Feature | by Bev Cardinal
Taanishi! This inaugural column comes to you from Bev Cardinal’s Métis kitchen, with gratitude and thanks to Creator for this opportunity to share some stories. (Also thanks to PD editor Stephen Whitworth for knowing it’s “past time” for some Indigenization of Prairie Dog.)
Jwaen, Wonderful Jwaen!
June (“Jwaen” in the Michif language) marks a big shift in the calendar and happy times for us hardcore Saskatchewanians who survive every effing winter and fickle spring! For over 10,000 years, Indigenous peoples counted on June to bring longer days for hunting, fishing and preserving food for the next winter. Not to mention tanning hides, repairing tipis and making clothing… sigh. Makes me tired just thinking about it.
But it wasn’t all work and no play. Oh no, it wasn’t!
Despite more than a century of “colonizers know best”-style efforts to dismantle our languages and cultures, our traditional ceremonies to honour Mother Earth and celebrate rites of passage and the land’s rebirth continue. Perhaps the month’s most significant is the summer solstice ceremony, now practiced by only a handful of elders and knowledge keepers.
I’ve been honoured to attend a summer solstice ceremony — walking out onto the land just before dawn, standing in the medicine wheel, participating in the sacred pipe ceremony. It was powerful and life-affirming. Ceremonies help us clear out old energy and make room for the new. Which is more essential than ever for Indigenous survival in Saskatchewan’s urban jungles.
NIHM And NIPD
Indigenous people always make the absolute best of June and, thanks to some old politicians, it’s even legal now! Here’s some ways you can join us to recognize, honour and celebrate our diverse cultures during National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous People’s Day:
BRIDGE DIVIDES Take a drive across Regina’s Albert Street bridge and note the Treaty Four and Métis flags. But do it soon, because the flags get changed faster than you can say “reconciliation”!
POWWOW NOW! Go to at least one powwow this summer! Google “powwow etiquette” for tips on what to expect. Ignore any results written in Russian.
CELEBRATE THE DATE Participate in a National Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration on June 21! Obviously!
ASSESS YOUR ’SHIPS At the very least, think about your relationships with Indigenous people. Are they positive? Are they genuine? Do you have any? If not, ask yourself, “Why the hell not? What am I afraid of?”
Finally, if the thought of Indigenous folks having way too much fun in June doesn’t fit grim stereotypes, go read the recently released National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report. It will bring you right back down. More on that next time.
Maarsii! Thank you (maarsii) for reading!