Friday, May 25, 2012

Survivors of Suicide Gathering May 29, 30 2012

For Immediate Release
Traditional Aboriginal Gathering targets Survivors of Suicide for Healing. May 29, 30, 2012 Winnipeg, Mb

Thunderbird House of Winnipeg, will host a two day Circle of Life Gathering: Healing Our Grief,  on Tuesday May 29 and Wednesday May 30, 2012.  This is the third year in a four journey for volunteers, David Blacksmith, Stephanie Eyolfson, Don Courchene, Peter Kinew, Ron & Sally McDonald, Chickadee Richards, Jessica Burton and Betty Laschuk. Each of these people is a survivor of suicide. Someone close to them has taken their life by way of suicide. Betty Laschuk is a spokesperson for Compassionate Friends of Winnipeg. Although it has been over 20 years, Betty continues to grieve the loss of her child. Betty sees the aftermath of losing a child. As a volunteer for Compassionate Friends, Betty continues to host Parents that have lost children. “The pain never goes away”.

The volunteers know that suicide is not a comfortable subject to deal with. All the more reason to have an outlet in which survivors can come, share, feel safe and confide in one another. The event is strictly volunteer driven.  Don Courchene says, “We know people do not personally invest unless it is something that affects them directly”. Would you join the Walk for Cancer if cancer did not affect you? Many causes are personally driven for that reason, it has affected someone personally. The task for drivers of a cause is to make everyone aware and try to engage them into getting involved. The Survivors of Suicide Gathering is to provide a release valve for those dealing with the issues related to suicide; such as depression, isolation, grief, negative stigma, anger, longing, loss of faith, blame and other harmful thoughts. There is also an attempt to educate the wider audience. Suicide is not an isolated event. Suicide brings the community along and shares the pain. Many people are affected: the police member and first responder dealing with aftermath, the parent, the sibling, the children, the friends, colleagues, and so on. The result is a feeling difficult to describe: The police member who has to remove the body from a home where a child has hanged themselves. How do they get that image out of their minds? How do they face the parents? The friends at school, how do they react and how do they feel?  It is important to recognize that suicide is not an isolate event. A huge interest for the Gathering has been expressed by Aboriginal communities throughout Manitoba. We expect visitors to the Gathering from people as far away as Lac Brochet.

Suicide has been making the news due to incidents involving professional athletes: Junior Seau, Wade Belak, Mike Flanagan, Rick Rypien. Suicide knows no bounds. It can happen where we least expect.  Many people do not know where to turn when things get to hard to handle.  Prevention is difficult but if people are more aware perhaps they can be in a situation to react and help someone in need. The Survivors know this: “We would not want anyone to know the pain we are feeling”. Suicide death is one of the most difficult situations to understand and work through.  The volunteers and speakers attending the Gathering want to stress that they are only interested in helping others. “If you work for the people, in essence, you are working for the Creator”.  

For more information please contact: Don Courchene 471-2697, Stephanie Eyolfson 940-4240, David Blacksmith 294-4861, or Steve 470-5207.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bruce Willis: not an English Bulldog: not my dream dog.

Well looks like I did not get my dream dog after all. My dream dog was to be an English Bulldog. You know the kind? The one in the Sherlock Holmes movies. The nice big headed, slobbering flat face with short bow legs and a big chest. Nope Bruce Willis is not that kind of Bulldog (Gladstone the Bulldog). It's strange too as when I went to the Breeder I talked about what I was looking for and was talking about the breeds, like the Valley Bulldog, the Max Bulldog, that were not my choice of Bulldog. I did not get to see the parents of Bruce Willis but I did see a picture of the father and he does look like a big headed, slobbering flat face with shore legs and big body type of do I was after. It's sad too as I went against Suz's wishes of not getting a dog. I did not quibble over the price, just gave out what was advertised on the internet. It is sad because I suspect that Bruce Willis will be my last dog. You know you have a dog for about 10 years and I know after that I would not be getting one. So I had a vision of what me and Bruce Willis would be like. The pal, my constant companion. Along with his big fat head and all the glory of being an English Bulldog.
My problem is that there is nothing wrong with Bruce Willis. Don't get me wrong, he is a very nice dog. And to make things worse, my girl Chloe is crazy over him, and Bruce Willis is Her Dog. Suz has become very fond of Bruce Willis and he is now a member of the family.
We had a big argument over Bruce Willis the other night. Suz said she was tired of me always saying Bruce Willis is not what I wanted. She said he is fine and does not want to hear it anymore. Problem is I can't stop thinking. Thinking all the time about Bruce Willis and what he is not. It is not what I visioned. Now I fear I am getting resentful. Resentful towards the woman who sold Bruce Willis as a Bulldog. Turns out Bruce Willis is an "Olde English Bulldog" and not at all what I wanted. Even though we had a nice conversation of what I was looking for.I know I have problems about over thinking. I obsess over things. That is bad. I get physically sick over things. Things that should not be a worry. It stays in my head and I can't let it go. Last night I stood inside my shed for the longest time, thinking, just thinking. All about my dream dog. Stupid I know. Oh well what can you do?

