Spring is a wonderful experience. The whole world comes alive after winter. It fills up with color and the smell of greenery. How miraculous that the world that was so dull and cold only a few days ago, has sprung to life once again. Beneath the cold and frozen ground, the plants and trees were preparing for rebirth. Spring brings with it hope and rejuvenation in our own lives as well. Appreciate this time to renew your excitement and zest for life that forever lives inside.
Faith is trusting in the Good, Fear is putting your trust in the Bad!
THE MAPLE SUGAR PROJECT
This year, a number of our residents participated in the “Maple Sugar Project”. This project consisted of taping the maple trees, harvesting the maple water, boiling the syrup and finally, after all these efforts, tasting and enjoying the syrup and taffy. According to participants, the experience of following all these steps was very rewarding. Despite the frigid weather, they had great pleasure participating in this project. Mother Nature rewarded their efforts,
Interview with a Resident
Mark is of the Iroquois Confederation, from the Oneida Nation west of London, Ontario. He is of the Wolf Clan. Born in a highly dysfunctional family where many issues, including alcohol, were cause of daily struggles and many hardships, he started drinking himself when he was just a young child under 10 years of age. Constantly getting himself in trouble, he ended up in a psychiatric hospital from which he ran away as often as he could, where he was disrespectful toward staff, was fooling around all the time and from where he got involved in illegal activities such as breaking and entering. From the psychiatric hospital, he was sent to a youth detention home where he continued his bad behavior. From there, he was sent to Sprucedale Training School. From Sprucedale, he was sent to a group home and went AWOL after 4 days. He ended up shooting someone and at the early age of 16 he received a life sentence.
When he was a young man living in his community, he had a friend. This young woman started to write to him when he was incarcerated and eventually started to visit him. In 1993 when he was in his early 20’s they started a relationship and married in 1995. After the birth of his first are from him, things started to click for him. He realized that he wanted to get out and to start living a normal life with the people he cared about. A second son was born in 1997 followed by a daughter in 1998, the same year he received day parole. After a stay at Portsmouth Halfway House, he returned to his community with his wife. She started school and he studied culinary management. He always found work, followed ceremonies and did the Sundance for 2 years. Life was good. For 13 years he was out on full parole,
Then, life took a bad turn. He was having a hard time dealing with daily stress and the death of a loved one. He became complacent and his full parole was revoked in 2013.
He spent two years in Frontenac. He had heard about Waseskun through his ALO de él, from other inmates and by reading parmphlets and other documentation. Deciding that he and his family could benefit from his journey at Waseskun, he arrived in April of 2015. He still thought that he knew everything but he had so much to learn. It took a while for him to understand who he was, to hurmble himself and to forgive himself for the things he had done. The hardest thing for him has been to share his feelings from him and to get rid of his jailhouse mentality from him.
One of the best things that Waseskun has to offer are the Elders, the fasts and the ceremonies that reconnect the men with their roots. He feels extremely lucky that his family has stuck by him through all of this. He is so proud of them. He is going back up for parole in the summer of 2016. Looking forward to going out and being with his loved ones, he believes he is on the right road. He is glad to have come to Waseskun and of the decision he made.
The message he would like to leave with his Brothers from him is to keep an open mind, work on yourself and your own healing. Write the chapters of your own life. Healing is a lifelong journey.
Sense of identity core to healing from trauma in prison populations.
..copied from Windspeaker article, written by Shari Narine www.ammsa.com
Nicholas, who heads the close-knit team with Mayo and Gabriel. Having culturally-relevant programming to deal with trauma is “extremely important” for many Indigenous inmates, who lack a sense of identity, said Travis Gabriel, a Mohawk helper at Waseskun Healing Center.
“Not knowing, not having a belief system .. gave them that Tearless, hopeless feeling, no direction. It speaks to identity all the way. You have to know who you are in order to know who you want to be, what you ‘ go become. “
But the role played by the nine healing lodges associated with Corrections Services Canada is limited. The alternative form of incarceration is available only to minimum-security male inmates, and minimum and medium security females.
A report tabled in the House of Commons Thursday by Howard Sapers, correctional investigator of Canada, indicated that Aboriginal inmates are more likely to be classified as maximum security.
