NORFOLK — Monday, Oct. 12 was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a holiday that celebrates Native American history and culture.
To commemorate the day, the Norfolk Church of Christ and the nonprofit organization Alliance for a Viable Future held its Walk For Climate Leadership event.
The original idea behind the event was to have the event at the Town Green and a hike on the Barbour Woods Trail.
However, due to inclement weather, part of the event was held outside and also inside the church, with more than 30 residents social distancing and wearing masks.
The event was co-organized by church pastor Erick Olsen and organization member Thomas Murtha.
“This was an opportunity for us to honor the view that Indigenous People have that everything that exists is part of one family,” Olsen said. “Speaking from my perspective as a Christian pastor, we can learn a lot from that perspective. Honoring that perspective was an important reason for holding this event on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. At the same time, we were trying to bring together like-minded people who are concerned about the climate crisis that we face as a global community and work to empower each other to learn more and find ways that we can locally make a difference.”
“So much is being done on a national level and state level, but we want support from residents to step up and do what they can to be aware of what their options are when it comes to the environment,” Murtha said. “But also we wanted people to look at the gifts from the Indigenous People of traditional ecological knowledge. The main settlements of Indigenous Peoples’ in Connecticut were along the river valleys. There wasn’t a lot going on in Norfolk because it was a hunting ground. Still, in the region, there were a lot of Indigenous People here, particularly in the Housatonic Valley, the Connecticut River Valley, the Farmington River Valley. They all practiced stewardship of the land and that goes back to the original instructions which are to be grateful for the creation and take care of what you have and each other.”
Both Olsen and Murtha said that, despite the continuous destruction of the environment due to climate change, global warming, and other factors, that it is not too late to reverse it.
“We have the solutions, we just have to implement them,” Murtha said. “That’s why it is critical to build awareness of the solutions and get people to undertake the collective action that is needed to address these environmental emergencies.”
“We can make a difference in our communities by collaborating on exploring ideas like solar farms and wind energy,” Olsen said. “We need to advocate for research and development for technologies that are less harmful to the planet. These are things that practice locally. I think that the more we are reminded through events like this that there are other people on the same page, I think we can work together to make lasting changes and support each other. It can feel like an uphill battle, but we need to help each other get up the mountain.”
For more information about The Alliance for a Viable Future go to https://www.allianceforaviablefuture.org/
Photo submitted by Erick Olsen
Photos submitted by Thomas Murtha