This what Bruce Willis looks like. He's handsome, I know, but he is not what I visioned.

 Does he look like an English Bulldog?

I have talked to the woman who sold the dog and she is very nice but still it doesn't change the fact that Bruce Willis is not my vision. We have been vigilant with taking him to the vet and making sure he gets quality food as well. We play with him. He goes everywhere with me in the car. He is good with the Grandkids. Although he did start off biting them and jumping on them, but he is kind of over that now.

I know I should just get over it and get the idea of Bulldog out of my head. And he is a good dog. Fun, strong and starting to behave a little bit. He has the odd accident but he is pretty good and making sure to do his duty outside. He looks like a small boxer. He is
not big chested or have the head of a Bulldog. I am not
sure what he is. In any case I am going to get over my
Obsession with an English Bulldog. I know Bruce Willis should have healthier life than the English, and so I am good with that. So Bruce Willis is here to stay.
But I would be weary of what is out there, even nice people can steer you wrong.
Bruce Willis will be my side for the next long while. And who knows, maybe I will get over it and accept Bruce Willis for what he is, what ever that is?

You know what ticks me off is that we weren't going to get another dog. Rufus was our oldest pet and he died 7 years ago. Just a few months after my boy died. Rufus was a miniature Schnauzer. He had been 13 years old. He was smart and had a big personality. So my wife did not want to replace him and that was the thing, no dog. But I got Bruce Willis and was being selfish. And that's what I get for it. Teach me a lesson, not to be selfish. I guess I should have learned not to be selfish long ago.

Well that's my little confession for today. I know its not an Ojibway Confession but hey its what I think.

Rufus looked this dog here (it is what my wife visioned a Schnauzer looked like, and what we got).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Circle of Life Gathering May 29, 30, 2012. Hello Folks

May 16, 2012

Circle of Life Gathering: Healing Our Grief After Suicide Loss
Hello Folks;
This is the third year of our four year journey. We are hosting a Gathering for Survivors of Suicide this May 29 and 30th, 2012. The journey is a personal journey for many of us. We are Survivors. A loved One of ours has passed on by way of taking their life. We started this journey with the intent to let people know that they are not alone. There are others that are trying to cope with the loss due to suicide. It is a difficult journey but one that is filled with hope. It is a hope that others will come out and share, while lending us a helping hand and helping others as well.  

The Gathering is a two day event that is meant for healing of the many people that have come in contact with suicide. We know there are many types of survivors; the parent, the sibling, the family-daughter/son, friends, colleague, the first responder, the medical personnel, police, care-provider, and the attempted suicide survivor. Those people are all survivors. One thing we do know from experience is that suicide is not an easy subject to talk about. There are the underlining negative perceptions surrounding suicide. Most likely you have heard the clich├ęs and myths; “a cowards way out, loser, talking about suicide invites suicide, suicide attempt is for attention, suicide person wants to die, if a person is suicidal there is nothing you can do to stop it” and so on.  The gathering provides an opportunity for survivors to share their ‘event’. It is hard to walk that path of a survivor, especially if you have to walk it alone. We want people to know that they are not alone. The Gathering takes place in a Ceremonial atmosphere. No judgment and no pretense of being experts. We are people walking a path that is hard to do alone. The Gathering utilizes Aboriginal Traditional Teachers, Elders and Healers to facility the sharing of survivors. No one is obligated to come to the Gathering and no one is paid a salary to come to the Gathering. It is individuals that have personal stake in helping others in similar situations. Different Aboriginal Ceremonies have taken place at the previous Gatherings and this year that will happen again. A Give-A-Way Ceremony is an integral part of the Gathering. We are sharing our hearts with the people who attend the Gathering. Honoring their presence with a Give-A-Way Ceremony is one way to thank all the generous people and organizations that support the Gathering.

