Billions of people around the world brought in the New Year with prayers for peace, unity, courage, wisdom and healing. Each New Year is a time for opportunity, a time to grasp hold of our future and our destiny. That future will not only depend on our prayers but on what each of us wishes for, and what we are willing to do to grasp the happiness, good health or good fortune we hope for. Happy New Year, and may your prayers leave your lips and reach the ears of the Creator.
“As the old year leaves us and as we welcome a new one, we leave in the hands of our Creator the events of the past and ask for direction and guidance in the new one. May He bless us with grace, tranquility, courage and wisdom! “
The Ten Native Commandments
Treat the Earth and all who dwell upon it with respect. Remain close to the Great Spirit. Show great respect for your fellow beings. Work together for the benefit of all Mankind. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed. Do what you know to be right. Look after the well-being of mind and body. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good. Be truthful and honest at all times. Take full responsibility for your actions.
Interview with a Resident
Bobby is a 35 year old Inuit from Northern Quebec. Since 2005, he has been in and out of the justice system. Prior to that, he had clear goals and a good outlook on life but personal problems changed all that. In 2001, he had found a loving partner, had a good job and started a family. The father of 5 children, he was able to support them and to provide for everyone. There was money in the bank, things were going well and he believed he had found happiness.
He decided to use some of that extra money to buy alcohol, confident that he had control over it. However, it was not so. He started to own everything, to make all the decisions and everything had to go his way. He was in charge! Believing that it was OK if nobody found out, he started cheating on his wife. Although he sincerely loved her, the guilt he felt and the anger he had toward himself caused him to redirect that anger towards her. The alcohol changed him into a totally different person. Once he started drinking, he could not stop.
From 2009 to 2012, he was in and out of jail. It was then that he realized that he needed help. He met with psychologists and social workers, however, short term treatments are not very helpful. He did not own his problems and placed the blame on the justice system, his community and on everyone but himself. At one point, fearful of losing his family he was able to return to them. The cycle started all over again but was even worse. In 2012, the relationship ended for good as he was exiled from his community. The downward spiral continued, a display of relapses, breaches of conditions and jail terms.
One time, while he was at St. Jerome, there was a convention of treatment centers available for the residents to consult with. He remembers clearly seeing the Waseskun posters and one of the Helpers, Dennis, sitting there. Although his parole officer encouraged him to go to a different facility because of the waiting list at Waseskun, he was drawn to it and insisted on going there even if the wait would be longer. Today, he is happy with the choice he made. He feels that he is a different man, much of the changes happening on the inside. He particularly appreciates the Warrior program for the beneficial effect it has had on him. Although his DNA is Inuit, the drums and the sweat lodges are useful to him and have a definite connection to his own culture.
He insists on talking about a very special memory he has that will stay with him forever. One day during a solstice celebration, one of the founders of the Waseskun Healing Lodge, an elderly lady in a wheelchair, visited Waseskun. The sight of her, and the impression she had on him will never be forgotten. How one devoted and caring individual can care so much for so many men who have so much to be forgiven for, is a true inspiration. Her personal energy and love was tangible. We owe it to her to give the best of ourselves for our recovery and for our families. Such individuals are the magic of Waseskun!
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE AN ELDER
An Elder is thoughtful, strong and compassionate.
An Elder condemns all kinds of violence and abuse, not just those kinds that it is convenient for them
An Elder stands up for the weak and speaks truth to power.
An Elder is not perfect but neither is he or she a hypocrite.
An Elder recognises that his or her strength comes from a long line
of ancestors and their accumulated wisdom.
An Elder is always learning.
An Elder is somebody you can expect a fair go from.
An Elder will not attack you when you least expect it instead, an Elder will
stand up for you when you most need it.
An Elder will definitely not take responsibility for you but will encourage you to take
responsibility for yourself and stand alongside of you when you try.
An Elder knows that true dignity comes from within and that nobody can make you feel inferior
without your consent.
An Elder is slow to judge but fierce in his or her defence of the oppressed.
An Elder understands that our history of colonisation has left many of us hurting and afraid.
An Elder will not manipulate our hurt or fear but will help us to see that we can overcome it together.
An Elder has a vision for a better and more peaceful community.
An Elder lives in such a way to make this community happen.
Elders do not hit women and children and do not tolerate
the abuse of any man, woman or child in their community. EVER.
