M’Chigeeng celebrated its annual cultural day on Saturday

A little pipe cleaner weaving action was a great family pastime and instructive too.

M’CHIGEENG – The M’Chigeeng complex was bustling the first weekend in April and the halls were filled with the laughter of children, parents and elders as the community came out to celebrate M’Chigeeng Cultural Day.

“On behalf of the 2019 Cultural Day planning committee we would like to express our utmost gratitude to the individuals and programs who have partnered in order to make this a successful event,” said Lynn Migwans, family support program worker with the M’Chigeeng Toy Library. She remarked that there were an amazing number of elders and community members who came out to share their cultural knowledge with the youth.

“I wanted there to be a lot of activities for the youth,” said Ms. Migwans. “When there is a lot of things for the youth you get a lot of families coming out together.”

The strategy was a clear winner, judging by the numbers of folks of all ages in attendance.

“We have some great guest speakers who are coming in to share their knowledge,” she said. 

“If the legends fall silent, who will teach the children of our ways,” reads a quote from Chief Dan George. “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”

There was something for every age group available at the Cultural Day.

We be jammin’. Johnny Debassige creates a delectible treat during Jim Panamick’s uncooked jam making session. photos by Michael Erskine

“I have my medicine bundle here,” said Kenjgewin Teg elder Josh Eshkawkogan. “I just answer questions about what the items that are in it are and help those who are interested to explore what they might want in their bundle.” Eagle feather fans, different furs, medicines were among the many items he had on display. Each of the items provided a teachable moment. At the next table Jim Panamick, who has recently returned to the community after working more than 40 years at a sawmill in Chapleau, was showing people of all ages how to make a healthy and simple no-cook jam utilizing various berries and maple syrup.

There were tables with long-haired Elsa (from Disney’s Frozen) dolls that people could use to practice learning to braid hair, tables with hoops that children could decorate and a host of others featuring various artisan crafts. In one back room Craig Fox was teaching those who dropped into his back room the finer points of traditional drum.

Ms. Migwans had enlisted several youth to run errands for elders and other display exhibitors and some older youth to “make sure that nothing bad was happening.”

“We have different age groups for our fire keepers,” she said. “There are some who are 30, others who are 20 and some who are 10. The older ones are teaching the younger ones.”

Among those Ms. Migwans thanked for their efforts wee Samantha Corbiere, Sharon Debassige, Lisa Ense, Jackie Mynott, Tony Debassige and Shelba Roy.

Braiding hair is a great skill, but it takes some practice. Five-year-old Danielle has a great practice model with Elsa from the Disney’s hit ‘Frozen.’