Waseskun Healing Center is the only lodge east of Manitoba associated with Corrections Services Canada. It is one of five lodges that operate under Section 81 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. CSC directly operates the other four lodges.
Offenders must stay at Waseskun Healing Center, which accepts only men, for a minimum of six months.
“For some at six months, we’re only just scratching the surface,” said Gabriel. “If we really look at understanding a life-time of pain or abuse or any other kind of issue … it takes quite an amount of time to do that.”
Gabriel, who has been at Waseskun for five years, says the provincial system regularly implements a six-month stay and “we’ve had quite a few of our people who have come back into the system. Only to realize, I’ve only just scratched the surface. I should have gone deeper. I should have made a little stronger effort to correct things because when I went home, I wasn’t ready. ”
Waseskun guides the men in examining themselves, at why it is they hurt, and why it is they hurt others.
“We look at the person as a whole, at the abuses that they had in their life and how it’s shaped them to be who they are,” said Glenda Mayo, a helper.
Nicholas, who heads the close-knit team with Mayo and Gabriel.
Not all inmates are ready or willing to take that painful, intense journey.
Waseskun Elders visit about 20 correctional facilities in Ontario and Quebec to tell the men about the healing center and to ask them to consider it as an alternative form of incarceration, While they visit the correctional facilities, they also hold healing circles, perform ceremonies, and work with inmates one-on-one. Just as importantly, says Mayo, “we plant taking a healing path.
Inmates need to want to take that step to heal. Often that means first going through a stage of denial before hitting rock bottom and seeking healing. Inmates are allowed to stay at Waseskun as long as they need to.
Seed of change “and get the inmates thinking about” We encourage them to work to the point that they have enough of their own medicine that when they walk out the gate they will continue this on, “said May.
Eiders also work with inmates on a reintegration plan. Often inmates are going to metropolitan areas, where cultural and spiritual guidance is difficult to find, or they are returning to their home community, which is unhealthy. Such situations are challenging to the recently released men, says Mayo.
“We are very fortunate that we have ancestors that have left us very, very rich teachings, and ceremonies. We have everything that we need to help the ones that are seeking healing,” said Nicholas. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, you just have to be a human being. It’s hoped that something exists that can help change this whole story, at least part of it. When we sit down and when we walk with the fellows who make that decision to come to us, they soon learn that we walk with medicine, that we have an extremely high respect for medicine, the teachings that we are continuously receiving and sharing and it never runs out.
” Waseskun Healing Center began as a halfway house in Montreal 27 years ago. Since 1999, it has served as a Section 81 Corrections Services Canada healing lodge, providing 34 beds for men in minimum security and as a community residential facility for offenders who are on some form of conditional release to the community,
In the 2014-15 Annual Report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator, Sapers noted that Aboriginal inmates spend more time in segregation and serve more of their sentence behind bars compared to non-Aboriginal inmates. Between 2005 and 2015, the Indigenous inmate population grew by 50 per cent compared to an overall offender growth.
rate of 10 per cent. First Nations, Inuit and Métis inmates now represent just over 25 per cent of the in-custody population, despite comprising just 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population. Indigenous women, the fastest growing sub-population in federal custody, now comprise 37 per cent of all women serving a sentence of over two years, said Sapers.
We would like to give a warm welcome to our new Inuit Elder and Helper Elisabeth Alikashuak. Waseskun prides itself with the quality of their employees as they continue to grow. Her arrival of her will provide our residents with the culturally relevant programming and guidance that they need for their healing journey.
Welcome aboard Elisabeth.
Key to achieving greater levels of successful reintegration is a resident’s access to higher levels of education. Such opportunities can serve as a healer by enhancing self-confidence, the sense of accomplishment and by providing access to better employment. Working in collaboration with the Kahnawake Learning Centen many of our residents have taken advantage of this resource. We congratulate them for their hard work and achievements.
Aword from the Teacher
“All the students have worked tremendously hard and have earned their certificates. They continue to advance their education and i, as their teacher, i am very proud of their continued success. Well done everyone.”