Are you an Elder or are you just old?
Christmas Day at Waseskun
In the morning, the residents came into the Dining Room at different intervals giving their Christmas wishes to all those who were there. A resident shared some melted Brie on crusty bread with those who were interested. Everyone sat chatting and eating until approximately 9:15 a.m.
Santa, an Elf and Mrs. Claus arrived at 9:45. The residents were called one by one to receive their presents from Santa. They each sat on Santa’s knee to receive their gift. There was a very good energy during the gift-giving and the residents seemed to really appreciate the event. All of the residents seemed happy with their presents. One resident in particular said that it was one of the best Christmases that he ever had and was very happy about what he had he received.
The residents and staff mingled and chatted until the Christmas dinner was served. It was a lovely meal and was enjoyed by all. At 1:30 p.m., the residents gathered in the Group Room for the Chinese Auction. The trading off of small gifts was fun. The men’s socks and homemade jam were hot items!
Following the Auction, the residents sat in groups talking or playing board games. It was an enjoyable day for the residents and staff on duty
In the past, tanning hides was a necessary skill practiced by First Nations people across North America. Animal skins were used for clothing, footwear, shelter and glue. The most common procedure involved soaking in some sort of oil compound, hours of scraping, and the addition of some sort of preservative or tanning agent. Those agents could be found in tree bark or other vegetative sources, but oily mixtures made from animal brains or fish oils were also used as preservatives. Tanning was a strenuous time consuming process that fewer and fewer people practice in modern time.
The skins from almost any animal can be tanned, but some skins are better than others depending on the ultimate application in mind. Rabbit hide is fragile but can be woven into a jacket or added as an adornment to baby clothing or ceremonial regalia. The hides from deer, moose and elk are strong and pliable but none of them make good rugs because the hair falls out too easily, whereas bear and buffalo make good rugs and blankets. Tanning hides was so much work that a use was found for every bit of the product. Scraps of rawhide were made into long pieces of lacing by starting at an outside edge and cutting in a continuous circle into the middle of the leather. A surprising long strip can be made that way. Small pieces were often sewn together to make a larger ‘cloth’ or used for fringe. Also, small toys for their children were made from scraps of hide. Leftover leather would often be turned into glue. Tanners would place scraps of hides in a container of water and let them deteriorate for months. The smelly mixture would then be placed over a fire to boil off the water to produce hide glue.
UPDATE – RESIDENT’S PROGRESS
I am just sending this email in regards to sharing with you a little bit of updated news from my end. Reasons are of course are that you have had the opportunity to aid in my healing and so I am only paying back in forms of efforts on my end. I am now at the end of my third year of Indigenous Social Work; it is a four-year degree. I confidently can share that I am standing with a 80.5% avg. I am now doing my practium at a youth center in Saskatoon. It is in the rough end of the city, but an excellent area to work with youth. Also, I have just finished being part of a Youth Resiliency Project that was based out of the U of S. It was a year long project and I was one of two research assistants. Now, I am a research assistant for Aids Saskatoon Society. It really has been quite the journey for me.
Cindy and I are moving into a brand new house build for 6 young men. The house is a pilot project that is aimed to help the transition stage for the youth. Ceremony is still a big part of my life. I share a lot of my growth with the youth and have been able to greatly relate with them. Soon, I will be going from bi-weekly meetings with my p. o to monthly, and am looking forward to this transition. Last summer, I was able to be a project coordinator on contract from the Open Door Society. The project was called ‘Digital Storytelling Project’. I worked with refugee/immigrant youth and Aboriginal youth on this project. It was a blast and a great experience in which I learned a lot. I must say, that I am grateful for the helpers in my life such as Travis, Glenda, Sonny, Dennis and others in my journey. Thank you.
Hope you are well,
In spirit of Community and in Health,
Our circle is timeless, flowing; it is a new life emerging from death and winning out over it.”
–Lame Deer, LAKOTA
When we look at the world in the manner which the Great Spirit designed it, we can see why it makes sense to live in harmony with it: the trees grow and bear fruit, the fruit has seeds, the seeds fall to the ground, the ground grows new trees, and old trees die to make way for the young. Any time we think we can interrupt this cycle or change it, we will experience turmoil and confusion. The Human Cycle exists as the baby becomes the youth, the youth becomes the adult, the adult has children, the adult becomes the Elder, and the Elder teaches the youth. Elders go on to the Spirit World. Spirit comes into babies to produce new life. Flow into the flow. Be the path of least resistance.