The theme of this years’ Gathering is Healing our Grief. Elder Peter Kinew has pointed us in that direction. There will be more open and sharing forums for the people at the Gathering. Regrettably,  Traditional Elder Ron and Sally McDonald (two of the original organizers and presenters) cannot make it to the Gathering this year, but they continue to support with their good wishes. Ron is graduating from post-secondary education and has conflicting schedules. We know that they continue to work with people and no doubt will be back next year. We will also have Traditional Elder David Blacksmith share on how he is walking through the grief of losing his Mother. Don Courchene has begun the information sharing with the public and is driving the logistics of the Gathering. Don has been actively seeking out donations of support from the business sector in Manitoba.

A number of businesses have come forth with donations to help with the Gathering. The success of the Gathering has been through the generousity and kindness of others.  This year Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation will be donating one thousand towards the costs. Larry Penner of Penner oil has made a gift of two thousand dollars to the Gathering in care of Thunderbird House. CTV has donated a four hour hot air balloon ride. The expectation is that we will raffle off the balloon ride to raise some money for the Gathering.  Manitoba Hydro has donated 2 backpacks, which will be included in the Give-A-Way Ceremony. David and Sheryl Blacksmith have donated a number of art prints. Edwin Twoheart has made two Single Eagle fans.  Larry Solider owner of ARBOC gas station of Swan Lake has donated pop drinks and juice as well as three cans of Tobacco for the Ceremony. Stephanie Eyolfson at Thunderbird House has again donated the use of their building for the Gathering.  Stephanie is one of the Champions of the Gathering and is actively involved with the organization of the Gathering. Local Aboriginal talented artist, Jackie Traverse has donated one of her original paintings. Aboriginal owned Teeka Gifts have donated two beaded lanyards. Susan Courchene, with her friends (April Kakepatum, Annette Dugas, Barb Nichol) continue to support the Gathering with the preparation of food and labour. Arlene Patzer has been purchasing food and paper product supplies for the Gathering. Allan Spence has donated fifty dollars towards the Gathering.  Bertha Fontaine has donated the paper products for the Feast for the Gathering. Compassionate Friends of Winnipeg will be sharing with the people at the Gathering. Compassionate Friends (Betty and Marchetta) have supported the Gathering from the start and continues to support. We have commitments to help the Gathering from Chickadee Richards, Mitch Bourbonnier, Cheryl James, Billie Schibler, Sheryl Blacksmith and JT Turner . SPEAK (of KLINIC)and Jessica Burton will be on hand with information of Suicide Prevention.  Heather Dobson and Denise Everett have become part of the organizing group and are going to be participating at the Gathering. The Gathering is always looking for more help from people and organizations.

Traditional Teacher  Gerald Folster (and Don Robson)from Brokenhead Ojibway Nation is participating in the Gathering. Gerald has a Ceremony called the Medicine Tree Ceremony for people who have lost someone to suicide. He is willing to participate in the Gathering and do the Ceremony.  Corinne Kennedy of CMK Design designed the poster. In the past we have brought in many guest speakers from various places, but this year we are focusing on local people to lead the Gathering.  Native Addictions Council of Manitoba is actively participating in the Gathering this year. Many of the counselors of NACM have deep connections to the cause of helping survivors of suicide and dealing with loss. We are very glad to have all of these talented and supportive people taking part in this years’ Survivor of Suicide Gathering.  

We will keep you updated as to the Gathering’s progress. Feel free to contact us at  We would like to hear from you about the Gathering.



