THUNDER BAY – “As women we are the keepers of the water” said Theresa Trudeau Magiskan the Traditional Healer Coordinator at Anishnawbe Mushkiki Health Center. “It is the first thing we use every morning. It is life.”
Friday night marked the Full moon Ceremony, which is a Native Women’s tradition that has been continued for hundreds of years. It is a celebration, a gift to women, a time of healing , sharing and praying to the creator to thank them for what they have and ask them for the guidance needed. All are welcome to this gathering and it is asked that tobacco wrapped in yellow fabric be brought as an offering and in keeping with the tradition all women wear skirts.
The ceremony was held at the Anishawbek Mushkiki lodge at 29 Royston Court began with the traditional pipe song, welcome song, and songs for the women and the men in attendance.
All songs were played on a ceremonial drum which is adorned with feathers and blessed by tobacco, sage and sweet-grass and has the four colors Red, Black, White and Yellow facing the correct directions of East, West, North and South.
After the people, food and tobacco were blessed properly with a smudging ceremony, the ceremony headed outside to the traditional fire to pray and offer tobacco by placing it in the fire.
Each yellow bundle of tobacco is prayed over then tossed into the fire followed by a scream to allow the spirits to hear the prayers. Both men, women and children participated in the ceremony and making offerings of food as well as tobacco to the spirits.
The ceremony which had over two dozen people in attendance continued with the sharing of berries and water.
The night ended with well played songs, dancing and the traditional shaking hands.
Friday’s ceremony had many first time Moon Ceremony participants. It is something done every full moon and all, both First Nations and Non First Nations peoples are welcome to attend these in addition to other events held by the center.
Backgrounder on Anishnawbe Mushkiki Traditional Healing Programs
The goal of this program is to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal people living in Thunder Bay and surrounding areas.
Knowledge empowerment is critical to improving and promoting wellness in Aboriginal communities striving for self-reliance and is achieved by using the traditional and cultural teachings and values that kept individuals and communities strong in the past.
The program offers Seasonal Feasting Ceremonies, Sweat Lodge Ceremonies, Drum Teachings, Traditional Crafts, Regalia Making and Anishnawbe language and culture teachings. The Traditional Coordinator invites elders for spiritual guidance and consultation, naming ceremonies, grieving ceremonies and provides access to Traditional Healers.
The Traditional Coordinator also provides individual and community cultural education on the following:
- Medicine Wheel Teachings
- Seven Grandfather Teachings
- Clan Teachings
- Traditional Child Rearing
- Women’s Teachings
- Four Sacred Medicines
For more information visit www.mushkiki.org
Story and photographs by Lynda Henshell.