Sunday, March 18, 2018

Wally Chartrand: Circle of Life Teachings.


Wally Chartrand
Circle of Life Teaching
The first 9 grandfathers represent that first nine months in our mothers womb... long ago there were teachings here for men and for women... that father to be would be taken aside by his father, his grandfather or maybe his uncle... and he was told all those things he needed to do, and how to talk to his partner so that the journey would be good for that little one growing inside her tummy... she too was taken aside... her mother, her grandmother or maybe an aunt would take her aside and she too was told all those things she should do during this time of her pregnancy.. she was told where she could still walk and where not to walk during this time... which ceremonies she could still attend and which ones she should avoid during this time... for example, back home where I come from women used to be told not to attend wakes or funerals during this time... the reason being that it was believed that the departed spirit was just leaving into that next level of life, and that it might try and take that little spirit that was just developing inside her belly...
she was told to drink a lot of whitefish broth soup as it would help the little ones brain develop... we knew long ago about the importance of child development ...
or again she would be told to drink raspberry tea as this would make her and the baby stronger when it was time to deliver... on and on there were many teachings during this period both for her and for him... all for the sake that the journey for that little one developing in her tummy would be a good journey.


Circle of Life Teaching (2)
The first 7 red grandfathers represent that first stage of life that we know as childhood... but the old people don’t call it this, instead they know it as the stage of great learning... because everything we learn during this time prepares us for the rest of the journey ahead... I read a book long ago called “Everything you Wanted To Know About Life You Learned In Kindergarten “... made a lot of sense this little book... because this is were we first learn to be in relationship, how to share or how to problem solve... everything we learn here prepares for the rest of the journey ahead... but again long ago... there were teachings here for the little boys and girls and even the two spirits... for example... after we are maybe 2 weeks old our bellybutton cord falls off... well they wouldn’t take that and just throw it away... because there was a ceremony for that... again back home... they would take that cord that had fallen off and they would go into the forest and find a tree that had fallen naturally.. and on that stump they would place that cord along with some tobacco and prayers... all for the sake that, that little one would always know where they are going in life... because the belief was that if we just threw it away that we would wonder this way and that way throughout our journey looking for our bellybutton... so I’ve done that ceremony for my children whereby when their bellybutton cords fell off, I took the cords into the bush along with my tobacco and said those prayers... in case should any of my children ever come to me and tell me that they are feeling lost... you know what I can do?... I can take them by the hand and I can lead them into the forest and show them where I placed their cord ... because as a father I want my children to always know where they are going in life... that’s one of the responsibilities I took when I became their father...
the cradle board (tekanagan)... was useful in that when baby was tied up and secure... it allowed for the mother to look after her other responsibilities of looking after the home and her family knowing that baby was safe... all she had to do was look over once in awhile to see baby safe and sound... the other advantage was with having baby warped and secure... we all know that babies have little or no motor skills... their hands and arms are all over the place... when wrapped and secure in the cradleboard... all baby has his his/her eyes and ears... so it was to help further develop the child’s brain... thus giving the baby a head start ...
Once we learn to walk, they wouldn’t allow for the child to step all over Mother Earth... there would be a ceremony for that ... we called it the walking out ceremony... but this was to begin teaching that child that we need to respect Mother Earth... imagine that!.. when our children were one year old, we already began to teach that child about the first sacred teaching of respect... something unfortunately we don’t do enough today ... we just have to open the paper in the morning to see that our children have not been taught that first sacred teaching of respect... we hear of too many times how someone has killed someone ... we are not teaching our children to respect life! ... again, long ago we had all the teachings that would prepare our children for the journey ahead... something we don’t do enough today

