Anishnabe Knowledge Keeper Dave Courchene made opening remarks at the Grand Entry and offered a prayer of gratitude at The Forks in Winnipeg June 21, 2014, highlighting the significance of the summer solstice and the role of the Original People – the roots of their homeland.
“Boozhoo! Aniin! Dinay Makinitook! Nii Gaani Aki Inini Dizhnikaaz, Kinew Dodem.
Whenever we are given honour, receiving tobacco to offer words of gratitude to the Great Mystery of the Creator, it is indeed a privilege.
Today is a very special day that we have always honoured as a People. It was the Winter solstice that brought in the New Sun. Today we receive the fullness of the Grandfather Sun being with us, on this longest day of the year.
It is at this time that the Grandfather Sun brings the spirit of memory, that we remember as the first original and independent peoples of this land – that first of all, we are the roots of our homeland!
And this positions us with a Sacred responsibility, first of all, to greet all the uniqueness of the human family that have entered our homeland.
Being the Original People, we have the responsibility to offer our leadership, a leadership that emanates from the ancestors of our homeland. We are a spiritual People.
The spirituality that has been handed to us is a spirituality that is grounded within the deep love that we have for the land. And on this day, we also remember as a People that we remain rooted in the Original Instructions that we were given by the Great Creator.
And we have been given these Sacred Responsibilities to hold onto the uniqueness of our identity, of who we are. Today we are still challenged to live in our homeland, marginalized and not accepted or respected for the kind of people that we are.
But that day is coming, when prophecies will be fulfilled. It is here at the Forks that our people had gathered for thousands of years. The Forks is a metaphor to remind us that we must make a choice – today – do we continue to live and create a life that is destroying the Earth, destroying the world.
We are here as a People to remind each and everyone “Let’s make a good choice – a spiritual choice.” That we will go within ourselves to find the truth of the Original Instructions that we were all given, to live and behave as human beings.
It truly is a great day when we are given the blessings of our Great Creator.
So I welcome all that have come, to come and hear the voice that is from within the hearts of our people, the hearts that speak of love and kindness, respect for all life, and we greet you. In my prayer, in the language that I have been given, it is a reflection of my identity. The Creator has given me a language that is connected to the spirit of understanding of who we are and how we should behave as human beings.
Miigwetch, Dinay Makinitook, Kiizhay Manito!”
In conclusion, Dave offered a Prayer of gratitude in the Anishnabe language.