M’CHIGEENG—Birth: this incredible and miraculous event was described by a woman “as touching heaven” at the moment of the birth of her child.
On Saturday, February 4, the Anishinabe people of M’Chigeeng First Nation gathered to celebrate the birth of newborns in 2016. The annual celebration took place at the M’Chigeeng Community Centre with Chief Linda Debassige in attendance.
The decor was festive and welcoming with big dream catchers and balloons on the walls. At the long tables mason jars were used as centre pieces containing canola oil and pictures of the baby. In an adjoining room a set of parents laid their baby girl on a white fur rug and were taking pictures. The majority of parents had their baby’s picture taken as well as family photos, if they wished too.
Alma Jean Migwans opened the ceremony with a prayer and smudging ceremony using the four medicines (cedar, tobacco, sweetgrass, sage). This ceremony is a traditional ceremony to ask the Creator to help guide them in their life and to cleanse their spirit. Health Services Manager Roger Beaudin welcomed and thanked everyone present for attending this annual ceremony.
Five women (Mary D’Antouze, Alma Jean Migwans, Bonita Bebamash, Geraldine Ense McGregor and Eria Beboning) then proceeded to the front with hand drums and sang an opening song. A touch of humour was provided by a male elder when he joined the quintet and danced to the drum beat.
Lunch was then set out on the table, chicken parmesan on a bed of spaghetti with bolognese sauce, garlic bread, choice of salads, desserts and juices. Pursuant to tradition and as a sign of respect, the community elders were first to be served. The young people present were asked to help get food for those who were unable to.
After a delicious lunch the babies were called to the front to receive a gift. The children’s names are: Andralene, Blake, Mikayla, Layla, Paisley, Trinity, Kizheb Naabkawaagaan (Amelia), Serene, Rosalee, Annalise, Malika, Allison and Jackson. All babies received a welcome basket. They divided the baskets up into three different categorizes, which included: breast fed, bottle fed, and solid food. These baskets all had a little something different in them: breast-fed babies received nursing pads, nipple cream, teething ring and a rattle while bottle-fed babies received a book, teething ring and a rattle; babies graduated to solid food received a plate, spoon, fork and cup. While these baskets were unique they also had similar gifts in them; such as stuffed toy, outfit, Healthy Babies Healthy Children pamphlet, blanket with their names and date of births embordered, smudge kit with a dreamcatcher, children’s drum CD and a group photo.
The ceremony came to a close as the five women sang a closing song. Mr. Beaudin thanked the community, the parents and the babies for their participation.
Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program coordinators Deanna Sampson-Beaudin and Crystal Taibossigai organized the 2016 Baby Welcoming.