Why We Build a New Lodge

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Why We Build a New Lodge

Earlier this month, staff and volunteers from Pathways CSA, Mahmawi-atoskiwin and the Boys and Girls Club of Calgary headed to Camp Adventure in Sibbald Lake to build a new sweat lodge in time for the summer. A new sweat lodge is built every season to refresh and prepare for upcoming ceremonies. Staff and volunteers gathered together and helped construct the new lodge using willow and coverings (quilts).   

New sweat lodges are always moved to allow the previous site to heal – to allow the grass to grow back and the area to thrive once more. This practice denotes respect and appreciation for nature – a value that has always been a part of Indigenous culture and ceremony.

Building a new lodge serves a practical purpose as well as a more profound one. It enables sweat lodge ceremonies to take place and to continue serving their purpose: cleansing the body, mind and spirit through prayer, and through connection to the spirits of the Grandmothers and Grandfathers. Similar to what takes place during a sweat lodge ceremony, the practice and process of building a new lodge denotes a form of cleansing and renewal in itself.

The construction of a new lodge is another way for people to come together and strengthen their sense of community. It is also a valuable learning opportunity, especially for youth. As Pathways’ Circle Keeper Adrian Goulet says, 

the process of building a new sweat lodge is a great way to pass on traditional knowledge to a younger generation.

Through their participation in the building of a sweat lodge, youth are able to immerse themselves in the culture and learn more about the traditions. They also have the opportunity to learn about themselves – their strengths, skills and cultural identities.  

For many, the construction of a new sweat lodge is a way to contribute, to connect with others, to immerse themselves in Indigenous culture, to pass on traditional knowledge, and to learn new things. It is a way of honouring traditional culture and keeping the circle strong for generations to come. 

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Miskanawah Spring Break Culture Camp

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Miskanawah Spring Break Culture Camp

Our vision at Pathways is that children, youth and families thrive within a culturally responsive community. Our vision is carried out in our Miskanawah Youth Lodge through strong Indigenous cultural teachings around the ideas of respect, love, dignity, honour, and humility.

Miskanawah camps provide an alternative learning and community environment for young people away from the daily pressures of urban living. These camps offer essential opportunities for youth to meet new friends, play games and spend time outdoors while developing skills related to leadership, teamwork, courage and respect for themselves and others.

By connecting with and exploring Indigenous teachings through the natural elements, songs and stories, our camps focus on “quieting the spirit” of our young people so that they have the opportunity for physical, spiritual and emotional growth. Through participation in cultural ceremonies and group activities, youth are supported in discovering their natural strengths and taking healthy risks to explore what is important to them. 

“As Aboriginal people, it is a requirement to be out in nature to connect with the elements,” explained our Elder Patrick Daigneault, who led the ceremonies at our recent spring break camp.  The youth were in awe of Elder Pat’s teachings and how his sense of humour alleviated any feelings of anxiety. 

When asked about the highlights of their time at camp, many spoke about their experience in the sweat lodge.  One 13-year-old camper recalled: “I felt a huge release of negative energy. My problems feel so small.” According to another camper, “in the sweat lodge, I really had a moment to look at my life and think about what I need to change. It was truly an amazing experience.”

Miskanawah Camps aim to help youth engage in self-discovery and to support their quest for purpose. Through exposure to a wide range of activities and Indigenous teachings in addition to opportunities to connect with Elders, participants are supported and encouraged to step out of their comfort zones. This allows them to reflect, practice leadership and develop cooperative skills that allow them to leave camp with a renewed sense of cultural and self-awareness.

A sincere thank you to the Collaborative Funder’s Table and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada for generously supporting our youth programs!

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Resilience Through Music: A Youth Speaker Event

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Resilience Through Music: A Youth Speaker Event

Pathways CSA, in partnership with the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and United Way of Calgary and Area, is proud to have presented the Youth Speaker event on February 23, 2017. For four months, Pathways staff, CBE teachers and trusties met regularly with a group of Indigenous high school students to help the youth organize this special event. The group gathered weekly with the goal of developing an event that was centred on and led by the youth.