WAHTA OHSES -MAPLE SYRUP
(A Mohawk story)
Many years ago, when human beings were new in the eastern part of Turtie Island, they barely survived the long winters for their bodies and spirits were weakened by the cold, darkness and food shortage. Although they worked hard to gather and preserve food for the winter months, it was not always enough to keep them well and strong. The Creator saw their suffering so he decided to ask the tree nation if there was something that could be done to restore their happiness and well being. The leader of the trees, the maple, offered to give its blood to the people so they may be restored to good health. So it was, that at the end of the winter months the sap flowed freely from the maple trees. The sap was dark and sweet, a syrup which the people drank after putting basswood tubes into the trees so the precious fluid went into their pots almost without effort.
Glad that the people were once again strong and happy, the Creator left to attend his other duties by him in other worlds.
Some time passed before the Creator was able to return to this world. It was once again the end of winter with snow still on the ground. He went to one of the villages only to find it empty, the longhouses cold with only ashes in the fire pits. He saw that there were tracks leading into the nearby woods. He followed the tracks and he came upon a maple bush and there, sprawled on the ground were the people, with wooden tubes connecting the maples to their mouths. They were drinking the syrup from the trees until they could no longer stand. Even their dogs were laying on the ground, their paws raised to the sky. The Creator saw that the people were scruffy and the children uncared for. Very upset, he woke them from their slumber and lecided that he would change the way in which the syrup was to be taken from the trees. No longer would it flow brown and thick. The people would have to make offerings to the maples, tap its sap, and then work to make it into syrup and then sugar. By doing so they would come to better appreciate this wonderful gift he had given to them.
Since that time the Mohawk watch the maples and when they notice the sap is flowing during the last weeks of winter they gather at the longhouse to celebrate this great gift which renews their bodies and lifts their spirits. In Mohawk, maple sap / syrup is called wahta ohses. The people are very pleased when this happens because they know that spring is returning to the earth and the Sun is shining brighter and bringing in warmer days.
attend his other duties by him in other worlds. Some time passed before the Creator was able to return to this world. It was once again the end of winter with snow still on the ground. He went to one of the villages only to find it empty, the longhouses cold with only ashes in the fire pits. He saw that there were tracks leading into the nearby woods. He followed the tracks and he came upon a maple bush and there, sprawled on the ground were the people, with wooden tubes connecting the maples to their mouths. They were drinking the syrup from the trees until they could no longer stand. Even their dogs were laying on the ground, their paws raised to the sky. The Creator saw that the people were scruffy and the children uncared for. Very upset, he woke em from their slumber and lecided that he would change the way in which the syrup was to be taken from the trees. No longer would it flow brown and thick. The people would have to make offerings to the maples, tap its sap, and then work to make it into syrup and then sugar. By doing so they would come to better appreciate this wonderful gift he had given to them. Since that time the Mohawk watch the maples and when they notice the sap is flowing during the last weeks of winter they gather at the longhouse to celebrate this great gift which renews their bodies and lifts their spirits. In Mohawk, maple sap / syrup is called wahta ohses. The people are very pleased when this happens because they know that spring is returning to the earth and the Sun is shining brighter and bringing in warmer days.
… by Lorraine Hughes
Growing your own food and tending a garden is a great way to awaken your creative energies and connect with the healing energies of mother Earth. When it is done without using pesticides its good for our Mother Earth and all her inhabitants of it. As well as growing veggies it’s good to plant a few species of plants that are native to your area which encourage the bees and butterflies to visit your garden. You want them to visit and pollinate your plants so they will bear fruit.
My father always said if you want a good garden you have to start at the root; that means start with good strong soil (composted) and planting good seed. I try to gather organic or heirloom seeds. You can either buy these seeds online or attend a seed exchange. Maybe you still have to pay for them but its worth the money as once you get your own garden going you can learn to save your own seeds. Organic and heirloom seeds are better for the environment, and not genetically modified.
When we plant seed, look after the soil, and look after the garden which needs a caring nurturing hand we are connecting with the electromagnetic energy of the Earth which is very healing and grounding. Sometimes after an hour of weeding I sit in the middle of my garden and it is at those times I feel very connected to The Creator and all that surrounds me, the birds, butterflies, bees and frogs all moving in one enormous symphony of life. I have found this to be healing for very often my early childhood trauma has left me feeling disconnected and alone from life. I also have found I get great “ideas” for my artistic work when working at gardening.
