Monday, April 30, 2012

Name Sake, an Honour.

I have never been sure as to who I was named after or how my name was chosen. I never did ask my Mom about that as well. Although it is not on my birth certificate, I do have a second name, it is Julian. I saw it spelled Julien on some Residential school documents. But I just spelled it the way I thought it was spelled and have kept it like that. My second name is a Baptism name given to me by my uncle Bob and Godfather. I always thought I was named after Stephen in the Bible as that is how my name is spelled. I don't like that spelling. As a kid the Teachers would pronounce it "Stefan" and all the kids would laugh. Or some of my friends would tease me by calling me "step-hen". Again another form of ridicule. Kids can be resourceful in their making fun of others, or make fun in the strangest ways. Anyway, my name has always been spelled as Steve by my Mom and Dad. Not sure why it is spelled Stephen in the birth certificate? I never even knew it was spelled like that until about grade 3 or 4.  In any case, I was thinking about name sakes and what that means.
My Dads name is Andrew Howard. He is known as Henry, actually he is called Henreence, (only the older folk have called him that name) aka little Henry. He was named by the Courchene Women (Virginee and Margaret) for their little brother Henry, who had passed away. So Dad became their brother's name sake and their adopted brother. Funny how your name sticks, even in some of my Dad's identification documents his name is spelled Henry.
I have a name-sake. His name is Jordan Steven Daniels. My nephew. He is a cool handsome kid. I love him very much. Can you imagine how I felt when I heard that Jordan was my name sake? Here he is with a Little Boy Water Drum. I made a pledge to myself to make sure I let Jordan know how much I care for him and to always show him kindness. Not sure if I am living up to that pledge but he does mean much to me.

I did have a name sake in the name of my Son Donovan. He was Donovan Steven Scott Ray. He is no longer living. I do think of him everyday and how I failed him. I vow not to do that with anyone that I care for. It is a constant struggle to live up to that

We named our bulldog puppy after Bruce Willis. Because of how great a hero Mr. Willis is and really how cool he is and looks.  It is no honour for Bruce Willis the actor, to have a puppy named after him, I am sure, but what the heck anyway. I wonder how many people name their kids after a super hero or a rock star? I even heard someone named their kid after a computer...Apple?  Steve Jobs must be their hero to name their child after his computer? Actually I think they named their child after the fruit.

But really to have a namesake is a big deal. We normally do namesakes for our parents or grandparents and of course our children. My cousin Brian and my brother Howard are named after our Mishom, Ambroise, aka Miscus. Brian is called Miscus as well. While my brother is Howard. I have a friend Sal and he is named after his grandfather. Sal named his son after his dad. His nephews are also named after the Dad. It is an honour to be named after a Father or Grandfather. I wonder though about George Foreman? I believe all his sons are named George? I guess that is something.

My Son Donovan has two namesakes. My niece Missy has named her boy, my Godson, Donovan. Poor Donovan lives with Cerebral palsy . Also my Grandson Jackson is named after Donovan and his Great-grandfather Albert.

I think being a namesake is more than just being an honour. I think it is a way to keep someone alive. Their memory alive. Or a namesake could be for someone important in your life, whether its a hero, a family member, a son, a Dad, or a very good friend.

Not sure what I wanted to convey in this post. In any case I like that we can have a namesake. Let's do right by our namesakes.


  1. Great read. Thank you. I am named after my uncle, who served in Vietnam. that is story in itself.
    Where I work - a native highschool in Sioux Lookout, ON. there are several boys here named after professional hockey players...
    Again, thank you for sharing

  2. Weird about your blog! Not weird as in weirdo but just the other day I drove Henrees to Southbeach for an outing and as we were driving he mentioned his name and boarding school . Actually he was talking about Howard and how they named him after him. I was thinking that how did he get to have the name Henry and I asked him and he told me the story that you mention in your blog. You know as we drive we talk about any and everything under the sun, one of his stories he tells me about the time he broke down on the highway and how he got picked up by these people and he always mentions Mildred and one of the things I notice is he always says her name when he talks about her! When we are at Southbeach I constantly go and ask him if he is okay as I worry about parasites trying to take advantage of his kindness. Other than that I thought I would mention that story of our visit!!!

  3. Yeah, he called me the other night and told me you took him for a visit. He really enjoys that. You are kind to my Dad. I thank you. Not everyone can be like that, but it is good when someone does a good turn like that. I do know that people tend to share with you. I always wondered about that. You seem to have the "ear" of people. miigwitch.

  4. Jake, I wouldn't mind if you shared your namesake story some time. I am in awe of the people that sacrificed much in the many wars out there. later

  5. Thank You for this topic. I hope after reading Your words some people will take greater care for their namesakes. In my family there were meaningful names and meaningless names. The meaningful were given to us by our Elders; the meaningless were imposed in a « cattle-branding » attempt. My Grandmother was known by her Apache name and also by the name “Stephanie”. My people believe that nothing is accidental on our path and for this reason I’ll tell You more about her, maybe You’ll find something for You in her story. My grandfather died a young hero. She was beautiful and tough (for many guys a dream and a challenge) but she never re-married, stayed her warrior’s widow and missed him till the day she died. The Creator gave her many abilities and people tell lots of stories about her courage, wisdom and a very special sense of humour. Once she caught a thief (the guy was stealing wood from the community).She led him all the way from the forest to the Elders. The thief was shocked to discover that the “rifle” in his back was a tree branch and the Elders burst out laughing. When I was a teen I went for a holiday trip to a tiny place lost among the lakes. It was fun till one evening when I felt a sharp pain in my hip. I was shaking, and could clearly hear my Grandmother’s voice urging me to get home. So I did, travelling like a maniac, finally arriving home a day later and rushing directly to her door. Here she was, leg in plaster smiling .She said:”Finally! What kept you so long? I’ve been calling and calling! ”She helped many people and guided as many, she was a personification of dignity, honour and love. A very special person she was. She would always urge me to learn: ”Nobody can take away from you what you learned. Only the knowledge is truly yours”.