The four seasons will be welcomed once again this year with a gathering and celebration of Indigenous culture at the Awen Circle in Collingwood.
This Tuesday, March 21, there will be a change of seasons ceremony and gathering starting at 4:30 p.m. with local resident and Métis woman Jennifer McFarlane, whose Indigenous name is Thunderbird woman, facilitating the ceremony
Anishinaabe elder and traditional healer Grey Cloud, also known as James Carpenter, will be leading a pipe ceremony during the event, and Muckpaloo Ipeelie, a local Inuk, will share Inuit teachings on Sila (Mother Nature).
Ipeelie was one of the original organizers of the change of seasons events, which began last spring. She started them as a way of creating space and events for the local Indigenous community to come together, meet others with Indigenous heritage, and celebrate in their traditional ways.
This year, she said, will be focused on "being proud of who you are."
Each event will include a raffle that Indigneous people can enter by wearing items like ribbon skirts, shirts, or other items.
The gatherings will also include a sacred fire watched over by a fire keeper.
"Everybody is welcome, and the purpose is to celebrate Mother Nature together and to grow as a community and learn from each other and celebrate our diversities and provide Indigenous cultural teachings to anyone who would like to learn them," said Ipeelie.
The spring event will also feature Indigenous games and some food.
There is a tradition of reciprocity among Indigenous people that should be respected at the change of seasons event, added Ipeelie. The custom involves presenting small gifts to teachers in gratitude for the lesson you learned from them.
"The purpose of the reciprocity is to show that you were present at the gathering, you appreciated that you learned something, and you are grateful that you gained something," she said. "It's customary to offers something small to the person who you learned from."
Gifts of First Nations medicines like tobacco, sweet grass, cedar, or sage are customary for some Indigenous nations. The Inuit style would be to present a gift of jam or coffee.
The change of season event is free and open to all. It will run from about 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on March 21 at the Awen Gathering Circle at Harbourview Park in Collingwood.