Tomorrow, many Nations will gather in Collingwood to mark the change in seasons with a ceremony on common ground.
Muckpaloo Ipeelie, a Collingwood resident and Inuk person, has worked with other organizers to plan the change of seasons ceremony, the second of its kind this year, at the Awen Gathering Circle.
“Many Indigenous community members originate from far away places, so it is important for us to be able to be Indigenous where we live, to support each other here,” said Ipeelie.
She started the Collingwood Indigenous Circle as a way to connect local Indigenous people through community events and ceremonies. The circle is expanding, as it was meant to.
“As we continue to create these events, we as community members learn more about our cultures, and make meaningful connections with elders,” she said. “We continue to breathe life into our cultures by sharing and learning.”
The Change of Seasons event includes a pipe ceremony with pipe carrier Painted Sky and a teaching by Indigenous Health and Wellness Coach Heather McIntyre. There will also be an Indigenous market.
Emily Jarrett Sheerin is one of several organizers of the June 21 event, and joined the Collingwood Indigenous Circle after the spring change of seasons event. She was born in Collingwood and is an Ojibwe/Anishinaabe woman from Nippisong First Nation, Mukwa dodem (Bear Clan).
“The first change of seasons ceremony will always be held close to my heart because I got to connect with amazing Indigenous people and allies,” said Sheerin. “I learned more about my culture and made lasting friendships.”
She is honoured to be one of the organizers for the upcoming event.
“To pass and keep my culture and traditions alive feels very right,” said Sheerin.
She will also be sharing her art as a vendor at the event.
“I can’t wait to see what else the Collingwood Indigenous Circle will do,” she said. “Feeling like you are the only Indigenous little girl growing up in a small town is scary, a circle of Indigenous people and allies in Collingwood is something I’ve always longed for.”
Also among the organizers, McIntyre has been reclaiming her culture and her roots as part of the Aajiijack Crane Clan and Waazhaashik (Muscrat Clan) on her grandfather’s side. She has created the current Cultural Awareness Wiijinokiiwag and works to deliver that program through the Mamaway Wiidokdaadwin, which provides health care that honours Indigenous wellness to Simcoe County and Muskoka residents.
She will be delivering a teaching on the change of seasons at the Awen Gathering Circle tomorrow as part of the event.
“I especially like this time of year as I watch all of Creator’s sweetness come to life, bloom, and grow,” said McIntyre.
She said she will be speaking about this opportunity of growth that all people can lean into, and she will talk about learning how to accept and honour where we are in the moment.
“I will also be speaking to the importance these types of diverse gatherings and the powerful medicine it holds for us, and how sometimes when we are looking through a narrow lens, we forget that there is goodness in the stretching,” said McIntyre. “We all have a role to play in a community of unity. There is no one way and it is absolutely essential to have representation of all voices when creating new paths.”
As the creator of the Collingwood Indigenous Circle, Ipeelie shares this view of the importance of diversity at events.
“There are several Nations here, and so because of this we are creating a climate of diversity and inclusion by accepting the several ways to do ceremony,” she said. “If we remember why we are here, then we can reach our goal, which is being there for each other as we navigate two worlds. The common ground that units us all no matter which Nation we come from is nature.”
June 21, 2022 is Indigenous People’s Day, in addition to being the summer solstice. The change of seasons gathering will run from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Awen Gathering Circle. All are welcome.
For more about the event and those involved, visit the Collingwood Indigenous Circle Website here.