Circle of Life Teaching (3)
The 7 white grandfathers represent adolescents, the teenage years ... but our old people had another name for this stage... this one they called the fast life... because we get to be 12, 13 or 14 and we want to be in the next stage already ... “can’t tell me what to do!” ... because we know it all already ... “don’t worry about it!... I’ll pick my own friends”.... or ... “don’t worry about it, I’ll dress the way I want!”... or... “don’t worry I’ll go to bed when I want, don’t worry I’ll get up in the morning!”... I remember when I was 12-13 years old... the style back then is that we would go into town at Woolworths and buy a brand new pair of jeans... come home and go straight into the kitchen and bring out the scissors, and we’d cut them across the front legs... designer jeans!...we can buy them today for $100-150.00 ... we used to make our own... but then I’d be out walking around with my friends maybe in the middle of January, 12-1 o’clock in the morning in my cut-up jeans (no long-johns), my little white t-shirt and Jean jacket... shivering from the cold!!!! But at least I looked cool !... because no one could tell me, I knew it all already by then...
again, long ago there were teachings here for those boys ready to be men, and those girls ready to be women ... for example ... that boy when he was around 12-13 years old... they would take him away from his community, maybe to a special area... and they would leave him there maybe overnight, maybe 2-4 days without food or water... all for the sake that his spirit helper would come to him in a dream... that spirit helper who would guide him the rest of the way...
by the time that boy was 14-16 years old, he already belonged to one of the society’s within the community in which he lived... whether that was the hunting society, the medicine society or the warrior society... whatever societies that community had, he already belonged to one of them dependent on his skills and gifts... again, something we unfortunately don’t do today... what do we do with our youth? We push them to the side, we don’t create a place for them within our families or our communities... then we wonder why they are so messed up sometime... maybe that’s part of why... because we don’t give them a purpose or responsibilities... they don’t feel valued, but instead are pushed aside... like they are in the way for some reason!...
there were teachings here as well for those young girls ready to be women... but I can’t share those teachings because I’m not a woman ...
Circle of Life Teachings (4)
The yellow grandfathers represent that next stage of life after the fast life... we know it as the adult stage... but again the old people they don’t call it this, instead they call it the stage of great responsibility ... because it’s during this stage of life that we are supposed to come together with that other person.... but with that comes great responsibility...
I remember the very first time that I fell in love many many years ago... I remember not being able to sleep or eat for about a week or two... I just wanted to spend 24/7 with her... but than I noticed something after about a week or two... I started sleeping and eating again... I noticed that love wore off just slightly... and this is where responsibility kicks in... because now I have to nurture that love if I want to maintain it and have it grow... just like a flower, I have to nurture it with water, sunlight and care... love is very much the same... we have to nurture it, protect it and handle it with care... it takes great responsibility to do this... sometimes guys would pop in and say let’s go play hockey... well I can’t just jump up and put on gear and head out the door... I have to ask her first, because what if she has other plans for us tonight?... that’s a part of that responsibility we accept when we go into a relationship... again that’s what they call this stage of great responsibility...
After awhile things will be going really good between the two of us... so what do we do!!!... we now invite new life into the relationship... next thing we know we have this tinny little bundle totally dependent upon us... to feed it, to shelter it, to clothe it, to protect it, to nurture it, to love it... that takes a tremendous responsibility... but again that’s why they call this stage the stage of great responsibility... long ago by the time we arrived at this stage in our lives we knew what our roles and responsibilities were...
Again, unfortunately these teachings have not been taught to all parents... today we see our children growing up in foster care or in group homes, because our parents have forgotten their roles and responsibilities... today we have over 9,000 Anishinabe children in the child welfare system here in Manitoba alone... now we are being told that across Canada that there are more Anishinabe children in care then there were at any given time during the residential school era ... we ask ourselves what are the long term implications of our children growing up in such a system... they eventually forget who they are and where it is that they come from as Anishinabe children... so therefore it is imperative that we support families to try and prevent too many of our children coming into such a system... can we be doing more? ...
One last thought... today I see our Anishinabe men who will have children with this woman, children with that woman, and maybe even children with that other woman... but they don’t take any responsibility for any of those children... they just move onto another woman... where is the honour in that?... just an after thought.
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the blue grandfathers represents that last stage of life we know as the Elder stage... but again the old people know this stage as the stage of great wisdom... 
because, when we think about it... we’ve traveled all the way from that very first Grandfather and we’ve experienced all those different things that life has to offer us along the way... by the time we get to this stage of life... we have this wealth of knowledge... so now we become the teachers... it’s our role to pass on to those others behind us the knowledge we’ve gained ... by the time we arrived at this stage of our lives, we knew exactly what our responsibilities were... we knew that we had a place within our families and our communities... we were seen as being valuable to the well-being of not only our family, but also to the community...
Today we neglect our Elders... we put them away in senior homes and only go to visit when it’s convenient for us... we don’t take time to go and listen to their stories and their teachings... and then finally one day... we attend their funeral and we state how great they were, how we will miss them... and how we missed the opportunity to learn from them before they were gone forever.. 
Today we neglect our Elders... we put them away in senior homes and only go to visit when it’s convenient for us... we don’t take time to go and listen to their stories and their teachings... and then finally one day... we attend their funeral and we state how great they were, how we will miss them... and how we missed the opportunity to learn from them before they were gone forever.. 

Circle of Life Teaching (6)

The white and black grandfathers in the middle represent those two roads that we all walk at one point in our journey... 
the white ones represent that road we call Mino-pimatizin (the good life)... this is that road they tell us we travel when we practice those seven sacred teachings of respect, love, honesty, courage, wisdom, truth and humility... again... what good are they unless we practice them and walk them in the best way that we can... also... the teachings need to begin from within... how can I love others if I don’t first love myself? How can I respect others if I don’t First respect myself?...
the Black grandfathers represent that other road we walk from time to time as well... that one we call Maji-mekana (the bad road)... this is the road we walk when we abuse alcohol, drugs... when we are abusive to others or ourselves... lying, cheating , stealing....... when we are walking in this way we are told that we are walking upon this road...
but again we are also reminded... just as there are teachings on the other road, there are also teachings on this road as well... for example ... that alcohol is a medicine... cocaine is a medicine... heroine is a medicine... anything and everything that comes from Mother Earth is a medicine... but what happens when we don’t respect that medicine ? ... it can come back to hurt us... and that’s exactly what we see today in our families and in our communities ... is that people have not respected these medicines... and now our families are paying for it... and most importantly... our children are paying for it!
the Black grandfathers represent that other road we walk from time to time as well... that one we call Maji-mekana (the bad road)... this is the road we walk when we abuse alcohol, drugs... when we are abusive to others or ourselves... lying, cheating , stealing....... when we are walking in this way we are told that we are walking upon this road... but again we are also reminded... just as there are teachings on the other road, there are also teachings on this road as well... for example ... that alcohol is a medicine... cocaine is a medicine... heroine is a medicine... anything and everything that comes from Mother Earth is a medicine... but what happens when we don’t respect that medicine ? ... it can come back to hurt us... and that’s exactly what we see today in our families and in our communities ... is that people have not respected these medicines... and now our families are paying for it... and most importantly... our children are paying for it!

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