There were lots of smiling faces, full bellies and nimble fingers last Saturday at the Crow Lake School House for the Ardoch Algonquins holiday gathering. The event was co-sponsored by Apagadiwag Omamawi'ininiwag (Algonquin) Community development circle. This group is a cultural arm of the Ardoch Algonquin first nation that works with both heads of family and on multi-community initiatives such as this gathering which included a shared meal, turkey and ham raffles, song sharing, pouch-making for Tobacco and an explanation of the Apagadiwag Needs assessment project.
“Our focus isn’t on divisive political entities, we had people from Ardoch Algonquin, from Shabot Obadjewan, from Smiths Falls here today. Our focus is how to recover culture, language, ways of being. These things are needed in order to heal.” Said Paula Sherman, who will be spearheading the research part of the needs assessment. The group received a Trilium grant for the next year do this project.
They are looking to hear from people about their knowledge and also their needs. Figuring out what needs can be met within the community, and in what ways could social programming and medical care be more culturally sensitive to indigenous experiences, trauma and ways of being.
“We want to get a sense of who all the indigenous people are, where they are? Are their needs being met? We want the needs assessment to be less formal, more holistic we want to gather together and build relationships in a community way. We want to create a safe space for any first nations to come”. Said Rosa Barker, director/member of Apagadiwag Omamawi'ininiwag.
The room was anything but formal, it was warm from the fire and folks were visiting and nibbling around the tables. Kids ran around, finishing the pouches they had just made and stuffing them with dried tobacco.
“To me its a very special medicine, its good for you and good for the earth” 8 year old Sadie Barker-Badour shared.
“Asemaa is how you say tobacco in Anishnaabemowin” (the language spoken by the Anishinaabe people) her mother, Rosa, explained.