Zuguswediwin National Elders Gathering on Nationhood and Climate Change

Registration is now open.  Limited seating – first come, first serve! Please email turtlelodge@mts.net to register.  Cost: Registration is by donation.

Why is the Zuguswediwin National Elders Gathering being called?

On July 19-22, 2018, invited Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers will gather at the Turtle Lodge for 4 days of knowledge sharing at the Zuguswediwin National Elders Gathering on Nationhood and Climate Change, following traditional protocols.  This gathering represents our 13th Annual Igniting the Fire Gathering.
Anishinabe Elder Dave Courchene received a dream this year of the people gathering around a yellow blanket, with Grandmothers coming forward to be the first to sign and bring forward into ceremony a Declaration of Relationship and Commitment to Spirit on behalf of the people.  Elders and others from other parts of Turtle Island have also had dreams about the Zuguswediwin National Elders Gathering, which many Elders believe represents a significant spiritual step forward for the Original Peoples. The Elders will be developing a Declaration at the gathering.
Zuguswediwin means “Lifting the Sacred Pipe” in the Anishinabe language.  The Pipe is a sacred symbol of our relationship with the Great Spirit, Mother Earth and the spirit in the four directions.

24 Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers from across Turtle Island will work together to develop the Declaration of Relationship, as they ponder questions that include:

  • What is your understanding of nationhood?
  • How can our nationhood be implemented in our current reality, going beyond colonization?
  • How do we proclaim and live our right to be the true leaders of our homeland?
  • What are the most important things we need to teach our children?
  • How do we transfer our knowledge to the youth to prepare them to deal with issues such as climate change?
  • How do we work together as a People to support our natural laws and values of survival?
  • How do we engage with those who have arrived on our homeland to support our vision for Mino pi mati si win (a good and peaceful life)?
  • How do we support the development of an Indigenous-led framework to learn more about our ways to move forward on issues such as implementing our nationhood and supporting our survival in face of issues such as climate change?
5 Youth will also be invited to speak, sharing their concerns and their perspectives to support working with the Knowledge Keepers on these questions.

Led by a dream, this gathering builds upon the Onjisay Aki Climate Calls to Action, which were created at the Onjisay Aki International Climate Summit held at the Turtle Lodge in June 2017.  Click here.

Speakers and Ceremonial Leaders

Traditional Knowledge Keepers 

  • Elder Chair – Dave Courchene, Sagkeeng First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Stephen Augustine, Hereditary Chief on the Mi’Kmaq Grand Council
  • Darrell Bob, Chief of the Xaxli’p Community (St’at’imc Nation)
  • Harry Bone, Keeseekoowenin First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Burma Bushie, Hollow Water First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Jeff Desmoulin, Pic Mobert First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Bonnie Goodchild, Pic River First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • AJ Felix, Sturgeon Lake First Nation (Cree Nation)
  • Patricia Felix, Sturgeon Lake First Nation (Cree Nation)
  • Martina Fisher, Bloodvein First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Chris Harper, Island Lake First Nation (Oji-Cree)
  • Hazel Harper, Island Lake First Nation (Oji-Cree)
  • Morris Little Wolf, Blackfoot (Piikani) Nation
  • Alvin Manitopyes, Muskowekwan First Nation (Plains Cree and Anishnawbe Nations)
  • Mary Maytwayashing, Lake Manitoba First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Jane Meader, Membertou First Nation in Unama’ki (Cape Breton), NS, Mi’kmaw Nation
  • Vern McWatch, Pic Mobert First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Esther Michano, Pic River First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Tony Michano, Pic River First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Steven Newcomb, Shawnee, Lenape Scholar and Author, Co-Founder/Director of Indigenous Law Institute
  • Florence Paynter, Sandy Bay First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Gordon Walker, Norway House Cree Nation
  • Veronica Waboose, Chief of Long Lac First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Allan White, Whitefish Bay First Nation (Anishinabe Nation)
  • Katherine Whitecloud, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation
  • Barney Williams,  Tlaoquiaht First Nation
  • Inka Antaurko, Inka Spiritual Leader from Peru
Youth Speakers
  • Erica Marie Daniels, Filmmaker, Peguis Cree Nation
  • Roy Ettawacappo, Norway House Cree Nation
  • Rosalie LaBillois, Eel River Bar Mi’gmaq First Nation, AFN Youth Council
  • Shawna Bluestar Newcomb, Shawnee and Lenape Nations
  • David Courchene III, Sagkeeng and Pic River First Nations
  • Cody Courchene, Sagkeeng First Nation

When and where is the Zuguswediwin National Elders Gathering happening?

Gathering Dates:  July 19 to 22, 2018. The gathering will take place at the Turtle Lodge in Sagkeeng First Nation for the first three days, followed by one day at the sacred site of Manitou Api (“Where the Creator Sat”). Built in 2002 based on a vision received, the Turtle Lodge seeks to promote Indigenous knowledge, connection to the Earth, positive identity, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency through traditional teachings and ceremonies. Directions to Turtle Lodge Located a 1 1/2 hour drive from Turtle Lodge, within Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park at Bannock Point, Manitou Api is one of the most ancient and significant sacred sites for the Original People of Turtle Island (North America). The site hosts ancient petroforms and has hosted ceremonies for thousands and thousands of years. Located in the geographical centre of the continent, Manitou Api can also be seen as a central location for all.  For more information on the Manitou Api sacred site, click hereDirections to Manito Api

Planning Your Trip

The Turtle Lodge is located a 1 ½ hour drive north of Winnipeg airport.  We encourage attendees to rent a car or share a ride with others attending.  We have arranged a Turtle Lodge Conference Rate at the South Beach Casino Hotel (30 minute drive) and at the Papertown Motor Inn, located a 15 minute drive from the Turtle Lodge.  Please quote the “Turtle Lodge Block” when making your reservation.

Travel, directions and accommodation information is here.

There will be a coach reserved for the Elders, departing for Manitou Api after the morning ceremonies at Turtle Lodge on July 22.  Space is limited so reserve a spot now by emailing turtlelodge@mts.net.


By registration.

Limited seating is available. Please email turtlelodge@mts.net to register.  We will be accepting people on a first come first serve basis.  We ask everyone to remain seated, being quiet and respectful of all the speakers during the gathering, as the Knowledge Keepers have come a long ways to be able to share with us.

In lieu of a registration fee, we are asking each attendee to make a monetary donation of your choice, to help support your meals and our costs of hosting and bringing in the Elders. You can either bring your donation to the gathering or donate online.

Click here to make a donation.

What else do I bring?

In addition to your donation to attend the gathering, we are asking each participant to bring a prepared dish to share for the Potluck Feast at Manitou Api the last day, as well as a gift that will be given to another participant in the Traditional Giveaway, also taking place on the last day.  Gifts need not be new; in a Traditional Giveaway, gifts that you own and value are considered special.

Ceremonial Protocols

Ceremonial protocols will be followed.  For more information, please click here.

Volunteers Welcome

To sign up to be one of our gathering volunteers, please email our volunteer coordinator, Sabina Ijaz, at turtlelodge@mts.net. We have a number of volunteer positions available:  Scabewis – firekeepers, water, refreshments, sales, registration table, drivers, note-takers, photographers.   Acknowledgements This gathering was funded in part by the Government of Canada and Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism. Miigwech for the support!  
Welcome back to the Turtle Lodge!
If you have trouble signing in, please send an email to turtlelodge@mts.net.