The stone person to the left is the only directional sign on the land at CrossRiver Wilderness Centre (there are no textual directional markers on the land out here), and it marks our driveway for our arriving guests. It is a traditional marker that does not initially belong on this land in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, as it is part of the cultural and historical roots of the Inuit people in the Arctic tundra of Northern Canada. The stone constructions are traditionally called inuksuit (inuksuk, singular), which means “to act in the capacity of a human.” They were not always in the shape of human beings, although they were always used to communicate with others, especially to point out navigational directions, but also in other circumstances for non-navigational messages, balance, respect, and strength. There are a few reasons why I believe it came to me to ask permission to use an inuksuk at CrossRiver for directing people up our driveway:

        It invites guests to develop awareness for all the other forms of communication
            and “signs” going on around us all the time in our environments, which exist
            beyond the environmentally-disconnected symbols of our text and writing systems

        It invites guests to engage fully with their natural surroundings in ways that they
            may not be accustomed to doing (i.e.: not only do these stones together tell us
            something, but so do the mountains, the trees, the rivers, the animals, etc. around
            us, if we want to pay attention)

        It invites guests into the Wilderness Centre in a way that encourages community
           
(human and non-human), as well as cross-cultural respect, sharing, and learning.
            The medicine wheel with whirling rainbow on its chest is thus a further reminder of
            the unity between all nations on earth—the red, yellow, black, and white people are
            all integral to the great circle of life. There are people from all around the world here
            at CrossRiver at any given time, each bringing their own contributions to the place,
            and equally leaving with some new insights from others. Canada itself is known to
            be a nation of great multicultural diversity, from its Inuit and First Nations peoples,
            to the myriad Asian, African, European, and mixed peoples now also contributing
            to the circle in some way

You may be considering that this is just a pile of stones to you, which is also the truth, but then it also invites you to question why it is just a pile of stones to you. The Inuksuk at CrossRiver stands with the express permission of an Inuit woman from Newfoundland, and it was erected with the protocols that she graciously passed on to me. I am very thankful for and honored by this gift.

 

 

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