Chris and Hazel Harper are leaders in the Indigenous food sovereignty movement from St. Theresa Point, Manitoba. Born and raised Catholics, they have reclaimed and reintegrated the ceremonies of their people, including the Wabanu thanksgiving ceremony, which was passed on to Chris after Christian influence pushed it underground and nearly extinguished it. They conduct their work with humble reverence for all living things and have become vital knowledge-keepers to their remote community and well beyond. They made time for an interview on The Ferment in the midst of a conference where they were busy in multiple roles, teaching, emceeing and leading the gathering in prayer. We are so grateful for the conversation. Meegwetch.
As a sung response to their story, Alana offered up “Be Thou My Vision.” Chris and Hazel pay attention to visions. When Chris was traveling to meet the last surviving keepers of the Wabanu ceremony, he had a dream along the way. When he arrived to ask them about how to do the ceremony, he told them about the dream. “You’ve already seen it,” they said. This ancient Celtic hymn comes from another tribe of Christians deeply tied to the land and attentive to visions. The melody is from a tune called “Slane,” named after the hill where St. Patrick held an Easter vigil in 433 AD.