P.S. People have been asking “why do you do this for nothing?” I know my brother Don has been asked that on a few occasions. Elder Peter Kinew has been asked that as well.  It is an interesting question to ask and no, the organizing of the Gathering is not done for nothing. Peter once told me he is not interested in making money off the death of his Son.  Someone had asked him how much money he was getting for the Gathering.  So he was telling me about his response. We do not pay ourselves money nor do we pay speakers to come to the Gathering.  For me, I do have an agenda. It is my hope that the minds of people become aware of the effect that suicide has on the survivors. We need to seriously put effort in prevention of suicide and we need to not forget about those left behind. For me personally I don’t want my Son to be only a memory. I want him to live on. I do go around and ask people for help, because I really know we can’t do the Gathering on our own. We need people to emotional invest in the cause of prevention and helping those left behind. We need awareness about suicide. It should not be a ten second sound bite on the news. It is real long lasting and devastation to those left behind. I really want the Leaders to understand that there are people out there that need support; an open ear for listening is what they need. That is my agenda: I want people to become aware of the devastation from suicide and to stop from happening to their family, their friends. I wear my Grief and it is an open wound that I am not sure can heal.

Again, thank you for all the support and for those good thoughts.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What are they doing in Heaven today?

Do you recognize me? Do you see me? My Boy. I went on youtube and spent a few hours watching videos of teens that have taken their lives. Many from bullying. Also watched the Golden Gate Bridge video. Suicides on camera. One of a young man taking pictures, he saved this young girl. It is weird to watch. Ugly to watch. I remember the day as well. Our Gathering for survivors of suicide is coming up. I am not sure if it helps. I want so much for it to help. Maybe to help me, but at least someone that we can hear. Let them talk.

I hope there is someplace for our loved ones to see us. To meet other family members out there on some other plane of existence. I think its true. Many times I know they are in Heaven, or my version of a Heaven. Sometimes I worry about missing them or passing them by when I die. What if they don't see me? I miss them so much. Hope they are singing and laughing and teasing in their Heaven. Miss you my Boy and I love you very much. Dad.

Shoal Lake: Lessons in Hospitality

Lodge; meetings - ceremonies

Store and Laundromat service
Went out to Shoal Lake Sunday Night. A beautiful place. The landscape, the trees, the water, the rocks; it's all just fantastic. Even as spectacular is the people. We stopped by to get some tobacco for a Ceremony being held there and my brother met some lady that he knew there, her name is Phylis. She was very very friendly, open and a big smile. It just makes you feel so welcome. We were going out to Shoal Lake for a Shake Tent Ceremony. Eli Mandamin had called my brother Don to invite him to come out. So I tagged along. We stopped by to visit before the Ceremony at Ian's place. Ian had come over to the store to meet us. He is the husband of one of a friend of Don, her name is Gina. We went over to visit at his place. Holy heck does he have view from his backyard. The water looks inviting. Ian, Gina  and their family love to fish. His four year old boy Quinton reeled in his first Walleye the other day. The visit was too short, but it was fun. A bit of teasing and laughter always makes you feel good. Invites where given to come out and fish with them. They gave Don a whole bunch of Walleye. Their brother Ron came over and introduced himself. I know of Ron, through my sister Jean. Ron is a young Traditional Midiwiwin Teacher. He is gifted. He took us to where the Ceremony was to held. But first we stopped to pick some Cedar to bring back home. When we got to the Ceremony site, Ron made sure to let us know that if the Ceremony went on very late into the night that we were welcome to stay at their place. It was late when we got to Shoal Lake and the Ceremony had not yet started.
We went to introduce ourselves at the Lodge. A few people Don knew were there. A young man named Herbert was there, and turns out he is friends with our cousin Frankie. Frankie and Herbert sang on Drum together.
I met this man, not old but not young, and he is one of the Leaders in the community. He was not friendly to me and was kind of surly. Hey that happens. I didn't get a welcome feeling from him. This Councilor should take a lesson from his people. A smile, a warm gesture sure does make an impression.
Eli showed up and we got to visit with him for a short period of time. I haven't seen him in a long while. He is friends with Don, and Eli is Chief of the community. I told him I was sorry to hear about his boy. Eli's Son was murdered in Winnipeg not too long ago.
It was late and the Ceremony was not starting, so we decide to go home. Sadly the big impression of the Councilor sat heavy on my shoulders. Not sure why. I guess it is the protocol of Ceremony, you are going there to support, for healing. I guess I judged him harshly because of all the good people we were meeting that day. It was such a contrast from all the good feelings that we got from the people. Maybe he was going through a rough time, but I didn't get that from him. I just got that he was angry, resentful and unfriendly, oh well.
Anyway, Shoal Lake does make you feel welcome, and happy. I would recommend to anyone stop by the community. If you don't know anyone, someone will talk to you and make you feel good in the community.
Like my brother says, "they have such a good spirit there".


