After dealing with the impact of COVID-19 over the past 12 months, the ‘I Love Myself’ theme was very fitting for this year’s annual Heart Medicine Lodge Gathering. While 2020 was challenging, it also offered an opportunity to reflect and allowed many of us to spend more time with loved ones. This year’s Heart Medicine Lodge Gathering was also unique, as it was the first time it was held virtually. Even though we met on online, it was wonderful for the community to come together and connect for a day.
The Gathering started with a pipe ceremony conducted by Ka Ni Kanichihk founder Leslie Spillett followed by opening remarks from Leslie and Executive Director Dodie Jordaan.
Participants then heard from keynote speaker Andrea Landry, a mother, freelance writer, and life skills coach through Red Echo Associates. Andrea talked about the ‘human drama triangle’ – a way of understanding the connection between personal responsibility and power in conflicts, the destructive and shifting roles people play, and how people can take steps to remove themselves from conflict.
Andrea provides a variety of programs in the areas of parenting, health and wellness, social justice, colonialism, Indigenous kinship, grief and recovery, trauma, and other topics, and she teaches for First Nations University of Canada. She is originally from Northwestern Ontario from a small community called Pays Plat First Nation and currently resides on Treaty 6 Territory on Poundmaker Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.
Lunch was delivered to all registered participants and everyone enjoyed some phenomenal online entertainment during the break. Nia & Myla Sutherland, two amazing young artists who sing with the Strong Warrior Girls Anishinaabe Singers choir at their school, shared traditional songs. They were followed by Burnstick – the award-winning husband and wife folk music duo of Jason, a Plains-Cree guitarist, and Nadia, a Francophone-Métis singer-songwriter. Deanna Kimball an Anishinaabe/Finnish ikwe who grew up in Winnipeg, Treaty One territory shared poetry inspired by the resilience, strength, determination, joy, fears, pain, and love of the women in her life. Leonard Sumner, a well know Anishinaabe singer living in Winnipeg, also shared some of his wonderful talent.
In the afternoon, Metis mother of three children and educator, Kisa Macisaac guided us through a Painting Workshop. Kisa spoke about making art as a powerful way to heal and nurture our spirits. Anna Parenteau, a linguist working at the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Center and member of Roseau River First Nation, assisted with the pronunciation of NIZAAGI’IDIZ, so all participants could sound their voice and say this in the Ojibway language.
A special thank you to all Ka Ni Kanichihk participants and staff who helped this day come together. You made contributions, dedicated time, and made and delivered wellness packages all the participants. This day was only possible with your amazing heart work.
Heart Medicine Lodge is a support program for women who have experienced sexual assault. To find out more, visit: kanikanichihk.ca/heart-medicine-lodge