Standing in Our Truth
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
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 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.
Gathering was held for many reasons; one being that we need to hear more from
our community and our Teachers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Grandmothers are going to continue in their quest to be heard and to continue
to speak out for the young and for the women.
Ogichidaakwe are going to be standing strong for the people and for the Earth.
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.
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,
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.
From Mitch Bourbonnier, MC for the
“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
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
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
Moderator will provide
Panel with topics and questions
Open discussions from
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.
Peter Atkison – Anishinaabe.
The Clans and how they are relevant today. What are the Teaching behind
Open forum until close
Closing Prayer – Clarence Nepinak -
Closing Song. Singers & Drum
needed to participate. Please contact Rose.
March 23, 2012 8am
Pipe Ceremony – David Blacksmith Community Elder-Healer
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?
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
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
Ceremony Protocol in
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
*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.
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.
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?”
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
Anything Else? Agenda:
This is a Teaching Gathering. Ceremony Protocol expected to be adhered