The Store

Ian's View

"and I'll tell you another thing..."

Ron: a Very nice young man

"I'll take to you where the Ceremony is being held"


Inside the Lodge

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Standing In Our Truth Gathering 2012 Recap.

Standing in Our Truth Gathering 2012

A Gathering was held at the Thunderbird House, Winnipeg Manitoba on March 21 to 23, 2012. It was a Gathering for all people working for the Creator and living life in a Good way.
The Gathering began with the coming of the Thunderbirds. A Sweatlodge Ceremony was held at the beginning of the week for the people of the Gathering. The Sweatlodge took place at the home of Lawrence Henry from Roseau River, Manitoba.  It was here that good thoughts and good life was asked for all the people coming to and involved in the Gathering.

The Gathering brought out a number of Elders, Traditional Healers, Teachers and Helpers to share the Teachings, their thoughts and ideas with the community. Although an agenda was developed the Gathering grew into something other than the programmed agenda. A number of Traditional people were on hand to offer Teachings and thoughts for the community in attendance.

The Gathering was held for many reasons; one being that we need to hear more from our community and our Teachers. 

It became apparent that the Gathering was meant to occur at this time. The Thunderbirds were present at a time of year when they are normally quiet. A Thunderbird Pipe was shared among the people. The Pipe was given to a young Woman to share with the People. This Pipe had not been brought out in a long time. One Woman was asked to smoke the Pipe, turned out she shares the name of Pipe.  The Background story of where the Pipe came from was shared with the people.

The Grandmothers Council is a group of Women that are dedicated to the safety of our youth and for the Women. The Grandmothers hold a Walk that is reaching National and International audiences. Indigenous people are worried about their Women. As a group these Grandmothers are asking why are Women being killed and going missing.  Why is there so much violence within and towards our youth. Grandmothers (Kookumag) say they are going to continue to stand-up for the youth and for the women.

Some Elders and Teachers realize that change can be made working within the system that currently exists. Use your talents and get into the system, but remember your Teachings. Try to work within to educate those that are ignorant of our culture and our issues. While some say that the system must be shaken-up; we are on the outside of the mainstream and must use our voices in a manner that alerts people of the wrongs that exist. In both instances the concept is to continue to work for your people. Working the people is akin to working for the Creator. Whenever you look at someone, remember that person is a Child of the Creator.

The Elders, Teachers and the Ogichidaakwe (Ogichidaa * Elder stated that really Ogichidaa denotes both Women and Men) are really worried as to the state of the world. We are battling to save the Earth. We cannot be apathetic when it comes to voicing and acting to save the Forests, the water, the air and the animals. The Ogichidaa invite people to come and join them. More men are needed to walk with the women. The passion in the voice of the Ogichidaawke is strong.  Seek them out and join them.

A number of Elders worry about the death of our Languages. We need to start speaking at every opportunity. The Creator gave us a language. It is important to keep that Language going and being heard by our young ones. It must not die. Learn your name in the Language that the Creator gave to you. Introduce yourself in that way. Do not be discouraged and keep trying. Seek out the Teachers.  It is a beautiful language that must continue for time immemorial.

Many Elders made open invitations to come and see them. Approach them. They have knowledge and are willing to share with you. Many of the Women need to know about their Roles and how special they are. How they are keepers of the Water. Invitations from the Elders are sincere and heartfelt.

Within the Traditional community there are those that may do wrong. Whether it is misguided efforts or for personal gain on their part; the consequence is far reaching. The consequence of one individual’s mistake may reflect on the larger community. That is something that many Elders and Teachers are concerned about. In other Indigenous communities they have developed systems to recognize their circles. This is something that may be useful in Manitoba, if people could develop a system that assists the wider public in knowing who is who in the Traditional community. It is a contencious issue but one that the Traditional Circle is willing to look at. A first step could be a list of who is available in the community as a resource.