Each planning session would begin with a smudge and a talking circle to honour cultural teachings as well as to bless the space and the ideas shared within it.  Each student took on or assisted with important tasks, such as planning meals and other event details, recruiting artists/speakers, creating posters, getting the word out on social media, and managing event logistics. Guided by Pathways and CBE staff, the youth took charge of developing the event and making it a reality.

In addition to weekly planning sessions, the planning committee – students, teachers, trustees and staff – participated in a Sweat Lodge ceremony hosted by Pathways. It was an amazing day and a great experience for both the youth and the teachers to be able to share in ceremony together. Though there is still much work to be done, the ceremony represented how far we’ve come in acknowledging and respecting indigenous ceremonies and the land we inhabit. Never as a young person would I have imagined going into a school and smudging or sharing in a sacred sweat lodge ceremony with both students and teachers present.

The event planning process really started to take shape following the ceremony. We (the planning committee) secured the event artists, including Frank and Darcy Turning Robe to perform traditional Blackfoot drumming and singing. The headline act was international indigenous hip-hop artist, Supaman. Christian Parrish Takes the Gun, professionally known as Supaman, is an Aspa’alooke National rapper currently residing in Seattle, Washington. Well-known through multiple outlets such as his videos on YouTube, Supaman has developed a solid following from around the world that continues to grow daily.

In addition to being the main performer of the event, Supaman agreed to host a special workshop for around 50 indigenous students from Calgary and other surrounding areas. The workshop was held at the Jack James Junior High School prior to his evening performance, which took place in the Forest Lawn High School theatre.  Youth who were present at the workshop were excited as many knew about Supaman and were very familiar with his music through his videos.  

Supaman kicked off the workshop by serenading the crowd with a traditional flute song followed by some fun and engaging icebreaker activities. He spoke openly about the trials and tribulations of growing up in foster care, the death of his father and how he came to be an artist. It was truly inspirational to hear him speak, and many of the youth were able to draw parallels between his story and their own lives. Students were able to interact with the rapper and ask him questions as well as take photos with him after the session. At the end of the workshop, students performed some of their own art – spoken word, rap or beatboxing – in front of the group.

After the workshop, there was a feast for all the youth participants and volunteers. Elders Patrick and Patricia Daigneault kindly provided and blessed delicious moose stew and fried bread for everyone to enjoy. Following the feast, the evening performances began with Frank and Darcy Turning Robe sharing some great stories, drumming and singing, which set the stage for an amazing night. It wasn’t long before Supaman hit the stage, which is when the theatre went wild as he displayed his many artistic talents. Dressed in full, fancy dance regalia, he showcased some of his impressive dancing abilities alongside some fellow dancers, including a husband and wife accompanied by their young daughter in a jingle dress.

Supaman blended hip-hop elements with traditional indigenous culture beautifully. His performance that night proved that he is an excellent rapper who delivers conscious lyrics drawn from life experience. He is also a comedian, an accomplished music producer and DJ, and an all-around performer. Before the end of the night, he had youth and adults on stage having a dance-off competition as well as five brave individuals sharing their rapping skills in front of a packed theatre. This part of the performance was so inspiring. The sight of young people getting on stage to share their art was an epic conclusion to an evening that attendees – youth and adults alike – will never forget.

I spoke to some of the youth afterwards, and they expressed their feelings of inspiration to create and share their own stories. One man in particular is currently in talks to perform his own songs in schools here in Calgary. I think the resounding theme of the event was “hope” – hope that healing and change can come through the voice of our youth guided by the teachings of our elders. Hope that art can bring us all together to talk about issues in our society and acknowledge the beauty of our indigenous roots through stories and ceremony. The event was one we were all able to draw strength from to build momentum and move forward as we continue bridging gaps in our society, our nations and the world. 

by Chris Wainwright, Pathways CSA Youth Lodge Keeper  

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Have A Heart Day

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Have A Heart Day

This Valentine’s Day, children and young adults from schools across the National Capital Region are gathered on Parliament Hill to celebrate Have A Heart Day. Schools and communities across the country are also hosting their own Have A Heart Day celebrations.

So what exactly is Have A Heart Day?

Initiated by the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada (“the Caring Society”), Have A Heart Day is a youth-led reconciliation campaign. As described by the Caring Society, Have A Heart Day aims to unite “caring Canadians to help ensure First Nations children have the services they need to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and be proud of who they are.” It is a celebration of love and fairness for all First Nations children.

