Attending the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness workshops offered through the Loyalist College Aboriginal Resource Centre on Saturday mornings has been time well spent. Since my interest in First Nations culture and traditions goes back to my university days when I took a North American Aboriginal studies class, I couldn’t resist signing up – and I’m so glad I did!
While holding a precious eagle feather, Betty (Katsitsase) Maracle from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has shared teachings about the significance of smudging with sage and wheatgrass, spiritual tobacco, clans; e.g., turtle, bear and wolf, and my favourite, the beautiful Thanksgiving address which is offered in the Mohawk language before and after every class. This Thanksgiving graciously acknowledges the work of nature and its spirit beings. Knowing the reasons behind these traditions and how they came to be has increased my understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal values and beliefs.
Alan (Anataras) Brant, a gifted storyteller, also from Tyendinaga, has shared the Creation story and Peacemaker journey. Now Alan could have read to us or even asked us to read these stories on our own. Instead he passed on the information the old way – through the tradition of storytelling. Alan has captured the full attention of our circle through his narrations about about Sky World, the Earth Mother, Hiawatha and theTree of Peace. I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing these beliefs and have found them truly enlightening. I love the story about the brave little muskrat who gave his life so that the Earth Mother could have a place to live and grow things.
Paul Latchford, Coordinator of Aboriginal Studies at Loyalist College, has explained some of the political and social issues that face First Nations people today, and has promised to respond to our vast list of questions about colonization, governance and artistic expression.
For information about the next session of these free Aboriginal Awareness workshops, please contact Deiana at (613) 969-1913, ext. 2250 or 1-888-LOYALIST, TTY 613-962-0633, firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone is welcome!
Nya:wen (Thank you very much),