Grandmother Wisdom
By John Threlfall

While nobody has been able to book Mother Earth for an interview yet, filmmakers Carole Hart and the late Bruce Hart have done the next best thing with their 2009 documentary For The Next 7 Generations, which chronicles the journeys and conversations of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. While some grannies choose to rage, this group of passionate elders have spent the past six years sharing their collective wisdom, teachings and indigenous practices with each other—and the world—instead.

Featuring grandmothers from Africa, Asia and North, South and Central America representing a wide variety of indigenous faiths (including Tibetan, Arapaho, Mayan, Lakota, Hopi and Omyene, among others), 7 Generations starts with their intitial 2004 meeting—the result of a series of prophetic visions, no less—and follows this grey council as they visit each others homelands and participate in their respective spiritual practices . . . from Amazoninan ayahuasca rituals to a Mexican magic mushroom feast. Along the way, they discuss how to make changes in the world, the importance of sharing their wisdom and the continual ravaging of Mother Earth.

While their conversations are interesting and their discussions with various members of the general public are fascinating, a definite highlight of the film is their audience with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, whose wise and surprisingly funny insights offer a grandfatherly perspective on the Grandmother’s issues . . . unlike the Pope, who failed to respond to repeated requests for a face-to-face meeting. (But things still heat up when the Grandmothers show up in Vatican City and perform an unscheduled blessing ceremony on holy ground.) The only downside to this doc is the lack of any kind of update at the end of the film—what the Grandmothers are doing now, if their meetings have had any tangible impact, that sort of thing. (But you can find that out for yourself by visiting

A compelling and engaging 84-minute documentary about extraordinarily ordinary women making a difference both locally and globally, this week’s screening of For The Next 7 Generations should be mandatory viewing for anyone looking to gain wisdom from our elders. That said, this film is sure to be especially inspiring for grandmothers from any of our local spiritual communities—first nations, pagan, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian or other—as well as secular grandmothers looking for confirmation that someone out there is indeed willing to listen to them, and value the lessons their life-experiences have wrought.

My thought after watching this film? Give the the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers a seat on the United Nations . . . then everyone should shut up and listen to what they have to say.

For The Next 7 Generations will be presented by Dr. Lorna Williams, and is co-sponsored by the First Peoples’ Heritage Language Culture Council and UVic’s Anti Violence Project. Refreshments and conversation will follow the first screening.