More than 5,500 Canadians campaigned and celebrated the event last year, including more than 600 young individuals who gathered on Parliament Hill to call on government officials and all Canadians to have a heart for First Nations youth. Last year’s event on Parliament Hill saw young people reading letters, sharing poems and singing songs. These served as reminders and calls to action to support Indigenous youth and help give them the childhood they deserve.

Have A Heart Day is happening today on Parliament Hill from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. If you’d like to join the celebration but live elsewhere, please click here for information on other Have A Heart events taking place across the country.

The Caring Society has also provided the following ideas to support the ongoing campaign:

•    Send a card or letter supporting Have a Heart Day to the Prime Minister and your Member of Parliament.

•    Bring reconciliation into the classroom to get your students ready. Do Project of Heart, organize a Blanket Exercise workshop, or screen a film. For other great ideas, visit the Shannen's Dream School Resources page

•    Spread the word through social media like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #HaveaHeartDay and/or #JourneeAyezUnCoeur

Please click here to access the Caring Society’s website for more information and resources.

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11th Annual Honour Round Dance

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11th Annual Honour Round Dance

Pathways CSA is privileged to have hosted the 11th Annual Honour Round Dance in memory of the late Elder Gordon McGilvery on January 21, 2017. This year’s Round Dance saw hundreds of community members gathered in ceremony and celebration at Bowness Community Association’s Main Hall.

The Round Dance, which is a ceremony in itself, included a pipe ceremony, smudging and a big feast followed by rounds of dancing to traditional drumming and singing. People of all ages and backgrounds, from respected Elders to young children, joined together for healing and to give thanks for their blessings.

The Honourable Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan - MLA Edmonton Rutherford and Deborah Drever – MLA Calgary Bow were also in attendance at the Round Dance, where they expressed their appreciation to the community during their speeches.

The energy remained vibrant throughout the entire evening, beginning with the initial pipe ceremony that was followed by a delicious feast. The feast included traditional staples like stews and bannock, as well as roasts and cake for everyone. As per tradition, the food was freshly prepared on the day of the Round Dance itself and provided energy for all attendees to dance throughout the night.

Individuals, couples and families danced to music played by traditional drummers and singers, some of whom travel to Calgary from other Western Canadian cities for the Round Dance every year. As is customary, those in attendance received gifts that were blessed as part of the Giveaway Ceremony. Drummers and singers played a beautiful song of gratitude, and everyone held up the gifts they received as an open expression of thanks. Attendees also received food to take home and share with their families at the end of the night.

Pathways is truly blessed and honoured to be able to host a Round Dance every year. As always, we would like to acknowledge and thank everyone who made this year’s ceremony possible, especially to the amazing volunteers who kindly contributed their time and energy to making the 11th Annual Round Dance a huge success.

(Photos by Kevin McElheran)

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Parenting Programs

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Parenting Programs

What does Truth and Reconciliation mean for you, for us?  Pathways is on a journey to answer this question as an organization, and with our community. 

Click here to read our latest blog on the Final Report and Calls to Action.

Today we’re highlighting an important Call to Action in our journey: Call to Action #5

 “We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate parenting programs for Aboriginal families.”

Although the Call to Action itself is addressed to governments, community organizations are integral to its implementation.  Not only do many of us already develop and offer parenting programs in our communities, but we also go to great lengths to build strong relationships with families every day.

Call to Action #5 is at the heart of our Family Lodge programming.

Here at Pathways, a Kokum’s (Cree for Grandmother) Council convenes up to four times a year (every season) to guide us in offering our home-visitation and parenting programs.  At the Kokum’s Council, we first begin in ceremony and then share in circle with women from many nations.  We develop our Indigenous parenting programs in this way, but also continually draw on the guidance and teachings to support the families we work with and our daily practice.

Because we work in an urban centre, we seek guidance from Elders of many nations so that all of our families feel comfortable and respected.

The Kokum’s Council is one example of how we work from an Indigenous worldview to deliver culturally grounded parenting programs.  Click here to find out more about our parenting programs.

