Monday, April 30, 2012

Namesake, 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. Looking at the original baptism certificate it is not in my Mom or Dad's handwriting. So I can guess it was filled in by the Nun or Priest.  In any case, I was thinking about namesakes and what that means.
My Dad's 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 namesake 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 namesake. 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 namesake 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.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

G'waabaamin Elizabeth Fontaine

Born: June 16, 1928
Date of Passing: April 17, 2012


ELIZABETH BEATRICE FONTAINE (nee GUIMOND) June 16, 1928 April 17, 2012 Mothers are a blessing everywhere to their children. But, some mothers have their own uniqueness as well. Such was the case with our mother who became The Mother of Many Children! Elizabeth was born in Sagkeeng First Nation and attended the boarding school at an early age of three years old. She was the daughter of Pauline (nee Courchene) and Xavier Guimond. She was also predeceased by her husband and co-worker Stan Fontaine Sr., in 1997, her children Vivian, Maxine, Anne and Arnold, her sisters Lillian, Marie and her brother Harry. She leaves to mourn her daughters Bertha (Marcel), Irma, Ingrid (John) and Iris, sons Stan Jr. (Ramona), Barry, Derry (Karen) and Darrell, 24 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, sisters Antoinette Boubard, Emily Boulette, Lorraine Morrisseau and Grace Johnson and many relatives. In 1968, Elizabeth finished her upgrading classes at Sagkeeng and moved with the family to Winnipeg in 1969. She got a job with Social Development in 1971-1972 and with the Native Alcoholism Council of Manitoba in 1973, where she worked until her demise. She just missed the 40th anniversary of the Native Addictions Council which was celebrated in March 2012. During her tenure with the Native Addictions Council, Elizabeth became one of the original workers and supervisor/elder of the Pritchard House Treatment Program. During that time period, it is estimated that there were approximately 70,000 clients who had gone through the agency. Many clients and ex-clients have come to know her from across Canada. She was once featured in a documentary entitled, The Mother of Many Children! Elizabeth's main philosophy of life was the Golden Rule, to treat others as we would be treated. For her, the job became more of a sacred responsibility to our fellow human beings. She was prepared to go the extra mile and would often cab it to work in the early morning hours and put in some nine hours each day. The many who knew her espoused her for her strength and kindness. Elizabeth left an indelible mark in the minds and hearts of those who came to know her. Even in her weeks before her demise, she admonished some of her children, Always treat other with respect! Let us do today as she would have us do! Let us be clean as she would have us be; Let us be brave and fine and strong and true; Fulfilling her dreams for you; her dreams for me. Above the gift is the Giver; let us give; The precious substance of our life to make; The world a better place because we live. Let us live worthily for her dear sake. By: Grace Noll Crowell The family wishes to extend it deep appreciation to all for the care given to our mother in her time of need. Thank you kindly. Wake service will be held at Thunderbird House, 715 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB beginning Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. to Friday, April 20, 2012. Funeral service will be held at the Thunderbird House, 715 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB on Friday, April 20, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. Interment will follow at Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Condolences may be sent to the family c/o Spirit Road Funeral Services Inc., PO Box 200, Fort Alexander, Manitoba, R0E 0P0, 204-340-6490 or friends may leave a message of sympathy on the web site of the Omega Funeral Home,



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Native Elder to Adopt Archbishop Weisgerber as brother.

Via Email.  Tobasonakwut Kinew:

Indian Residential School Survivors to adopt
Roman Catholic Archbishop in the name of Reconciliation

Traditional “Naabagoondiwin”  adoption ceremony to be held in Winnipeg

On Saturday, April 14th, Anishinaabe elders and community leaders Phil Fontaine, Bert Fontaine, Fred Kelly and Tobasonakwut Kinew will adopt James Weisgerber, the Archbishop of Winnipeg, in an open ceremony at the Thunderbird House.

This is the first event of its kind in the reconciliation between residential school survivors and missionary churches. Naabaagoondiwin is the Anishinaabe ceremony of “making relations”. This ancient ceremony was carried out by families seeking to share their love and welcome with a new relative, or in times of welcoming newcomers into their territory, or to bring peace between warring nations, feuding families and rival villages.

