Kina Gbezhgomi celebrates Culture Days at M’Chigeeng powwow grounds

M’CHIGEENG—The M’Chigeeng powwow grounds were the site of a two-day event jam-packed with cultural events and teachings entitled ‘Neyaap Ji-Nsastaming Edming Bimaadziwin,’ or Bringing Back the Understanding of the Good Life with the Teachings of our Elders. Over the course of Friday, October 21 and Saturday, October 22, the free event hosted traditional teachings on the first day that included ‘Traditional Gifts’ with Marilyn Debassige, ‘Sacred Fire teachings with Flints’ with Alex Bisson, Women’s Roles and Responsibilities’ with Elaine Debassige, ‘Rites of Passage’ with Don Cada, ‘Scone Making’ with Patsy Panamick, ‘Anishinabemowin’ with Elaine Debassige, ‘Historical Treaties of Robonson Huron’ with Terry Debassige, ‘Birchbark Making’ with Louie Francis, ‘Significance of Spirit Names and Colours with Alex Bisson and ‘Clan Teachings’ by Alan Corbiere. Ongoing children’s activities included ‘Rock Painting, Moccasin Wall Art and Fall Art.’

The second day schedule included ‘Gifts of Life/Healing through Culture’ with Gerry Kaboni and Linda Kaboni, ‘Hoop Dance’ with Becky Beaudry, ‘Leather Pouches’ with Abby Gail and ‘Haker Making,’ Seven Developmental Stages of Life’ with Dorothy Fox, ‘Berry Fast’ with Marilyn Debassige, ‘Powwow Dance Styles (females)’ with Lynn Migwans, ‘Powwow Dance Styles (male) with Craig Fox, ‘Men’s Roles and Responsibilities’ with Don Cada, and ‘Two Spirited’ with Gina Simon. Although there was a rain date set aside in case of inclement weather, summer appeared to have returned to Manitoulin during the Cultural Days events and the workshops took place inside large tents set up for the purpose or outdoors as was appropriate.

“We went over identity, labelling, the impact of so-called ‘not fitting in’ and my own personal life experiences,” said Ms. Simon of her presentation. “How society mistreats people or misunderstands and how that kind lead to complexity in lives. It can be very deadly. It is not about society accepting them, it is more about them accepting themselves.”

Left: Women’s traditional dancer Lynn Migwans discusses the history and traditions of her dance style. Middle: There was plenty on hand for young folks to do during the cultural days programming. Right: Wiikwemkoong Species at Risk coordinator Theodore Flamand was on hand to talk wild rice and other gifts of the land. Bottom: Invasive species merchandise.
Photos by Michael Erskine