We invite you to share how your organization is responding to this Call to Action in the comments section below.

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Truth and Reconciliation

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Truth and Reconciliation

Over the past year, Pathways has been striving to gain a deeper understanding of our role in the national Truth and Reconciliation movement, which requires a solid grounding in what ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ means to us as individuals, as an agency, a city and a nation. 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) resulted from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in order to begin the process of reconciliation in Canada. The TRC created platforms for Aboriginal people to speak out and share their experiences from residential schools. National Truth and Reconciliation events were held across the country along with regional events, local hearings and town halls. The TRC received 6,750 written statements from survivors of residential schools which demonstrated the horrors and hurt residential schools inflicted upon its students.

Mandated by the Government of Canada, the TRC created the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in 2013 at the University of Manitoba. The Centre is the official home for all things related to the TRC. 

In 2015, the TRC released its final report which contained 94 Calls to Action. The Calls to Action call upon all levels of governments to right their wrongs and for all Canadians to learn the truth about Canadian history.

In the spirit of reconciliation, former Prime Minister Harper issued an official apology to all former students of the residential school system in Canada in 2008. In March of 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces unqualified support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, fulfilling one of the Calls to Action by the TRC. Provincial leaders have also provided support to the work of the TRC, including Alberta Premier Rachel Notley who has expressed support for the work of the TRC.

The TRC requires the help of every Canadian to join together as one community to heal and reconcile the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. You can start making a difference today by simply joining in the challenge to read the TRC’s final report and its Calls to Action. After you read the report, encourage your friends and family to read it as well. Let’s join together as a community and begin the journey of healing.

Be sure to follow our blog for more posts in our Truth and Reconciliation series

 

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Cultural Engagement and Wellness

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Cultural Engagement and Wellness

At Pathways, we use The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples definition of wellness which is, “Aboriginal concepts of health and healings start from the position that all elements of life and living are interdependent.  By extension, well-being flows from balance and harmony among all elements of personal and collective life.” 

We have recently set out to determine how engaging with culture influences health and wellness.  The first step on this journey was to conduct a review of the academic literature around the search question: “does Aboriginal cultural engagement improve wellness?”

The results from our review showed that engaging in one’s own Aboriginal culture is associated with improved wellness across a wide range of outcomes. Engagement with cultural activities, ceremony, and language preservation, has been shown to be protective against youth suicide, illicit and prescription drug abuse, diabetes, risky alcohol consumption, and involvement in the criminal justice system.  Those actively engaging with their culture were also more likely to self-report good health.

What is missing in the literature is how and why cultural engagement has a positive impact on wellness.  Difficult questions to answer!!  Our next steps will be consulting with Elders and community members to gain deeper understanding on these tough questions.

Through our Miskanawah resources, Pathways strives to create more opportunities for our families and all Calgarians to connect with culture and ceremony, with the vision that children, youth, and families thrive within a culturally responsive community.

References

Chandler, M. J., & Lalonde, C. (1998). Cultural continuity as a hedge against suicide in Canada's First Nations. Transcultural psychiatry, 35(2), 191-219.

Currie, C. L., Wild, T. C., Schopflocher, D. P., Laing, L., & Veugelers, P. (2013). Illicit and prescription drug problems among urban Aboriginal adults in Canada: the role of traditional culture in protection and resilience. Social Science & Medicine, 88, 1-9.

Dockery, A. M. (2010). Culture and wellbeing: The case of Indigenous Australians. Social Indicators Research, 99(2), 315-332.

Hallett, D., Chandler, M. J., & Lalonde, C. E. (2007). Aboriginal language knowledge and youth suicide. Cognitive Development, 22(3), 392-399.

Oster, R. T., Grier, A., Lightning, R., Mayan, M. J., & Toth, E. L. (2014). Cultural continuity, traditional Indigenous language, and diabetes in Alberta First Nations: a mixed methods study. International journal for equity in health, 13(1), 92.

 

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Talking Circles

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Talking Circles

Today we would like to share with you about the importance of talking circles.

We have written about talking circles before, but here is a brief reminder of what they are: Talking circles are a traditional way for people to come together. They provide an atmosphere of inclusiveness, safety, and respect that encourages dialogue, learning, problem solving and co-creativeness. When everyone in the circle speaks and is heard in a respectful way, our relationships become nutritive, fun, and harmonious.

