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Indigenous People's Solidarity Group

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The June 2023 Solstice ceremony at St. Matthew's Indigenous Healing Garden. (Marcelle St-Amant)

The Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Group (IPSG) was founded in 2018, as congregants and community members acted on the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We aspire to live in accordance with St. Matt’s Territorial Acknowledgement, now posted streetside, which recognizes 15,000 years of Indigenous history in this place as well as our commitment as settlers to the Land and its first stewards.

The IPSG hosts regular ceremonies and events—including book studies, Indigenous Song Circles, liturgies, and other activities—as well as oversees Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan/Healing Garden.

 

Anyone can join the gardening, reconciliation and spiritual events being held in the garden.  Sign up for the St. Matt’s e-newsletter for regular invitations and reflections from the IPSG, and/or contact Outreach Coordinator Betsy Anderson to join. Keep up with our activities on Facebook.

Upcoming Events:

  • May 11, 7:00 p.m.: Where I Stand: Concert & Conversation on Afro-Indigeneity featuring multi-award-winning recording artist, Julian Taylor in the Sanctuary. Hosted by Dr. Jill Andrew, with Rev. Brigid Maya Douglas & Tamara Este. Tickets are $25/ $28 with tax: http://tinyurl.com/rx4h9aza

  • June 22: Save the date. Fundraising gala for the Indigenous People's Solidarity Group.

  • June 23, 10.30 a.m.:  Worship service to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. Summer Solstice ceremony in Noojimo'iwewin Gitigaan garden after worship

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Burning sage during Winter Solstice ceremony. (image thanks to Jill Andrew.)

Sweetwater Moon reflections

Gitchi miigwetch to Elder Peduhbun Migizi Kwe/Dr. Catherine Brooks for leading our Women's Sweetwater Moon Lodge Monday night, and to Fire Keeper Michael Buyers for working with the Fire in the Good Way he was taught by Elder Asayenes/Dr. Dan Smoke. We spoke; we cried; we toasted one another with Sweetwater from Sheila Moll’s sugar bush in a dozen or more languages, from Anishinaabemowin to Yiddish. We know Creator will hear us, and honour us as women, as daughters, mothers, grandmothers. 

We were thrilled to welcome our Latinx sisters from Brazil and Mexico, and to speak at the Feast table of how we might collaborate more deeply in the coming year: un Pueblo; una Tierra; una lucha como familiares.

 

Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan has featured plants grown by the agricultural nations of the Americas since its inception, including those important to north-south, pre-colonial trade routes. Watch for opportunities to have conversations about bird, butterfly, and human migration and the question of borders come summer. 

 

The next afternoon, the Hippo School children heard the story of how the Maple fed Woodpecker and then the People facing famine, as learned from Elder Gary Sault of the Mississaugas of the Credit. Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan Crew Lead Vanessa Barnes led the children in recreating the relationship between Maple and Woodpecker with hand gestures, sharing a photo of a Red-Crested Woodpecker and pointing out where sap still dripped from the Norway maple where we had tapped.  

The children then had the chance to sample the sap, the light syrup made from that sap, and a dark syrup boiled down over an open fire by the Regal Heights Residents Association. "Boil" and "steam" were the words of the day, and all variations of sap and syrup were declared "yummy." As they went on to their next activity, the children gave four shouts of "chi miigwetch" to thank the Maple for its gift. 

Thank you to all women who attended the Sweetwater Moon Lodge, with additional thanks to IPSG members Betsy Anderson and Sheila Moll, who set up the Parlour and led the clean up. We are also grateful to Susan Noakes and John Keating for their help in tapping our two trees (only one successfully), and their guidance in producing syrup. 

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Celebrating the "sweetwater". Children from Hippo school help in tapping.

Fall events recap

All-Nations Round Dance Concludes Why We Wear Orange Campaign

 

"Learn about Indigenous brilliance and success as much as you learn about Indigenous suffering and trauma." - Megan Tipler ( Métis Educator)

The Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Group and the Community History Project organised a commemorative Orange Shirt Day event that took place at the National Healing Forest Project located at Tollkeeper’s Cottage and Park at Davenport Rd. and Bathurst St. Community members gathered in a circle wearing orange, and were welcomed by Jeanette Mazzacotto, President of the Community History Project whose members steward the small museum and surrounding greenspace.

The event began with an introduction from Isaiah Cada, an Anishnawabe Health Traditional Helper. He started with smudging, a cleansing ritual, for all present followed by an Honour Song. The dancers arrived, and Isaiah introduced his partner, Nichole Leveck, and their daughters Nazarene and Indiana. Included are photographs of Nichole and her daughters dancing along with Isaiah drumming and singing. Afterwards 3 Sisters Soup made by the IPSG members was served, along with strawberries.

This was a vey enjoyable spiritual event and community outreach success for the Why We Wear Orange campaign. We are happy that two staff members from the David Suzuki Foundation attended, as well as our MPP, Jill Andrew, and Heritage Canada Project Officer, Jane Hubbard.

 

Funding for the Why We Wear Orange Campaign was provided by the Government of Canada and generous private donations.

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On Sept. 23, the IPSG and Community History Project hosted a Why We Wear Orange Tea & Bannock gathering featuring Council Fire's Red Bear Singers. Red Bear Singers was founded to bring the healing of drum and song to Residential School and Sixties Scoop survivors and their families.

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Pictures of Why We Wear Orange Day by Linda Wojciechowski

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