Ways of Knowing

Honouring all relations that sustain life

"Mayan people measure their time not in years, but in cycles: we open and close cycles."

Angel and Valiana, Mayan activists, Yucatan, Mexico

“Language isn’t just a means of communication, there are thousands and thousands of years stored within the Mohawk language, and insight into how to live within the cycles of the earth.”

Ryan, Mohawk, Wahta, Ontario, Canada

At the core of food sovereignty are ways of knowing, being and acting in the world that value organic and cyclical processes, represent a holistic view of nature, and acknowledge the interrelationship of all the elements that sustain life. These ideas have come into our conversations over five years, through many different places and from many different voices, some of which you will hear in the five photo essays and videos below.

This perspective is challenged by Eurocentric knowledges that fragment our understanding, objectify living things, and focus on products over processes. Western sciences often work to explain the material world, while Indigenous perspectives see all life processes as spiritual. The Legacies exchange is part of the broader dialogue between western scientific knowledges and Indigenous knowledges, which are converging in new ways.

“There’s been a total new reconceptualization about soil biology and food webs. If we could hear the signaling and communication in soils, it would be a cacophony of loud sounds. It’s so amazing, scientists have to admit they were totally wrong. Now they realize that the soil microbiata is in communication, including the plants.”

Dianne, settler farmer in Ontario, Canada

“I am a botanist and I think that the plants are spirits; they are a form of intense energy, and not just matter. When we eat plants, the energy or spirit of the plant enters our bodies.”

Fulvio, Italian/Mexican, Michoacán, Mexico

The videos and photo essays in this section can catalyze conversations about these different world views, or as our Indigenous Spanish-speaking participants call “ways of living.” Each video and photos essay is introduced with a short written text and is followed by commentaries and a guide for facilitators.