.”

“The best thing that ever happened to my prayer life was the garden.”

“It’s more than just the seeds. It’s the spiritual connection to the seeds.”

“It was a time of great teaching.”

“We are called to be leaders to protect the earth.”

“Our friendship bloomed this desire for the seeds to be rematriated to traditional land.”

“In our custom we pass down the seeds within families.”

“Seed is a living entity and it deserves respect.”

“I wanted to be part of group that looks after the seeds and treats the so preciously.”

“This has been absolutely powerful.”

“In our creation story, a woman fell from the sky, and she brought with her, seeds. That tells us that it’s our job to be caretakers of the seeds.”

The women gathered via video conference for 90 minutes on February 28, 2018.

To learn more about the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary watch the video.

Stay tuned for an edited version of the transcript and possibly an edited audiocast of the conversation.

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