My Creator, today, teach me to just flow with the river of life.
INUIT RELATIONSHIP WITHPOLAR BEARS
It is important to understand the Inuit belief that: “human food consists entirely of souls. All the creatures we kill, or strike down to make clothes and to eat, have souls, like we have; souls that do not perish with the body, and which must be appeased for fear that they should avenge themselves on us for taking away their bodies.”
The Inuit also believed that Nuliajuk (also known by a variety of other names, including Sedna), the mother of the animals and mistress of the land and sea, who ruled through ordinary and evil spirits, made the animals either visible and easy to hunt, so that people have enough food and clothing and warmth, or she made them disappear so that humans would be hungry and cold. Because of these beliefs, the Inuit had a complicated set of hunting taboos that they needed to observe to be respectful of the animals and to ensure that future hunting would be successful. Various gestures of respect and kindness to the souls of animals were considered important to encourage them to reincarnate into another body and allow themselves to be killed again by the same hunter.
The polar bear spirit was considered to be the most powerful, dangerous, and potentially revengeful spirit. The killing of a polar bear was a major event. Traditionally, the Inuit did not go out for the single purpose of bear hunting. The hunts were usually accidental. When a hunter was out seal hunting and found fresh bear tracks, he could set out with his dogs armed only with his harpoon. The difficult chase could go on for days. Once the dogs had surrounded the bear, a hazardous fight, fought in close proximity of the bear often injured or scared the hunter for life. Taboos surrounding the bear hunt were for the most part detailed, and particularly difficult to follow. They believed that when a bear had been killed, its soul remained at the point of the harpoon head for four or five days depending on if it was a male or a female. The soul of the bear was very dangerous during those days and may become an evil spirits that pursues people with illness or other distress if offended. Afterwards, the bear’s soul would return to its family.
The hunter who has killed a bear and returns to his house must take off all of his outer clothing, before entering the house. He could not eat of the meat for a whole month For the 4 or 5 days that the death taboo for the soul of the bear was being observed, no work could be done, As soon as the taboo was over, children would throw the gifts to the bear’s soul on the floor and compete in picking them up. Those who would collect the gifts most quickly would become skilled bear hunters. The spirits of humans and polar bears were thought to be interchangeable because bears have many “human” traits. Some stories state that the Inuit ancestors learned how to hunt seals by watching polar bears. They respect the bears’ strength, patience, inquisitiveness, speed, and the maternal devotion to their cubs. Or, could it simply be that they were wary of eating uncooked meat.
The Polar Bear
If the polar bear is your animal totem, you know how to use your own power. You are both fierce and strong yet playful at times. You know how to pursue what you want deliberately and powerfully and you are not afraid to show aggressive behavior. However, you use it for defensive purposes rather than for bullying your way through things. You are a good provider who enjoys providing for others.
If the polar bear has come into your path, he is reminding you of how enormously strong and full of courage you are. He has come to help you stand up to the challenges in your life no matter how intimidating they might be. You will never be overwhelmed. Polar Bear also reminds you that you can strive in environments that may be hostile to others. It can also be here to guide you between the living world and the spirit world and show you how to move between them with ease.
In dreams, Polar Bear are considered a good omen. If you have dreams about the polar bear, it signifies a reawakening within you. This aspect of yourself will defy adversity and reflect a fearlessness of never giving in to your problems. Alternatively, Polar Bear may also reflect a person in your life that you can depend on to do the right thing. You have the ability to compromise nothing to negativity. The dreams also often signify an improvement of your circumstances.
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.
- When going shopping, make it a habit to bring your own eco-bags and say no to plastic bags as much as possible.
- Plant a tree or several of them to increase oxygen and protect the ozone layer.
May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart
Grandfather, Look at our brokenness. We know that in all Creation Only the human family Has strayed from the Sacred Way. We know that we are the ones Who are divided And we are the ones Who must come back together To walk in the Sacred Way. Grandfather, Sacred One, Teach us love, compassion, and honour That we may heal the earth And heal each other.
… by Dr. Art Solomon, Ojibway Elder
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The Waseskun Circle
1 Waseskun street
Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez (Qc), J0K 1W0
Tél. : 450 883-2034 Fax : 450 883-3631