There were many Teachers and Teachings to hear at the Standing in Our Truth Gathering.  We also must always remember Protocol. There are steps to be taken in passing on Traditions. Do not take shortcuts. If you do not know protocol just ask. Remember to start with Tobacco. It is a time honoured Tradition and must not be taken for granted.

The Gathering was a success as it had many different people speaking and taking part. The Gathering was a result of volunteer efforts by many people. No funding was available for the event and it was left to various individual to support the event. Miigwich, there are many of you that took part. Many of you shared your experience, your advice,  your words of comfort and Teachings for the people in attendance. Many of you that took charge at the Gathering; looking after the people. We are sorry not to name you all, because there are so many of you good hearted people.

What Next?
The amount of violence, domestic violence against women continues. The number of young Aboriginal people being killed and hurt is staggering. The push towards environmental damage is unheard of. The troubles for Indigenous people continue to mount. We need access to the Elders, Teachers and our Healers. There is more to the community than “just the streets”. If you look you fill find. The Elders are reaching out. Make the effort to see them. They are there to help you and will help.

The Elders know that it is not easy to be Aboriginal in today’s world. The world has changed so much.  Life is hard in this world. Being a young Aboriginal person does not mean a short life. There are opportunities out there for you. Reach out to the Traditional people. They will guide with the help of the Teachings.

Thunderbird House is a focal point in the City of Winnipeg. The Elders are asking that the larger community and the Aboriginal Leaders lend their voice to the sustainability of Thunderbird House. Our Traditions and Ceremonies can happen in Winnipeg as well as the local communities. First Nations, Metis and non-Aboriginal people are all welcome at the Circle of Life: Thunderbird House. Let’s keep it in our minds and our hearts.

The Grandmothers are going to continue in their quest to be heard and to continue to speak out for the young and for the women.
The Ogichidaakwe are going to be standing strong for the people and for the Earth. Join them.
The Elders are kind and willing to share their gifts, their language and the Teachings with anyone that seeks it. Be willing to make the effort. All you need to start is Tobacco. There is a wealth of Resource for you in the Teachings by the Elders.

Please contact Thunderbird House and provide them with list(s) of Elders, Healers, Medicine People, Helpers that you may know. Also with dates and places where Ceremonies are being held. It is a good list for people to know and how to access these people and places. Thunderbird House could give people information as to what is happening in Traditional Country (ie. Sweats, Sundance, Ceremonies, etc.)

There will continue to be events and there will continue to be people willing to give their time for events. Look for those people and those events. Your help is always wanted and needed.

*Note From Mitch Bourbonnier, MC for the Gathering.

“I will share with you some of my thoughts about the gathering.  First off, I would like to thank you, Cheryl James, and Chickadee for being the energy behind this gathering.  Others to thank include Calvin and Noonda who helped out and cooked.  Also Elma who sang for us.  The Thunderbird House staff should also be applauded.  Having the Men's Drum group Wednesday night and the Women's Drum group Thursday and Friday were important.  The speakers that stood out for me included Billy Schibbler and Margaret Lavallee, Sheryl Blacksmith, the Nepinaks, Jo Seenie Redsky, Lawrence Henry, and Johnny Hawk.  In particular, I was quite moved by Melvin Swan's words and the pipe ceremony he did on Wednesday night.  Finally, I would like to acknowledge the different groups who attended including, Rossbrook House, David Livingston School, The Eagle's Nest Program, Yellowquill College, and the Red River Languages program.  There were a couple of moving moments involving youth.  One was Calvin, a young man from Eagle's Nest, doing a song surrounded by supporters.  The other was three young children from David Livingston bringing and offering medicines to the Grandmothers.  Hopes this helps.
Mitch  Bourbonnier  