Pathways holds a talking circle every Wednesday morning. We do this once a week to provide an opportunity for our employees to come together as a community and share their experiences. Before talking circle begins, we smudge and pray. We smudge using sweet grass or sage to cleanse and purify our beings before the Creator. The smudge is a medicine that we use to clear our minds, calm our emotions, and to strengthen our spirits.

Talking circles are an important part of Pathways as they strengthen our community and provide us with an opportunity to be heard.  We acknowledge that the circle itself is sacred and that the circles themselves represent wholeness, harmony, balance, inclusiveness and the many cycles of life.

If you would like to learn more about talking circles, click here.

 

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National Aboriginal Day

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National Aboriginal Day

Happy National Aboriginal Day!

Today we would like to celebrate our Elders, and share the role of Elders in our organization.

Elders are the leaders, teachers, advisors, role models, and cultural advisors to the community. Elders make culture available to everybody, are people of great wisdom, and are well respected by the community. Elders are responsible for passing on the traditions and cultural responsibilities to the community’s young people, and lead the community in ceremony such as feasts, sweats, and smudges.

Elders are frequently sought out by members of the community who need advice, healing, or protection. Whenever an individual wants to approach an elder, they must first ask the community what is required of them before visiting a particular Elder. Tobacco is an important and sacred element that must always be presented when visiting an Elder. By bringing tobacco, you are demonstrating respect and in return, the Elder will respect and will listen to your questions. Tobacco is used in ceremony such as sweat lodge, pipe ceremonies and prayers. The tobacco that you bring to an Elder will be used in their next ceremony, and they will offer your prayers to the Creator. This is a very sacred process.

At Pathways, our Elders lead us in ceremony and provide guidance on how to incorporate Aboriginal teachings into our programs while also providing us with wisdom and direction for the organization. Our Elders strive to share Aboriginal culture with all who are interested, in a mindful and respectful way. Our Elders also assist us in incorporating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action into the operation and function of Pathways.

If you are interested in connecting with one of our Elders here at Pathways, please email: info@pathwayscsa.org

 

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Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary 2016

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Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary 2016

It’s Aboriginal Awareness Week in Calgary!

Aboriginal Awareness Week is an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate and learn more about Aboriginal culture.

In the spirit of Aboriginal Awareness Week, we are giving you a chance to win some sweet Pathways swag on Instagram!!

Contest Rules:

  1. Follow us on Instagram @PathwaysCSA

  2. Post a picture of your favourite Aboriginal Awareness Week moment using the hashtags #PathwaysCSA #AAW2016

  3. Contest closes midnight on Friday, June 24; winner will be announced June 27

  4. You must live in the Calgary area to be eligible

Over the course of this week, we will be sharing aspects of Aboriginal culture that are important to us and stories about the work we do

If you didn’t know already, Pathways CSA is grounded in Aboriginal teachings to deliver supportive services to children, youth, and families as they strengthen their circles of self, family, community, and culture.

For example, did you know that our Miskanawah Cultural Resources programming provides opportunities for all Calgarians to come together and engage with Aboriginal culture? If you are interested in learning more about Miskanawah and how you can get involved, visit http://www.pathwayscsa.org/miskanawah-resources/.

And don’t forget to follow us on Instragram @PathwaysCSA, and tag your posts #PathwaysCSA #AAW2016. 

We can’t wait to see your photos!

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Pathways CSA and Freed Artist Society (ReFreshed), Hip Hop Program for Youth

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Pathways CSA and Freed Artist Society (ReFreshed), Hip Hop Program for Youth

Over the last 7 months I have had the pleasure of being involved in a joint collaborative effort between Pathways CSA and the Freed Artist Society known as the Hip Hop program for youth. Over this period of time I’ve had the pleasure to witness some inspirational young people take huge strides in their expressive and personal development. This is not just limited to youth, - myself, adults, volunteers and community members have embraced the teachings and experiences that this program provides.

