THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy was humbled and honoured to be the Indigenous representative for North America at the 4th International World Conference of Elders of Ancient Traditions and Cultures March 4-7, 2012 in Haridwar, India (250 KMs north of New Delhi), jointly organized by the International Council of Cultural Studies (ICCS) of USA and India.
ICCS encompasses the World Council of the Elders, a non-political, non-religious, non-profit socio-cultural forum, which intends to provide a platform for the Elders of the Ancient Traditions and Cultures of the world. There are over 1000 members of the world council representing more than 75 different cultures from over 40 different countries.
ICCS provides a platform for Indigenous representatives like NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy and NAN Elder Sam Achneepineskum to come together and discuss respective traditions, exchange ideas and thoughts, explore possible similarities between the traditions, and derive commonalities to benefit communities in the respective countries at large.
The conference, now in its 4th term, was themed “Nourishing the Balance of the Universe”. Ancient traditions and cultures, like the Maoris of New Zealand, Nishnawbe Aski people of Canada, and Mayans of South America, have existed for thousands of years, and were in attendance, alongside over 250 representatives from over 30 countries. This year’s conference was an attempt to bring all this great wisdom from the traditions to the forefront of knowledge. Different cultures of global Indigenous peoples shared their wisdom and knowledge, while learning from each other and contributing to the renaissance of the ancient traditions and cultures worldwide.
The Grand Chief shared his perspective on how to protect the balance of nature based on the existence of Indigenous Peoples in what is now known as Nishnawbe Aski Nation, since time immemorial, while ensuring its survival with contemporary lifestyles. Elder Achneepineskum, performed a traditional sunrise ceremony, and prayer at the conference.
During the conference, ICCS’ Tampa, Florida campus, honoured a selected few indigenous leaders from across the world, who have worked hard to preserve and maintain their ancient culture, while at the same time finding ways to move their communities forward within modern life. At this year’s conference, ICCS’s education arm, the Research Institute of World’s Ancient Traditions, Cultures and Heritage (RIWATCH USA) honoured, NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy, as the sole recipient from North America.
“I am very grateful that our Peoples’ time immemorial existence was recognized at this major world event, and as their leader, I am honoured to accept this doctorate as a result of the recognition of ancient history and traditions within NAN First Nation communities, “ said Grand Chief Beardy. “This was a very rewarding and beneficial experience to share our Peoples’ history, culture and traditions with our brothers and sisters from around the world. The intent is that we can come home with some engaging ideas to preserve, revive, and strengthen our own traditions, while at the same time establishing networks with other Indigenous Peoples to find fundamental solutions to the issues NAN First Nation Communities face.”
Aditya Jha, Chairman of the private Canadian Charitable foundation POA Educational Foundation, has been working collaboratively with the Grand Chief’s office for the last decade to nurture entrepreneurship amongst the members of NAN. Mr. Jha is honoured that his nomination of the Grand Chief for the Honorary Doctorate has been accepted. “India is the cradle of the ancient civilization and it is befitting that descendants of the oldest people of Canada are here at the conference to share their tradition and thoughts”, said Mr. Jha