The International Decade for Indigenous Peoples

The International Decade for Indigenous Peoples

A synopsis of William Commandaís efforts to support this pivotal millennium decade in prayer, spirit, energy and hard work - a decade of significant shift in global ideology as the voice of indigenous peoples rises again following the five hundred years of silence

1992 ñ The precursor ñ Daily pipe ceremonies at the United Nations Gathering hosted by President Mitterand of France, the spark igniting the emergence of the unified voice of indigenous peoples at the Earth Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio. The Paradigm Shift: The Planet as endangered resource to be managed or exploited more judiciously versus a new relationship with Mother Earth, the ultimate nurturer and provider

November 1993 ñ Opening prayer and presentation of the Sacred Wampum Belts and Prophecies at the Cry of the Earth Conference. At this first gathering of indigenous peoples at the United Nations, their priority was the profound commitment to teach the world that the salvation of humanity was entirely dependent on respect for Mother Earth

23 June 1995 to 3 February 1996 - Sunbow Five Walk for Mother Earth ñ Spiritual guide to the walk from First Encounter Beach on the Atlantic Ocean to Santa Barbara on the Pacific, to take prayer and ceremony to soil desecrated over five hundred years, and to raise awareness of indigenous and environmental issues

Fall 96 ñ Visits to indigenous gatherings across North America and Mexico, culminating with 1997 Gathering of Indigenous Elders at Victoria Island, Ottawa, when he was presented with a Condor Feather, signifying the reunification of the indigenous peoples from North and South America as had been foretold in prophecy

2000 ñ Millennium International Circle of All Nations Peace Gathering at Nepean Point on the Ottawa River, with participation from the Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and His Excellency John Raulston Saul, Hopi Elder Martin Gaswaseoma and Lakota Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Donald Marshall Junior, Douglas J. Cardinal Architect, Umtapo Peace Education Centre and National Association of Child Care Workers from South Africa, the Rosa Parks Institute, Wittenberg Center, The Wolf Project, University of Michigan Ext. 4H Program, Real Justice, A Healing Among Nations, and International Institute for Non Violence and Reconciliation in Tasmania, amongst others

Sacred Ceremonies and Peace Building at major international Gatherings in France, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, South Africa, United States, United Nations and the Bahamas, taking his prayer to the soils, waters, peoples and institutions of the four directions of Mother Earth

Participation in and support of the annual Prayer Vigil For Mother Earth in Washington D.C. throughout the decade

Hosting of annual (unfunded) international indigenous spiritual Circle of All Nations Gatherings designed to promote respect for Mother Earth, indigenous wisdom, racial harmony, social justice and peace, captured in part in the 2001 Circle of All Nations Documentary, with participation of two thousand five hundred people from over a dozen countries at the 2003 Gathering

Tireless, increasingly intensive, participation in innumerable conferences and gatherings, high profile and humble, nationally and internationally, throughout the decade

Work in prisons teaching responsibility, respect and forgiveness, captured in the NFB Documentary Ojigkwanong, Encounter with an Algonquin Sage, during a decade of profound shift within the justice system as the voice of indigenous peoples rose: from crime, punishment and imprisonment to healing and restoring harmony after conflict

Following his receipt of a Wolf Award for his tireless efforts to promote racial harmony, he became a Special Advisor to the Project, and engaged in numerous workshops, public education events and policy development initiatives to promote its ideals nationally and internationally. Here as with his annual Gatherings, he has brought his unshakable conviction that we are all related into the lives of countless non-indigenous peoples whose thinking was originally entrenched in a mindset that saw differences, duality and hierarchy first

A craftsman of international renown, his birch bark canoes may be found in museums across the world, including at the Canadian Canoe Museum. His unique birch bark canoes with the signature stencils constitute a metaphor for the manís journey through life, and commemorate the web of connection, prayer, creativity and protection from one island of council fire to another that the eighty four nomadic Algonquin nations wove across North America

Development of a vision for an Indigenous Healing and Peace Building Centre at Victoria Island, the spiritual meeting grounds of the Mamuwinini, the nomads, within the heart of the country, a centre for the healing of indigenous peoples, healing of relationships with all others and healing the relationship with Mother Earth