The Odenaansan Project is a Indigenous-led collaboration of people from the four directions who share a common goal: that life as we know it, in all its richness and diversity, should continue on this planet. We do not consider the alternative acceptable.
This Project has been developed in consultation with many knowledge keepers and in ceremonies over many years. The most recent chapter started in 2016 when Greg Allen and Kevin Best were working with a small engineering company. At the first retreat of this company, it was determined that the practice would focus on First Nations, particularly housing and climate change. The Odenaansan Project emerged from the ensuing process.
This Project, which is guided by ceremony, consists of a group of different social enterprises who use the Integrated Community Development (ICD) approach to work with communities to effect the cultural transformation at a community level that is necessary to support Minobimaadziwin (the good life).
We intend to work with communities on the implementation of the ICD approach for projects in many fields and at varying scales. For example, in construction from small residence retrofits to major developments with zero greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions to community energy systems with district heating and cooling.
We were initially guided to both the Humber River and the Credit River watersheds. We were subsequently guided to the Spencer Creek Watershed as a location to demonstrate cultural transformation using water and watershed governance. Under Anishinaabe guidance and law, the Spencer Creek Watershed is of a more appropriate scale for a pilot, being much smaller and thus more manageable and at the same time combining more urban and rural communities. Dundas, for example, is a prototypical southern Ontario town.
The original Spencer Creek Restoration Project, originally conceived over 25 years ago, enabled four now Oskibmaadziig (Grandfathers) – Greg Allen, Kevin Best, Martyn Kendrick and John Todd – to meet. Each in their own way in the 1970s had started listening to the call of Mother Earth for restoration of what had been lost.
The spirit has brought the Odenaansan Project back to its spiritual birthplace, where Kevin was guided to Water as the needed different organizing principle of human activity, not knowing initially that is how Anishinaabe had been organizing their activities and territory since time immemorial.
The other two projects that are the Humber River and the Credit River watersheds will proceed concurrently as community champions emerge, but it is expected they will take longer because of the scale. They are starting now with aspects of the ICD approach but will all end up including all aspects. There has been extensive community development work done in both watersheds.
We will begin a ten-year project to put into place the infrastructure to restore our relationship with water to one that is benign and sacred once again.
We will invite people from throughout the Great Lakes basin to join us in restoring heart to communities by reimplementing a sacred relationship to water as the organizing principle.
We are currently stewarding projects in Turtle Island that are mainly concentrated in four main locales to start: the watersheds of Saugeen-Zibi (Saugeen River), Gabekaanang-Zibi (Humber River), Credit River and, most particularly, Spencer Creek as the first “laboratory scale” project.
In 2016 tobacco and cloth was given to Nancy Rowe (a ceremony leader of the Mississauga of the New Credit) with the elected Chief Stacey Laforme in attendance to seek guidance on how to restore indigenous governance in the place now called Toronto for the benefit of the land and water. Instruction was initially received for four ceremonies. The development of the Odenaansan Project is rooted in these ceremonies.
This came on the heels of Greg Allen and Kevin Best having been involved in developing a community energy plan for Wahgoshig First Nation and Saugeen First Nation. The Integrated Community Development (ICD) approach grew out of this work and the above-mentioned ceremonies.
The Odenaansan Project is envisioned as a ten year project to put into place a plan for the next 150 years. Walt Bressette said it would take 150 years to reverse the damage in the Great Lakes as it had taken 150 years to create it. Obviously, this is not a hard number as the invaders came to the Eastern doorway far longer ago. We acknowledge that we need to fast track this and get it done in 150 years.