Long time ago there was no burial grounds they say our ancestors are part of this earth we live in. Only the spirit travels back to spirit world when we die. We are given only one year to grief during that time we are required to do tobacco and food offering while our loved one is on spiritual journey. On anniversary date we are required to do a final feast and let our loved one go to let them live an eternal life. As years go by sometimes our loved ones will visit us in our dreams when we struggle or sick they will come to help us. When we experience that we are required to put tobacco and food in a bush to show our appreciation for their visit. I know people get scared when they dream of dead people…. nothing to be scared of….. A’how!
Intergenerational impact of Indian Residential School exist, some youth I work with share stories how they were treated at home the beating and abuse they get when they were young. Alcohol and drug abuse they saw while growing up..the family violence… I’m not saying I was better, my children must have had a hard life too. The biblical teaching “whipping the rod” to discipline a child is not Anishinaabe way. Our ancestors remind us to never hit a child for they are sacred, they say use “LOVE” to discipline your children.
This is Sioux Lookout hostel where patients from northern communities stay during their medical appointment. Beautiful building with a big drum sitting on top. Look at the name of the hostel second photo..why do we keep following European’s way..naming our schools and buildings after people who moved on to Spirit World. Long time ago our people were taught to never disturb the dead. “Da’he’gun Kabayshewekamik” would have been a beautiful name referring to Mother Earth’s heart beat.
Many of us were brought up through Christianity I was too. Our people had no choice but to accept Christianity because it was against the law for Anishinaabe to practise their own traditional belief. Missionaries were sent to enforce the law even Hudson Bay Co. worked for the government. The Elders today who might be in their 80′s -90′s were never exposed to Anishinaabe spirituality or ceremonies. It was outlaw already when they were born. Some families did keep the teachings underground. But some of the traditional teachings like the spiritual responsibility of taking care of animals we kill for food were passed on. I learnt a lot when I was hunting and trapping with elders.. Anishinaabe spirituality is unique it’s based on God’s creation the land, animals, earth and universe…we don’t pray to a human being like Europeans do or to anything created by human being faith… many times you hear people say “those people who practise Anishinaabe spirituality pray to a bear or eagle”…it’s not true. We pray to Creator for he gave us life and gave us a reason to come live in his garden. I was scared of Anishinaabe spirituality too because I didn’t understand it and nobody ever taught me traditional teachings when I was young..so don’t be afraid to learn your culture. Creator made us Anishinaabe it was the Europeans who converted our people to Christianity.. It was part of colonization process so they can take our land and resources. That’s why we are living so poor in Indian Reserves government and missionaries put our people there. We need to empower our people to being Anishinaabe again living the traditional way of life which gave us our identity and purpose in life. Too many youth are killing themselves because they are not proud of themselves of being Anishinaabe.
If First Nation communities are going to heal our people will need to return to traditional way of life. European assimilation process did lots of damage to our people and communities. Creator gave us our Anishinaabe spirit we need to return to original spiritual ways to heal. Our spirits are crying everyday craving for spiritual healing. When we first smelled sage, sweetgrass or hear a drum our spirit reacted. It can be scary for a person who don’t believe in traditional way of life. I was like that too. Many people think we can decide how we should believe in Creator but that’s not the case. Creator created our Anishinaabe spirituality through his creation the land, animals, earth and universe we were given the responsibility to take care of his creation today we neglect that responsibility. Our ancestors did for thousands of years before European contact they took care of everything even when they killed animal. Alcohol was used in fur trading thus Anishinaabe turned against each other fighting and killing each other over land and animals. It’s time we teach our grandchildren and great grandchildren to live in harmony the way Creator gave us in the beginning of life.
Anishinaabe spirituality is unique it’s not made from a human being it’s not written but the natural laws are from Creator. Our spirituality is about living life on earth it teaches us who we are and where we came from. We are connected to the land and all of Creator’s creation. We learn as we grow the ceremonies were very important in child rearing. It taught everybody the sacred responsibility of Mother Earth. Today we are just like foreigners who don’t care about life.
I remember from a ceremony about 18 years ago. A spirit came to warn us about a sickness that will affect all First Nation communities. He describe as “white snow” he said “it will cover all communities just like white snow it will be powerful sickness” Today I know he was talking about prescription drug abuse. He said only Anishinaabe will know the treatment to cure this sickness through the sacred lodge and herbal medicines. I believe suboxone and methadone treatment is not an answer. We have sweatlodge and herbal medicines that are more effective that can be integrated into our community suboxone and methadone programs. My thought this evening. A’how!
We all struggle every day even if you quit drinking or stopped using drugs. Life is a challenge but we don’t give up. The saddest thing a person can do is commit suicide. It breaks everybody’s heart when someone commits suicide. I feel it too I lost many of my nephews and nieces through suicide in late 1970′s.
A suicide survivor shared a story with a group of us inside a sweatlodge ceremony. He said he wanted to end his life by hanging himself.. he had fresh rope burn around his neck.. He told us this is not the way or right for someone to kill himself. He said when I died I traveled to another world… but there were doors I had to get through to reach other side.He said he open 3 doors when he checked in there it was pitch dark and I heard people screaming.
He said he came back he wanted to live life. He came to the sweatlodge he wanted to start his healing journey.. He asked for forgiveness to CREATOR inside the sweatlodge.it was very emotional moment. I thought I would share his story..Please DON’T hurt yourself we love you..CREATOR loves you that why he gave you life.. A’how!
It was good conference August 19, 20, 21 in Mishkeegogamang more communities need to involve their youth to discuss community issues and learn about their heritage and culture. This is their future and their children futures.