Updated: May 18
Written by Gaileen Flaman
Effective leadership in Western society requires a collective, shared effort which emphasizes both “I” and “we”. Motivated by a common purpose, shared vision and passion, Collective Leadership is an approach that develops individual leadership through personal discovery and requires building community through relationship with others. It prioritizes what’s good for all our kin, allows everyone to share their gifts, and appreciates the idea of interdependence. Further, because the challenges of today cannot be solved by the same thinking that created these problems, we need to be open to the possibility of other ways of discovery, such as dreams and visions, as they provide information and/or bring solutions to problems. Dreaming and visioning, along with scientific reasoning, enhances and expands our understanding of our world and our place in it. In fact, the call for a Visioning Resurgence to co-create a better future based on our own Indigenous traditions cannot be underestimated in these times.
At the heart of the resurgence movement is a call for people to turn away from the dominant culture and the prevailing normative-discursive environment of the Canadian settler and instead adopt an Indigenous approach towards our curriculum, organizational culture, and societal functions. This approach recognizes, first and foremost, that our professions, as well as our academics, can perpetuate colonialism and contribute to the anti-Indigenous racism that is literally killing Indigenous peoples. Indigenization is a process of naturalizing Indigenous knowledge systems and making them evident to transform spaces, places, and hearts. A card produced by Métis Women of BC in partnership with Bridges for Women acknowledges this truth while sending a persistent message: “Our strength and our knowing is still inside of us, in our bodies, in the land, in our DNA, in our spirit, in our Dreams”. It goes on to encourage taking some quiet time to tap into and listen to our inner knowing for self-discovery and reclamation. As an individual participant in a cooperative group, it is fitting for one to practice this reclamation, for personal development and to strengthen collective wisdom and leadership. This transformation begins with the dream and gains momentum by participating in workshops, webinars, and cultural classes that catalyze renewal and revival of traditional medicine and healing practices and language learning. Breathwork, journaling, singing, and dancing, “sit spots” and “movement meditation” in nature, communing with the 4-leggeds, finned, and winged, and courageous conversations with others can develop personal awareness and uncover communities to connect with.
One night many moons ago, I had an intense dream that woke me up, clutching at my chest and breathing heavily and trying to make any sounds come out of my mouth. It was frightening and felt very real, making it most memorable. I woke at a point where I saw myself on my kitchen floor, commando-crawling towards the glass door leading towards to my deck, facing the “protected” greenspace behind our house. In the distance I could see straight down to the highway, a long way from our home’s 15-minute drive inland, because the rolling hills and terracing had been unexpectedly clear-cut logged. All over this newly-shorn surface were men in visi-vests and hard hats operating heavy machinery which chugged and spewed exhaust as they razed the land. I was relieved when I awoke, gasping and with a constricted throat, to look outside and see an intact forest from my backyard. Then, three years ago, this dream became a reality when the new neighbours, murdered three massive cedars, reducing them to naked stumps glaring back at me as the sun hit their surface. More recently, excavators leveled the land and dumped gravel, creating a sizable parking lot for a multitude of vehicles and toys.
This dream was predictive and became a spark that propelled me onto a pathway to interact more frequently, intentionally, and spiritually with nature and to rediscover my interconnection and interrelation with Mother Earth. I looked for people who could understand and “hear” my distress. In a moment of synchronicity, I came upon a Facebook post that introduced me to www.TreeSisters.org and began my immediate membership in this group whose mission is replanting forests, guided by feminine and Indigenous wisdom and leadership. Here, I discovered a movement where my membership is actionable and supported with meditations, shared knowledge and resources, creativity, and courses. My extraordinary dream motivated my need to seek the sisterhood of TreeSisters which has been crucial in my personal development and critical in my approach to healing the planet, with an Indigenous approach, through collective leadership.
I am further reminded of a memorable vision that came to me from a guided meditation: I was sitting criss-cross-applesauce in the centre of a circle, surrounded by relatives, friends, and acquaintances. My belly was round and glowing bright white like the moon. I felt held, radiant, safe, and worthy. Afterwards, I felt relived, vital, and purposeful. The wisdom contained in this vision include a reminder, a message, and a call to action: I have a network of support to call on, innate creative and generative tendencies, and can open-heartedly shine my light by sharing my unique gifts. I share this wisdom to inspire readers to know, they too, are part of a larger, reciprocal network, possess co-creative capacity, and are encouraged to shine their light brightly.
Below, I offer a gift I created with the support of Spotify and the artists and producers of the music. The invitation is to take space to move your body in whatever way it chooses through this one-hour flow. Like a medicine plant, it starts slowly, rooting down into the earth, stretching towards the sun as it rises up and reaches out, growing and blossoming into fullness using great energy, then naturally, slowly moving to rest in stillness as the music fades. The theme is dreaming.