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Indigenous ceremony at Awen Circle will mark change of seasons

All are welcome to attend and observe the sacred ceremony on March 20 led by Indigenous knowledge keeper, James Carpenter
James Carpenter completes a pipe ceremony at the official opening of the Awen Gathering Circle in Collingwood Harbourview Park. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

A sacred Indigenous ceremony will take place this weekend in Collingwood to welcome the arrival of spring. 

Knowledge keeper and traditional healer, James Carpenter, will lead a spring change of seasons ceremony on Sunday, and all are welcome to attend, observe, and follow along. 

Muckpaloo Ipeelie, a 33-year-old Inuk woman now living in Collingwood, said she wanted to bring a change of seasons ceremony to the Awen Circle as part of her work to connect local Indigenous people and create spaces and events where they can gather together. 

Since the nearest Friendship Centres are in Barrie or Owen Sound, Ipeelie created the Collingwood Indigenous Circle Facebook page to connect the local Indigenous community. 

“We want to be together,” said Ipeelie. “Collectively, as Indigenous people in Collingwood we have felt we wanted an Indigenous presence … through organization and meeting together, we can show each other we are present.” 

Through her work as a member of the Collingwood Unity Collective, Ipeelie has been inspired by the group’s goals to access diversity and include people in acts of coming together. So she wanted the ceremony to also be open for non-Indigenous people. 

“Firstly, people should know it is a ceremony,” said Ipeelie. 

The change of seasons ceremony will include Indigenous customs, and sacred practices. People are welcome to participate by following the lead of James Carpenter. No photos or video should be taken during the ceremony. 

Secondary to the ceremony’s purpose of being an opportunity for Indigenous people to gather and acknowledge Mother Nature according to their customs, there is an educational component to the day for non-Indigenous people. 

“It is an educational opportunity,” said Ipeelie. “But if you’re going to ask for Indigenous knowledge, there’s a customary way to do that … Indigenous knowledge is sacred.” 

It is tradition for a person to offer a small gift as a show of respect when they are asking for knowledge to be shared. 

The customs and traditions attached to asking and receiving knowledge is part of the knowledge-sharing process, said Ipeelie.

Gifts can be from the four medicines: sweetgrass, sage, cedar, or tobacco. Alternatively, for a non-Indigenous person requesting knowledge, a gift of tea, coffee, or jam is also acceptable. 

“It’s a small gesture to say I’m coming to you in respect and thank you so much for your Indigenous knowledge,” explained Ipeelie. “It’s about bringing the customs … and customs are part of the knowledge.”

She said a gift is also a show of effort to indicate a person has taken the time to learn about Indigenous ways and is asking for something sacred with due respect. 

The change of seasons ceremony will be the first in-person gathering since Ipeelie started the Collingwood Indigenous Circle, and one of the few in-person gatherings to take place in town since the start of the pandemic. 

In a post on the Indigenous Circle Facebook page, Ipeelie acknowledged the hardship of the past two years, including grief at not being able to gather. 

“Throughout it all, remembering to acknowledge Mother Nature keeps us grounded and for Indigenous people, she connects us,” said Ipeelie in her post. “For everyone, taking a deep breath outdoors always seems to put things into perspective. It is time to acknowledge Mother Nature together.”

The change of seasons ceremony takes place March 20 at the Awen Gathering Circle at 2 p.m. Find more on the event online here.

This event was created from the efforts of the Collingwood Indigenous Circle group and from the Unity Collective. Organizers of this event are: Tanya Mazza (Town of Collingwood), Dean Collver (Unity Collective), Muckpaloo Ipeelie (Collingwood Indigenous Circle) and James Carpenter (Indigenous knowledge keeper and sharer).

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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