The first semester of programming was concentrated on building/equipping youth with the tools and confidence needed to share their experiences through the arts and 4 elements of Hip Hop. These elements include DJ (Turntable), MC (Rapping), Graffiti (visual arts), and Break dancing (expression through movement).  Many youth have used many of these elements to tell their stories and express their hopes and dreams moving forward.

Every Thursday evening participants spend 2.5 hrs with artists, volunteers and staff building on these skills of expression. Some youth have told us that our program provides the one place they can come every week and feel safe to share their art and ideas. We also blend Aboriginal culture into the programing with weekly talking circles and smudging as well as community Elders who visit the program.

In early April 2016, we were able to participate in the unveiling of the video project created by Morley First Nations ReFreshed Crew youth during Juno Week celebrations. Our group was given their own conference space and stage to share a performance and meal with Canadian hip hop legend Kardinal Official.

What the youth didn’t know was that Music Canada, in partnership with TD bank, were presenting the program with $20,000 worth of new equipment, including brand new recording equipment, turntables, mixer boards, speakers, and wireless mic’s.  Calgary’s mayor, the Hon. Naheed Nenshi, even payed the group a visit to congratulate the program and its participants. 

We as a group are currently winding down our final sessions before summer break and are creating a video concept of our own. We are hoping to host a Block Party video presentation by mid-summer (stay tuned for that announcement).

All youth involved in the program will have the opportunity to share what they’ve created on this multimedia video concept, and will be presented a copy at its completion.

Our hip hop program has been a wonderful, uplifting experience for those involved and we hope to foster this great collaboration moving forward so that we may serve many more youth and families.

Written by Chris - Pathways CSA youth worker and hip-hop program facilitator 

ReFreshed Crew video highlighted during Juno Week Celebrations:

Funding for Pathways CSA's hip hop programming in generously provided by the Collaborative Funder's Table

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10th Annual Honour Round Dance

On January 16, Pathways Community Services Association held our 10th annual Honour Round Dance in honour of our late Elder Gordon McGillvary.  The Round Dance is our way to say thank you to all community members and to celebrate together by traditional ceremony, feasting, and song and dance.

 

A Round Dance is an Aboriginal healing and blessing ceremony as well as a social gathering for the community.  Traditionally held during the winter months, it is a ceremony to unite the community while enduring the cold on the Canadian Plains.  A traditional Round Dance encompasses many ceremonies. Pathways’ Round Dance begins with a traditional pipe ceremony led by our Elder. This ceremony is for prayers to bless the Round Dance, the food, the singers, the people and families in attendance, and to give thanks for our many blessings.

The feast ceremony then begins by preparing a plate offering to all our relations in spirit. Next we eat!  Elders will always be served first customarily by a younger person. The celebration then swings into high gear by community members, families, and Elders dancing up a storm to the beat of drummers and singers who come from all over western Canada.

After a few hours of dancing the Give Away ceremony begins by the blessing of the gifts, to be given to everyone in attendance.  Later we give away apples, through the apple dance, to ensure that everyone leaves with a gift. The round dance ends by giving away any food that still can be consumed.

Hiy hiy (thank you) to everybody who came and participated in this year’s Round Dance and to all of the dedicated volunteers who made the Round Dance happen!   We would also like to thank the event sponsors: The Calgary Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary, Bearspaw Benevolent Foundation, Nexen, Talisman Energy Inc. and NATION Imagination.


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Miskanawah Youth Camps

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Miskanawah Youth Camps

Pathways Miskanawah Youth Camps invite youth, with guidance from Elders, to attend a summer camp aimed at exposing them to traditional teachings, songs, stories, and ceremonies.

We hope the youth will build important friendships with their peers and develop skills associated with outdoor living, all while enjoying the beauty of Mother Earth.

This summer, we ran two very successful summer camp sessions.  Youth participated in talking circle, smudging, sweat lodge ceremony, sage harvesting, medicine wheel teachings, and tipi camping.  We even went river rafting, cliff diving, and hiking up mountains!

Youth from all cultural backgrounds came to camp, for all different reasons.   One camper shared that they wanted to learn more about Aboriginal culture because they wanted to build stronger relationships with the Aboriginal foster kids in their home.   A South American camper expressed his appreciation for Aboriginal culture and his strong connection to a culture that was new to him.

