On May 31 and June 1, I participated in the Think Indigenous Culture Camp that was sponsored by the Calgary Regional Consortium at Blackfoot Crossing. This will be the first part of the two part series.
I truly feel that I was blessed to be exposed to all the wisdom that was shared from this culture. We started bright and early with a pipe ceremony. I learned that the pipe represents the mind, while the wood represents honesty. Sweetgrass which is woven together in a braid represents the mind, body and spirit. Only certain individuals can find the sweetgrass as its location is usually shown to them in a dream. The elder shared that the earth knows everything. He also shared that we have two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and one mouth for a reason. He shared that many elders will tell a story and stop and “pretend” to not remember what they were speaking about, and they will ask you to remind them. This is a great way to see whether you are truly listening.
Tina Fox did the keynote and stated that classrooms are in nature and that we should strive to get a degree from nature’s university. One can learn parental skills from observing animals. There is a time to nurture and a time to push, let go and to allow the child to fend for themselves. The best way to understand is to actually experience it.
Kerrie Moore led the Grandmother’s Tea Ceremony. She was gifted this privilege to teach this by her grandmother, Ethel Bear. She is the only one in Alberta who is qualified to lead this type of sacred ceremony. She spoke about how the creator has given an individual gift to everything in this earth. She shared a tip for Psoriasis that her Grandmother had shared with her. Twenty minutes before the sun comes up, lay against the early morning dew with bare skin. Mother Earth will meet Father Sky and they will be in total balance which will have great healing properties for the skin. She shared that the most important teaching that women can give their babies is their connection to spirit. Each child has their own unique gift and each is valuable. When people sit in circle, they become far more responsible and accountable. By creating ceremony, it helps us to come down into our spirit and live our day that way.
She spoke about healing and that it has to be done on all 4 dimensions (Spiritual, Emotional, Cognitive and Physical) to bring about change. Spirituality is something that cannot be defined because when it is defined, it becomes confined. Loosely translated, spirituality is when we are connected to everything. We have love, hope and purpose. It is an individual process of defining who we are and how we connect. No one person is a guru on this.
For smudging, sweetgrass represents male energy while sage represents female energy. The U of C Native Centre holds tea ceremonies once/month (except for July and August). To sign up for their newsletter to receive updates as to when the ceremony will be scheduled, please visit: https://go.ucalgary.ca/bear-tracks-newsletter-sign-up.html
This was then followed by a Women’s Fancy Shawl Dance (which looks like butterflies floating in the sky), Women’s Jingle Dance which is believed to hold much healing and finally the Men’s Grass Dance which was how prairie grass was trampled down before placing tipis upon it.
Even though the rain came pouring down, it could not dampen our spirits to sleep inside a tipi. We took in a lot of culture and ceremony in one day. It was truly an honour to be able to participate in this event.