| Mar 05, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - March 5, 2009 Cultural workshop timely and informativeBy Julie Druker

Chief Doreen Davis (centre) with guest speakers l to r Kim Meisel and Aimee Bailey

The Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation hosted a cultural workshop on Saturday at St. James Major Hall in Sharbot Lake and two special guests had a chance to speak on topics they know intimately.

Kim Meisel of Golden Lake, an Algonquin Anishnabe Kwe, was invited to the workshop by Chief Doreen Davis to introduce a homemade Anishnabe first-aid kit that uses bush medicines that grow within their own community.

Davis explained that the purpose of the workshop was “to try to revive the medicines and our culture and get it back for our people and start to relive it again and walk that path.”

Davis said that her own grandmother had taught her some of what Meisel spoke of at the workshop. “I never realized until today that I knew so much about this stuff”.

Meisel is a sought-after healer who has received her knowledge about natural medicines and healing techniques from “mishmakaanjgo” which she describes as “little spirits”. As a child she was encouraged to dismiss her gift; thankfully her grandmother stepped in and protected Meisel and her gift.

On display were two tables covered with bags and jars filled with various natural products and remedies. Meisel identified their origins, described their uses and passed them around to participants to be studied more closely. She was careful to speak generally since prescribing medicines is an individual one-on-one practice. Some natural medicines are very strong and can be harmful if administered by someone who does not possess the correct knowledge.

Aimee Bailey, also an Algonquin Anishnabe Kwe, was also invited by Chief Davis to the workshop and spoke earlier in the day. As executive director of the Algonquin Way Cultural Centre in Golden Lake, Bailey is well versed in native traditions. She has studied and participated in aboriginal culture and traditions for over 25 years.

She spoke about the historical migration of the Anishnabe. She explained, “We all came to Turtle Island (North America) from the great salt water in the east (the Atlantic ocean) and then migrated west to the Great Lakes and further to the mid west.

She also spoke in length about the Anishnabe Clan system, the teaching of the seven grandfathers and the emerging models of governance.

“The reason that I was asked to come and talk about the clan system is because of the Algonquin Land Claim situation,” she explained.

Bailey was recently invited to a local governance meeting where elders are considering a new constitution for the governance of the resurgent Algonquin nation. “As it grows, they want to adopt the clan system as the method of government,” Bailey said.

The workshop was timely and offered plenty of information to aboriginal as well as non-aboriginal participants. John Davis and Earl Badour attended the workshop and found it interesting and very beneficial.

“It’s a great opportunity to be taken back to where we should be. It’s getting to know things that were taken away from us - that really puts things in perspective for us. These things still do exist, can still be used and it helps our people,” said Badour.

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