Foundation staff learn and grow at Turtle Lodge.
In mid-June, Foundation staff had the privilege of visiting the Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness on Sagkeeng First Nation, where they learned about ceremonies, teachings and history.
Turtle Lodge, also known as Anishnabe Mikinack Kinamakami, was established by Anishinabe Elder Dave Courchene as a place for sharing universal and ancient knowledge, reconnecting to the earth and nature, and sharing among people of all nations.
Elder Courchene welcomed staff and shared insights about several topics, including the Seven Sacred Laws. Walking Wolf Drum Group demonstrated a Pipe Ceremony and traditional songs, while Anishinabe Grandmother Mary Maytwayashing demonstrated the Water Ceremony. Dakota Grandmother Katherine Whitecloud explained the Grandmother Teachings, T-Dre Player discussed Rites of Passage, and Anishinabe Elder Harry Bone presented about the meaning of the Treaty. There were additional sessions by Troy Fontaine, Robert Maytwayashing and others.
The Winnipeg Foundation is committed to walking together with our community on our shared journey of truth and reconciliation. Foundation staff have shared some of their reflections from the day.
“I found their words to be generous given what they had personally experienced or others close to them had experienced. Their message was one of peace and a new path forward and I found that very moving.”
“One of the things that stood out most to me was the use of symbolism and the practice of gratitude. Everything has a greater meaning and a deeper purpose, from the Seven Sacred Teachings to the design of the lodge itself. Elder Dave Courchene was right, you do not leave the lodge the same as when you entered. “
“Turtle Island is a spiritual, peaceful setting to explore our individual gifts, purpose and role. Elder Dave Courchene’s reflection that prophecy represents hope resonated deeply for me.”
“Very spiritual. The different people that talked were genuine. They were not afraid to say that they were afraid, going on the wrong path and that they found themselves and found peace again at the Turtle Lodge.”
“It was so enlightening to better understand the ceremony Indigenous culture is steeped in. This has given me a new appreciation for all the rituals that are part of our country’s DNA.”
“I really enjoyed Elder Harry Bone’s historical perspective, having been in the middle of the Indigenous rights movement for decades. It’s inspiring to hear from someone who has dedicated their life to a cause that’s been an uphill battle, but who still maintains such kindness and optimism.”
“The moment that stood out for me was when Knowledge Keeper Katherine Whitecloud told us about the burning of the teepee in Brandon University. And how there was silence. No condemnation of the act. Just another story on the news. She talked about how the one teepee was burned and later in the afternoon community members had put up four more. I took away that leadership is critical in reconciliation and that leadership comes from community.”
“A reflection that stood out from me was everything we do to support our community needs to be connected to the well-being of our environment and nature.”
This story is featured in the Summer 2019 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.