In the same spirit, a bond of brotherhood will be formed between the four residential school survivors and the archbishop. By forging a bond of kin, they will show their commitment to the project of reconciliation between First Nations people and other Canadians, and to healing the effects of the residential school era.

“The ceremony is to be a public event so that more survivors, the generation following who are still impacted, and leaders can witness the historic and unbreakable bond that will be be made,” says elder Tobasonakwut Kinew. “It is our fervent hope that this will further the process of reconciliation in a broader sense.”

People will also witness the younger generation conducting the adoption ceremony, as a statement that First Nations people and traditions will survive into the next millennia.

The public event will be held at the Thunderbird House, Winnipeg, from 1-4 pm.


Tobasonakwut Kinew and Archbishop Weisgerber first met during the April 2009 delegation of First Nations people that had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, when the Pope addressed the Catholic Church’s involvement in the Canadian Indian Residential School system. Phil Fontaine, then National Chief, led the AFN delegation of Residential School survivors, with Tobasonakwut Kinew invited as the Elder. Archbishop Weisgerber was an integral part of the planning and the clerical delegation.

Since that time, Tobasonakwut and the Archbishop have become close friends, with many meetings and discussions, leading to Archbishop Weisgerber participating in spiritual ceremonies while Tobasonakwut began attending church at the Archbishop’s invitation. More dialogue continued, with Kelly and both Fontaines becoming involved.

Tobasonakwut Kinew, LL.D., is an Anishinaabe Elder, pipecarrier, member of the Mideiwin and Sundance or many years.  He is an instructor in the Indigenous Governance and Masters of Development Practice programs at the University of Winnipeg.

Fred Kelly is an Anishinabe Elder and a member of the Midewin, the Traditional Law and Medicine Society. He continues to serve as an advisor as an advisor to many prominent First Nations leaders in Canada and was also a member of the team that negotiated the Indian Residential School Agreement.

Phil Fontaine, LL.D., is a renowned Anishinaabe leader, a former three-term National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who is widely regarded for bringing about theIndian Residential School Agreement (2005) and the formal apology of the Government of Canada in 2008. Phil is a consultant and an in-demand public speaker.

Bert Fontaine, brother of Phil Fontaine, is a family patriarch, a leader in  the Sagkeeng First Nation, and a renowned hockey player.
The Most Reverend V. James Weisgerber, S.O.M., D.D., is the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Winnipeg, and serves as President of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Manitoba and Co-chair of the Moving Forward Together Campaign.He has worked on social justice issues his whole life.
Archbishop James Weisgerber (centre) and his adopted brothers Tobasonakwut Kinew, Bert Fontaine, former Assembly of First Nations national chief Phil Fontaine and Fred Kelly dance around the Thunderbird House after a reconciliation ceremony Saturday.
Archbishop James Weisgerber (centre) and his adopted brothers Tobasonakwut Kinew, Bert Fontaine, former Assembly of First Nations national chief Phil Fontaine and Fred Kelly dance around the Thunderbird House after a reconciliation ceremony Saturday.
A sombre Phil Fontaine apologized Saturday afternoon for indiscriminately blaming all Catholics for his treatment in residential schools.
"I tarred everyone with the same brush -- I was wrong, simply wrong," the former Assembly of First Nations national chief told a gathering of reconciliation at Thunderbird House. "I apologize. I say that from my heart."
Fontaine was part of a traditional ceremony, in which he and three other men adopted Archbishop James Weisgerber as an act of reconciliation.
But as the five men each spoke in turn, Fontaine issued his own apology.
His past public reaction to his experiences in residential schools overshadowed the goodness of many people, Fontaine said: "My words have also hurt a lot of people, my bitterness, my anger. I was indiscriminate in my words."
Weisgerber said that he was deeply moved by the willingness of aboriginal people to forgive, after the church did so much damage to aboriginal people and their culture. "I believe we have a very long way to go, but it’s a road worth travelling," Weisgerber said.

"They who shall not be Named"

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