The culture is about respect and love, and all people can relate to that.  We all want personal connections and strong relationships.

We worked hard to build a trusting and safe environment for the campers.  They took many risks; both emotional and physical.  One camper had very poor vision and expressed concern about participating in some of the activities.  By the time those activities came, she jumped right in with the rest of the campers.  She was hiking up mountains and river rafting.  When it was her turn to cliff dive, she jumped in enthusiastically.  When she hit the water, she had to follow sound of everyone’s voice to guide her to the shore.  That’s the kind of environment we strive to foster.

The campers thrived on the respect for their individuality and the freedom of choice we gave them in certain situations, and to participate in as much or as little as they wanted to in the cultural activities

Every camper was acknowledged for who they were as an individual; their being was affirmed.

To everyone involved in our Miskanawah Youth Camps, we would like to say

Hiy hiy. Thank you.


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Miskanawah Family Sweat Lodge

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Miskanawah Family Sweat Lodge

The Miskanawah Family Sweat Lodge is a sacred ceremony and is central to the Pathways organization.  It is a safe place for spiritual refuge and spiritual renewal; a safe place to learn, confide in elders, receive teachings and guidance from elders, make new friends, and even to gain cultural awareness for professionals.   We provide this ceremony to support our clients, our staff, and our families. The ceremony is also open to the public.
 

[The Lodge] became a place of healing for me because I’ve lived a colourful life. [..] To be introduced to culture through sweats taught me how to heal and how to thrive in the culture.  Now I love them, I go to every one.  It’s a place of peace and serenity where you can safely let things go with no judgment…”

The Lodge was founded by Patrick Daigneault (Swift Eagle), and is a beautiful place that welcomes all Nations – men, women, and children.  Everyone has always been included and invited.   The Lodge opens doors for families to explore.  Each individual will have a different experience at the Lodge. 
- Elder Patrick Daigneault (Swift Eagle)
 

There has always been animosity between my son and daughter.  Recently, I had the honor of having my son and daughter together with me at the Lodge.   Since coming to the Lodge, my son and daughter have connected and are mending the animosity between them.  They work together and are very supportive of each other now.  The positive changes that have happened in my son since he’s connected with his sister are surprising – they’ve caught me off guard.  It was the initial healing that took place at the Lodge, that’s what’s made this so special.  I feel very lucky and honoured to be part of the Lodge through Pathways – it has been so special to be able to bring both of my kids.”

 - Pathways Volunteer and Supporter

If you would like to learn more about the Miskanawah Family Sweat Lodge, or would like to participate, please contact Pathways at info@pathwayscsa.org.

 

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The Power of a Talking Circle

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The Power of a Talking Circle

Talking circles are an Aboriginal traditional way for people to come together to talk. They provide an atmosphere of inclusiveness, safety and respect that encourages dialogue, learning, problem solving and co-creativeness. When everyone in the circle speaks and is heard in a respectful way our relationships become nutritive, fun and harmonious.

Closeness, [the Talking Circle] brings the team together.  I feel more connected and more connected to my co-workers…”

We begin our Talking Circle by smudging ourselves with sweet grass or sage. We smudge to cleanse and purify our beings. The smudge is a medicine that we use to clear our minds, calm our emotions, and to strengthen our spirits.

 “I enjoy the Talking Circle because it’s a good way to share in a non-judgmental way…”

Many of our sacred objects are used to help facilitate our Talking Circles.  A candle is lit in the Circle to acknowledge the fire spirit which helps us to listen to each other. We pass an eagle feather around to each person, when they hold this feather they speak and everyone else hears them.

[The Talking Circle] has a huge influence on Pathways as a whole […] the sense of community – people can choose how much they want to share. If somebody is struggling, you know about it.  Some things that people share, they probably wouldn’t if there wasn’t that community and trust…”

Pathways CSA acknowledges that the circle itself is sacred and is the Aboriginal symbol of life representing wholeness, harmony, balance, inclusiveness and the many cycles of life.

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Tipis and the Rising Sun

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Tipis and the Rising Sun

As we support clients with our regular work, we set up the Tipi at the Tsuu T'ina Pow Wow & Rodeo and volunteer in order to give back and celebrate community unity and wellness.

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