From January 18 to 20, Giigewigamig First Nation Health Authority, Turtle Lodge and Nanaandawewigamig (FNHSSM: First Nation Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba) partnered to host a youth gathering on “Games, Songs and Medicines That Keep us Healthy”. Youth and elders from the four Giigewigamig communities of Bloodvein, Hollow Water, Black River & Sagkeeng First Nations had a fun and educational weekend! Each morning began with a Pipe Ceremony & Water Ceremony conducted by community Elders, while Coco Ray Stevenson led and taught youth ceremonial songs on the drum. Norbert Mercredi from Grand Rapids shared Indigenous games and the role they play in keeping us healthy.
Carl McCorrister from Peguis First Nation shared his work in growing food and medicines, and reminded us about the importance of trade among our nations. Youth made medicine pouches and practised ceremonial songs, while the Elders engaged in discussions about reintroducing natural medicines into the communities. Leon Simard from Manigotagan shared his work with planting gardens and food security and how these can prevent diabetes and its complications. Troy Fontaine prepared the Four Directions Medicine and young children were given first opportunity to try the medicine while getting brushed down by the Grandmothers using the eagle fans, in a beautiful healing ceremony. Troy shared teachings on how to make the medicine and everyone was able to take some home. Youth planted Thunder Tobacco seedlings to take and grow in their own communities and a song was sung for the seedlings.
The four-day event was concluded with a feast and traditional giveaway, with each person giving and receiving a gift. The Giigewigamig Elders Council was so inspired by the enthusiasm of the youth who want to learn Minopimatiziwin – Anishinabe for a good and peaceful way of life – that it plans on hosting more youth-focused gatherings, with the next one coming in March!
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