When we put our hands into the soil it is very grounding and we can let go of hard to handle feelings, feeling more centered and calm, All of these beneficial results are in addition to the production of nutritious food we share with family, friends and community, including the animal community.
One summer I was going out to my little patch and noticed somebody had chewed a hole in my fence; I have a plastic fence to keep the deer and such out. One evening at dusk a rabbit ran out of the hole she had made in the fence, I looked in from outside the fence and saw little baby rabbits hiding under the squash leaves. The mother rabbit hid her babies in my enclosure, the bunnies never ate any of my garden; she kept her babies safe under the squash leaves at night!
By growing a garden I did something good for myself on so many levels and by growing it without poisons and according to the knowledge handed down by my family in co-creation with nature I was doing something good for the animals who lived nearby!
The Bald Eagie- Renewed life
Eagle’s medicine includes swiftness, strength, courage, wisdom, keen sight, illumination of Spirit, healing, creation, knowledge of magic, ability to see hidden spiritual truths, rising above the material to see the spiritual, the ability to see the big picture, connection to spirit guides, teachers and higher truths, great power and balance, dignity with grace, intuitive and creative spirit, respect for boundaries, grace achieved through knowledge and hard work.
Chief over all winged creatures, the eagle conveys the messages and the powers of the Spirit, being man’s connection to the divine because it flies higher than any other bird bringing with him a message of renewed life. If a person has been going through hard times, eagle not only signals a new beginning but provides the person with stamina and resilience to overcome the difficulties. If eagle has appeared, he bestows freedom and the ability to look ahead.
Eagle is also the symbol of truth and honesty. Summon the eagle when you prepare for new challenges and change. Eagle people are visionaries willing to push the limits of self discovery and personal freedom. Born leaders, they may become impatient with others who cannot fly as high or as fast as they can. Although they tend to retreat to the skies, others will gravitate to them naturally.
When Eagle appears to you it means that you will be inspired to reach higher limits and to become more than you think you are capable of. Eagle will ask you to be courageous and to stretch your limits. He will bring to you courage and a desire to grow. To dream of a flying eagle or one who is perched F high signifies good fortune or victory coming your way. Now is the time for you to take full responsibility for your life and to be prepared for instant destiny. As your spiritual awareness increases, the positive and negative ramifications will s become more immediate and have greater force.
“Everyone has to find the right path. You can’t see it so it’s hard to find. No one can show you. Each person has to find the path by himself.”
Charlie Knight UTE First Nations Tribe
There are certain times in our lives when a voice whispers to us. The voice doesn’t always talk. Usually, we hear it best when we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Inside every person is the knowledge that a supreme being exists. Sometimes, restlessness occurs and it makes a person feel that they need to be doing something or need to be going somewhere or maybe just to start wondering about who they are. Often, they feel lost when that happens. Inside of everyone is the natural, built in desire to walk the Red Road or to seek a relationship with the Creator. No one can force us to make this journey. We must make this journey because we want to. This journey is not on the outside. The path is inside ourselves. It is inside that we must begin our search.
Oh Great Spirit, help me this day to look within myself. If trouble arises, let me realize that it’s not what is going on but how I am looking at what is going on. Give me Your power this day to conduct myself according to Your way of life.
PROTECTING MOTHER EARTH
The preservation of our planet is an important issue for mankind. Here are some tips to help us preserve and protect Mother Earth.
• If you’re a home gardener, make sure fertilizer is worked deep into the soil – don’t hose it off into the water system. Phosphates (a key ingredient) cause lake and river algae to proliferate wildly.
• Don’t use colored facial tissues, paper towels or toilet paper. The paper dissolves properly in water, but the dye lingers on.
Oh Great Spirit who made all races, look kindly upon the whole human family and take away the arrogance and hatred which separates us from our Brothers!
Cherokee Prayer Oh Great Spirit who made all races, look kindly upon the whole human family and take away the arrogance and hatred which separates us from our Brothers!