Donate Button
menu icon
Seeds of Wisdom Logo 2022
Donate Button
menu icon
Guardians of the Future: Why I said “YES” to Empowering Indigenous Perspectives for a Thriving Planet

Mar 31, 2024

By Rubina Cohen


Photo of Rubina CohenAs I accept the role of Interim Executive Director at, I am guided by a deep sense of duty that resonates with my core values and the culmination of over two decades of professional work. Continuing my journey as the Founder and CEO of Firefly Strategies Global, the calling to add the responsibilities of supporting an Indigenous centering organization to my endeavors feels like a natural extension of my life’s mission. This is not just another role to me; it’s a manifestation of a deeply felt obligation to leverage my experiences and successes for the greater good. The journey that has led me to this point is rich with lessons and achievements that have shaped my understanding of what it means to contribute positively to our world. Embracing this role is a reflection of my commitment to honoring and amplifying Indigenous wisdom and practices as essential pathways to healing and sustainability. 

The decision to accept this position was not made lightly. It was fueled by a deep realization of the urgent need for change in how we support and empower Indigenous communities. Despite the substantial funds flowing into non-profit sectors, Indigenous centering organizations receive only a fraction of these resources. This disparity is not just a financial issue; it’s a reflection of the larger systemic inequalities that continue to marginalize Indigenous voices and wisdom.

My journey to this realization began with the profound insights I gained from reading “Sacred Instructions” by Sherri Mitchell and “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. These authors, through their eloquent narratives, underscore the importance of living in harmony with nature and embracing Indigenous wisdom to heal our fractured world. Their teachings resonated deeply with me, sparking a desire to align my life’s work with the principles of regeneration and sustainability.

The Regenerative Practitioner course offered by the Regenesis Institute further cemented this resolve. It provided me with the tools and understanding to approach change not just as an abstract ideal but as a practical pathway to restore balance and harmony in our communities and the environment.

Yet, it was the personal loss of my brother to pancreatic cancer in 2022 that brought a sense of urgency and clarity to my purpose. This profound loss reminded me that life is precious and fleeting, and it instilled in me a resolve to dedicate the remainder of my time to creating a positive, lasting impact.

In this next chapter of my life, I am guided by a vision for the future that transcends my own existence. It’s a vision for my grandchildren’s grandchildren—a world that is abundant and rich, not in material wealth, but in love, community, and harmony with nature. I believe that by centering Indigenous wisdom and practices, we can pivot from the destructive patterns of the past and embrace a way of living that enriches us all.

Time, I’ve come to understand, is not a constraint but an invitation to enact change. The transformation we seek is possible, and it begins with each of us choosing to live with intention and purpose. As the new Interim Executive Director of Seeds of Wisdom, I am committed to amplifying Indigenous voices and fostering a world that honors and learns from their wisdom.


only 17 percent of global climate and conservation funding intended for Indigenous and local communities actually goes to projects led by Indigenous people

At the heart of Seeds of Wisdom’s  mission is our dedication to empowering Indigenous Peoples and Organizations across the globe. As a granting organization, we are committed to supporting projects that amplify the rich traditions, cultures, and wisdom of Indigenous communities. Over the past decade, we have proudly distributed close to $1,000,000 in grants, aiding efforts that range from cultural preservation and environmental stewardship to educational programs and community empowerment initiatives. These funds have sparked significant progress, but we recognize that the potential for impact is far greater.

Our ambition is clear: to increase our funding to $1,000,000 annually. Achieving this goal would not only accelerate the pace at which we can enact change but also expand our capacity to raise awareness of the crucial role that Indigenous wisdom plays in crafting a sustainable future. By investing more substantially in the projects and people at the forefront of this vital work, we aim to magnify the voices of Indigenous communities and ensure that their knowledge and practices receive the recognition and respect they deserve on a global scale.

The journey toward this ambitious funding target is not just about financial support; it’s about building a movement that acknowledges the interconnectedness of all life and the essential insights Indigenous Peoples offer in living harmoniously with our planet. As we strive to grow our impact, we invite partners, donors, and allies to join us in this critical endeavor. Together, we can contribute to a world that values and integrates Indigenous wisdom as a foundational element for environmental sustainability and cultural richness, ensuring a legacy of respect and reciprocity for generations to come.

Simultaneously, integral to Seeds of Wisdom’s mission is the profound act of storytelling. Capturing and sharing the stories of Indigenous traditions, cultures, and ways of living in harmony with Mother Earth form the heartbeat of our work. These narratives, rich with wisdom passed down through generations, are not merely tales of the past; they are blueprints for sustainable living and coexistence with our planet. By giving these stories a platform, we aim to illuminate the depth of Indigenous knowledge and its critical relevance to today’s global environmental and social challenges.

The process of gathering these stories is a sacred trust and responsibility. We engage with Indigenous Peoples and Organizations with respect, humility, and the willingness to listen deeply. Our role is to amplify their voices, ensuring that the stories are shared authentically and in alignment with the communities’ wishes. This commitment to genuine representation helps foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Indigenous cultures and their symbiotic relationship with the earth.

Sharing these stories serves multiple purposes. It not only aids in raising the necessary funds to continue our granting work but also plays a crucial role in spreading awareness and sparking change. Each narrative invites the global community to learn from Indigenous perspectives on living in balance with nature, encouraging actions that respect the earth and its ecosystems. This storytelling is not just an act of preservation; it’s a call to action, inviting individuals and organizations worldwide to participate in a movement towards more sustainable and respectful ways of life.


Indeed, the path ahead and similar is filled with both promise and challenge. The work before us is vast and multifaceted, demanding dedication, creativity, and collaboration from every corner of our global community. Recognizing the critical role Indigenous wisdom plays in our collective journey toward sustainability and equity requires not only financial support but also a profound shift in societal values and practices. 

As we continue to amplify Indigenous voices and traditions, every story shared, every grant awarded, and every partnership forged is a step towards a more just and sustainable world. The journey is long, and the tasks are many, but the potential for transformational change fuels our commitment. It calls for concerted efforts across sectors and disciplines, inviting educators, policymakers, activists, and individuals to contribute their strengths towards a common goal.

We stand at a crucial moment in history, where the decisions we make and the actions we take can significantly influence the well-being of our planet and future generations. I see our organization, Seeds of Wisdom, as more than just a granting organization; it’s a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change, embodying the belief that by honoring and integrating Indigenous knowledge, we can forge a path to a future where both people and the planet thrive.

I invite you to join me on this journey. Together, we can create a future that cherishes diversity, respects the earth, and ensures that our grandchildren’s grandchildren inherit a world that is not only survivable but thriving. Let’s embark on this path together, for you, for me, and for the generations yet to come.