Standing In Our Truth
Gathering March 21, 22, 23, 2012

March 21, 2012                  6pm -9pm
Pipe Ceremony – Lawrence Henry. Roseau River Okijidaa
Opening Remarks – Barbara Nepinak, Chickadee Richards, Sheryl Blacksmith
Introductions of Elders/Healers/Teachers/Helpers
What is our goal? What would the people like to see? What are the issues we face? What should our Roles be? Should there be a data base of Elders?
Melvin Swan – Protecting Our People. Role of a Warrior.
Michael Champagne – Moderator
Tea – Coffee & Visiting among the People
March 22, 2012                  8am – 5pm
Pipe Ceremony – Margaret Lavalle.  Anishinaabe Elder, Grandmothers Council
Opening Remarks – Billie Shibbler, The Grandmothers Council – We are here.
Panel Discussions – Moderator Michael Champagne & TBA
Panel will include the Elders Council of Thunderbird House, Grandmothers Council, Ogichidakwe, Community Based Elders/Teachers/Healers, TBA guests, (panel open for all Elders to participate)
Moderator will provide Panel with topics and questions
Open discussions from Gathering Participants.
Lunch – Volunteers and food donations needed for the Gathering. Please contact Rose at 940-4240 and let her know if you can help with food or your labour. Miigwich.
Presentation – Johnny Hawk – Anishinaabe Ogichidaa Ontario.  Living as an Ogichidaa.
Break –
Peter Atkison – Anishinaabe.  The Clans and how they are relevant today. What are the Teaching behind the Clans?
Open forum until close
Closing Prayer – Clarence Nepinak   -  Closing Song.   Singers & Drum needed to participate. Please contact Rose.

March 23, 2012                  8am – 5pm
Pipe Ceremony – David Blacksmith Community Elder-Healer
Presentation – Comprehensive Community Initiative on Addictions (CCI) – “Should there be an Elders list for the wider community to have access to?” What happens when a person does wrong and how it impacts the community?
Presentation Jo Seenie-Redsky.  - What is the impact of colonialism? Do we recognize colonialism in our daily actions?
Panel Discussions: What are our roles? Grandmothers Council will lead the Discussions with their presentations.
Lunch – Volunteers needed and food needed.
Ogichida – Lawrence Henry. Meaning of Ogichida.   The Relevance today. 
Panel Discussions – Open forum of the Gathering.  How do we walk what we say? Working for togetherness. How do we stop abuse in our homes, from rogue Teachers?

Where to from here? 
Ceremony Protocol in Place.
Please have your Tobacco, presentations (gifts for Elders), Women Skirts, Moccasins (slippers) Respect and Kindness to your Relatives at the Gathering. 

Sage is needed for Smudge.
*This is not a funded Gathering, it is done by the community for the community. Please come and take part in any way that you can.

·         The discussion started here. Here is part of the process for the Gathering.

What:  A Gathering for Traditional Teachers and Learners.  Four days of Traditional Teachings, instructions and Sharing.

Who:   Comprehensive Community Initiative on Addictions (CCI): Cultural Advisory Council - Clarence Nepinak, David Blacksmith, Jules Lavalle, Barbara Nepinak, Sherryl Blacksmith, et al.
Kokum Kaa Na Da Maa Waad Abignoojiiak Council:  Belinda Vadenbroeck, Mae Louis Campbell, Margaret Lavalle, Mary Courchene, et al.
OgichidaaKwe: Chickadee Richards, Cheryl Edwards, Jo Seenie-Redsky, et al.

