A feast and change of seasons ceremony at Awen Gathering Circle brought a reminder to be thankful for the gifts each season brings, and to practise a good life.
For the third time this year, the change of season was celebrated with an Indigenous ceremony and gathering, open to the general public, at Harbourview Park. To welcome the arrival of autumn and celebrate the bounty of summer, the Sept. 22 event also included a sharing table and Indigenous games.
Anishinaabe elder Myiingan Minonaakwhe of the Eagle Clan led the ceremony and delivered a teaching that has been passed through generations.
Minonaakwhe, whose English name is Jeff Monague, told of a time Creator sent a powerful spirit to find people who were still following the traditions of ceremony and remind those who were not to “pick up the pipe again.”
“We remember where we came from and the good life we have together,” said Minonaakwhe. “The pipe is to help people.”
The pipe is an important part of the ceremony and culture for Anishinaabek. Minonaakwhe said it is not an object but a living thing.
“When you are given a pipe, your life changes because you are a teacher and you help carry out ceremony when you are asked … this is not my pipe, the pipe belongs to the people,” he said. “I was born into it, the pipe was called to me before I was born.”
There is no such thing as a peace pipe. The term came from people who would have seen the pipe only during times of peacemaking.
There are community pipes, passed from carrier to carrier.
The community pipe belonging Minonaakwhe’s community on Christian Island was with them during the War of 1812 and through displacements. It was stolen and gone for many years.
“It was always calling to us,” he said.
One day, in the 1990s, a museum curator called him to say they had something that belonged to his community. The pipe returned, and there have been three community pipe carriers since then.
Following the ceremony, Jillian Morris, Kanien’kehaka of the Turtle Clan, recited two poems.
Jennifer Mcfarlane, Metis, led Indigenous games.
Muckpaloo Ipeelie, an Inuk woman living in The Blue Mountains, has been one of the lead organizers of the change of seasons events that began in the spring. She began them, in part, to connect Indigenous people who are living in the area, and also as a way to regain cultural identity, which has been systematically oppressed.
"Culture is part of self-identity and being grounded in our culture helps us be healthy as a whole person ... not just physically and mentally but spiritually and emotionally, and the spiritual and emotional part is tied to culture," said Ipeelie.
The change of seasons event was sponsored by the Town of Collingwood. To find out more about upcoming events, visit the Collingwood Indigenous Circle website.
There are several events planned in Collingwood and The Blue Mountains to mark National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, including:
- Hope and Healing Canada Installation, Collingwood Museum
- Created by Tracey-Mae Chambers, Hope and Healing explores art connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples while also addressing the decolonization of public spaces.
- Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know StoryWalk, Train Trail
- Follow the Train Trail beginning at the Collingwood Museum and enjoy this beautiful story of the changing of the seasons. Written by Brittany Luby and illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley.
- Orange Ribbon Installation, Awen’ Gathering Place
- Ribbons and Every Child Matters buttons designed by IndigenARTSY along with other resources in orange envelopes, available while supplies last at the Museum, 45 St. Paul St., Collingwood Public Library, 55 Ste. Marie St. and Town Hall, 97 Hurontario St. beginning Monday, Sept. 12.
- Truth & Reconciliation Healing Circle, Awen’ Gathering Place
- On Sept. 26 at 2 p.m., join Heather McIntyre a local Anishinaabe woman who is a Life & Wellness Coach at the Awen’ Gathering Place for an educational and traditional Indigenous Healing Circle, sponsored by the Collingwood Public Library.
- Circle of Hope, Collingwood Public Library
- The Collingwood Public Library is hosting a virtual program, Circle of Hope. To learn more and register, visit this website. In addition, explore the library’s collection of Indigenous authors on display, throughout September.
- Every Child Matters Flag Raising, Community Flagpole, Collingwood Public Library
- The community is invited to join in the raising of the Every Child Matters Flag on Sept. 29 at 4 p.m. The Collingwood Clock Tower will be illuminated orange and flags will be lowered to half-mast in observance of National Day for Truth & Reconciliation.
- Indigenous Healing Circle and Building Relationships, Awen’ Gathering Place
- On Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30, Inuk Muckpaloo Ipeelie has organized a gathering to be held at the Awen’ Gathering Place specifically for members of the Indigenous community. This will include a sacred fire that will begin at 5:30 p.m. with Wah’chek and Elder James Kewaquom, who will host a healing circle.
- At 6:45 p.m., the non-Indigenous community is encouraged to join in unity and listen to poetry from Jillian Morris who is Kanien’kehá:k, followed by Muckpaloo Ipeelie, who will share her stories and experiences as an Inuk woman, continuing to encourage others to join the journey of reconciliation. The public portion of this ceremony will finish with sending flowers into the water as a community
- Bridging Worldviews: Thinking Indigenous at the L.E. Shore Memorial Library in Thornbury
- Delivered by Sabre Pictou Lee on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.
- Truth and Reconciliation gatherings at L.E. Shore Memorial Library in Thornbury
- Gatherings hosted by Heather McIntyre at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.