A few weeks ago, Jackie Fletcher, Elder Youth Coordinator of the Missanabie Cree First Nation, shared the plans for the group’s celebration and acknowledgement of the winter solstice with SaultOnline.com, highlighting the cultural significance of the natural phenomenon.
In total, 24 people attended and it was a very successful event. “Although the highway and roads were horrific the night before as a result of a major storm,” Jackie said, “the travel days were sunny and clear, a sign that the Creator was with the community from beginning to end.”
The winter event, which took place at the Wawa Motor Inn, the closest accommodations to traditional Missanabie Cree territory, was an amazing opportunity celebrate a cultural event with the youth in the community, learning how their ancestors planned their lives around the celestial teaching and natural law. Community members who participated really came together and discussed how the solstice, and other traditional celebrations, can be combined with Christianity in order to create something that encompasses community members’ beliefs around the holidays without isolation.
Cultural activities, such as making bannock, crafting, sharing a feast, creating vision boards, and song writing, kept the group busy and connected as they took the time to reflect on this holiday season and the true meaning of solstices and equinoxes to their heritage and self-identification.
Jackie concluded that the event was delightful, and they cannot wait to do it again in order to model and celebrate cultural ways between youth and elder.
The Winter Solstice Celebration was supported by the Choose Life Program, a Nishnawbe Aski Nation pilot program arising out of the child welfare case at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. It is a new resource made available through Jordan’s Principle – Child First Initiative Funding. Gatherings and events, like this one, help to promote outcomes as directed by the Choose Life program that create and better mental health services to prevent suicides and promote emotional, behavioural, and mental well-being within the community.
For more information on Missanabie Cree First Nation, Jordan’s Principle, or how to get in touch with Elder/Youth Coordinator Jackie Fletcher, please visit http://wwww.missanabiecreefn.com.