For What Reason:  Why Standing in our Truth (standing with our beliefs) as the theme for the Gathering. We must be aware of the situation that Aboriginal people are facing today. The historical relationship we have had with the Earth, the Creator and the change we were forced to go through.  The (past and present) government laws, policies and actions meant to “kill the Indian”, have not left us unscathed.  Today we need to recognize where the hurt has left us in our own homes.
CCI Cultural Advisory Council are saying, “(We) believe our focus should always consider how our efforts will benefit the Children of today and future generations as well”.
Ogichidaakew are saying, “Men need to stand up for the Women and for the children; Where are they?”
Kookumag are saying, “we are tired of losing our children! What is happening to our Children?”
Anishinaabe (The People) are here to stay. They have never gone away. Despite the incredible harsh journey Aboriginal people have had to endure, they are still walking the walk of their Ancestors. The aim of the Gathering is to bring the message to more and more of Our people, that the Healing must start with Us. A great number of us are finding the Path. Becoming aware of the greatness of our people is a good start. With that start we want our Men, our brothers and sisters to each carry the ways of our Ancestors. It is a good path. It is one where we take pride in our People. We care for our people. We stand up for our People.
In Canada our people are hurting themselves: Living in Jails, abandoning their children, abandoning the Elders, killing one another, not talking the Language, abandoning the way of the Creator.
There are many ways of an Ogichidaa/Ogichidaakwe. One is that of a listener. We need to listen to the Wisdom of the Elders. We need to hear the voices of the Grandmothers. We need to stand beside the Women when they are standing up for the people. We need recognize the Earth as a Mother. We need to stand up for the Earth. We need our children to be strong. We need to engage with our Children; To be proud; To care for themselves; To LIKE themselves and To KNOW who they are.
“The Earth will shake like a dog and shed its fleas”. (AC Ross)  Environmental disasters; strange weather patterns; mass political up-rise; Loss of life; violence; and Awareness is happening throughout the World. In our own communities, Grandmothers, Mothers, Fathers, and Children are becoming aware of how important they are in the saving of the world. They need to start with their own homes as a begining. The Kookumag and Ogichidaakwe are working towards the healing of OUR homes. A path of the Kindheart Ones will be found.
“The Grandmothers and Mothers… children need to be inspired.” “Go and be With the gifted ones…the gifted ones are the people of the Heart…and you are out there.” (Dave Courchene Jr.)
One of the biggest threat to Aboriginal people is the loss of their identity. It is not enough to know that they are Aboriginal, it is ESSENTIAL that they know who they are. Who they are in: their history, their ancestors, their beliefs, their life, their relationships with the Creator, the Land, the Air, the Fire, the Universe.
Practically everyone has an idea of the Creation story told by Christianity. But how many Aboriginal people know their own stories?  That is one of the many things that society has taken.  Traditional Teachers are changing that. They are willing to share their knowledge with everyone.
The Gathering is desperately needed.
We can ask what does the Pipe represent? What is the history or significance of the SweatLodge, the Sundance, The Give-Away, the Eagle, the Deceased, the Creation, Nanaboozhoo, Where  are the Ogichidaa, what is an Ogichidaa, and much more.
The Gathering is a starting point. With the knowledge of the Elders Council, the Kookumag, the OgichidaaKwe, and resource people, the people attending will come away with a solid foundation to continue on their path.
Invitations will go out to the Aboriginal community with a focus on the youth, but EVERYONE is encouraged to attend. 

Elders/Teachers/Speakers:  Profiles TBA

How:   Much has to happen in a very short period of time, but it can be done.  The CCI Cultural Advisory Council have a wealth of knowledge in Traditional Teachings. They are determined to be inclusive in the Aboriginal Circle. Open invitations to all Elders, Teachers, Medicine People and Gifted Ones are asked to participate. The Kookumag have a wealth of Teachers that are willing a ready to speak to a Gathering.  They have an outline agenda for a day gathering. The Kookumag are local so readiness is not an issue. The OgichidaaKwe are very active in networking, organizing and engaging the community; both the Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal community. They have a number of speakers that are willing to come and share knowledge with the larger community – specifically youth. The OgichidaaKwe are inviting well respected speakers from the four directions.  Each of the people invited are Ogichidaa in their own ways. A number of volunteers required. Fire keepers. Food helpers. Elders’ Helpers. Security. Information People.
Outcomes – Deliverables: Need a person to record the event. Publish a book (perhaps) on the Teachings, that may be used by The People. A video for showing.  A report for Thunderbird House and community stakeholders and the public.  Need someone to write a narrative of the event.
Needs:  A small amount of cash is required to insure that the Gathering will happen and be successful. With any Gathering, there is the issue of accommodation, advertising, organizing, necessities. This Gathering is no different.  No fees will be giving to speakers or guests.
Suggestions of appropriate Teachers is welcome.  The goal is to have an open field when it comes to Teachers/Elders. Everyone has something to offer.  No fees will be provided for speakers and guests.For accommodations, it will be a call out for volunteers to host the guests in their homes.  That is something that we are very confident that will occur.
Firewood and Grandfathers (rocks) will be needed for Sweatlodge and Sacred Fire. Fire Keepers and Helpers will be needed.
Anything Else? Agenda:  This is a Teaching Gathering. Ceremony Protocol expected to be adhered to.

Cherokee Fiddle, cause Good Whiskey Never Let Him Lose His Place

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