Our program will address the root causes of the loss of our traditional culture and how best to regain what has been lost. The loss of our traditional knowledge harms everyone: men, women and children are especially vulnerable. The loss of individual and community identity is strongly linked with other social determinants including living conditions, poverty, employment, education drop-out rates, loss of culture and identity.
Our strategy to reduce and acknowledge the impact of the past and be holistic, encompassing not just the individual, but the individual within the context of the family, the community, and larger society.
We will involve the active and equal participation of all community members. Strategies cannot be generic but must be tailored to the specific context of our communities, be innovative and be culturally appropriate, “rather than adapting existing programs and services that may not address the underlying causes of family violence in our community.” We will also involve multi-sectoral, inter-agency collaboration in order to be effective. Since “suicide, substance abuse, poverty, poor health, unemployment and family violence are all inseparable,” any “attempts to address the problem of loss of our traditional culture cannot be effective unless accompanied by change at the systemic level.”
A. Community Based Events
These events may be scrapbooking, mural painting, traditional bake sales, respect for our environment by having clean up days, etc. and would be activities held by community for community members.
B. Community Based Workshops
These would be formal workshop sessions that would be delivered by an expert with particular goals and objectives. These would include sessions such as cross cultural training, identifying traditional medicine use, traditional medicine walks, etc.
C. Community Ceremonies
The program will provide education and opportunity to participate in various ceremonies as a means to bring the community together more often.
The Programming Concept - Cultural Program Services
The program will source of knowledge for the community and will undertake activities such as
D. Language Support
- Historical Preservation and Information Development
- Art Development and Cultural Workshops
- Community Outreach
it is our hope that by the revival of old ceremonies, practices and teachings such as smudging, the sweat lodge, the use of the sacred pipe, fasting, vision quests, and ceremonies for naming, healing, reconciliation, and personal or collective commitment. It has been found that the bringing back and re-legitimizing of traditional spiritual and cultural teachings will contribute a great deal to our community healing and development processes.
Elders and other spiritual/cultural leaders who continue to share traditional knowledge and personal insight about healing, human and community development, to serve as counselors and healers for individuals, and to lead ceremonies and other community renewal processes.
All things in the universe are interdependent and everything within life is connected and necessary. The four elements - fire, water, air and earth - are all life giving. The seasons move from one to another as necessary parts of the whole. The stars, planets, and all aspects of universal bodies make up the whole of which we are all part. One is not more important than others.
If we understand the principle of wholeness we will develop the ability to `listen' to our entire being, the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and with the help of the Creator, we may come to experience the centered, peaceful feeling of being whole, being at one with ourselves, the environment, the universe.
The Seen and the Unseen
The physical world around us helps our conscious mind become aware of the seen. The unseen, the spiritual world, is constantly with us both in our conscious and unconscious state. Each of these worlds has laws, which govern them. If we violate the laws of one it impacts on the other. Again, the principle of wholeness is applicable, as together these two worlds create a `whole reality' of which human beings must be mindful.
The dualistic nature of the spiritual and physical realities is an important component of Algonquin society. The rejuvenation of Mother Earth from the warmth of the sun and rain showers begins new life and sustains life in nature. As exemplified, natural phenomenon provides positive and life affirming moments, but nature also creates grave catastrophe and disaster. All aspects of the universe including humans share this dualism.
Respect, humility, love, courage, honesty, wisdom, truth, kindness and patience are qualities that we strive to develop. While these qualities are reinforced in ceremonies, legends, stories, and Elders' advice, we acknowledge our human weakness. Developing our positive potential - an effort to balance the internal inconsistency becomes part of our task and accepting conflict and suffering is an essential part of being. When we do this, we help others without crippling involvement and we influence life.
All creation is in a constant state of change. Acceptance of change and moving with change is part of the natural process of things. Change occurs in two ways, disintegration or the creation of something. Disintegration may be experienced through painful experiences and development by overcoming the difficult. Disintegration is a springboard to development and lessons of disintegration can be positive turning points.
Individuals, families, or communities must exercise choice if they are to become more than they currently are. Choice must have wholeness at its core and for if an individual seeks a positive change, but only focus on the physical nature (and do no encompass all aspects of their humanity) the change be ineffective.
Human beings are a reflection of the Creator, and because of this, there is within human beings, great potential. If however, potential is blocked, our humanity is blocked. We may become sick in the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of our being. This applies to individuals, families, and communities. Development is the path to unblocking the potential in order to focus on healing the individual, family, and community.
There are four aspects of every person, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual that must all be attended to. If one of these aspects is unstable, either negatively or positively, all aspects will be affected. Individuals may focus too much on one or two of these dimensions and the result will be an imbalanced individual. For example, the person who attempts to learn things only from an intellectual perspective is concentrating too much on their mental capacities. When this happens, a reaction occurs within the whole person in an attempt to reclaim balance. Feelings of anxiety or depression may develop. The individual's body may tire and weaken easily. Illness may become more frequent, as the other aspects `calls out for balance'.
Humility is truth and if we know ourselves in an honest way - if we see our flaws and our strengths, and can embrace them - we are free to both love ourselves as we are, and to change in ways we consider fit. If we avoid truth, we may become trapped in a very self-centered place with blame and resentment as companions.
The family provides love, nourishment, warmth, and stability needed to develop as whole, healthy people. If the family is strong, individuals grow strong. If the family is weak, so are the individuals. Through resolving suffering, families begin to heal, strengthen and turn once again to strong kinship, sharing, and respect as the basis of family life.
There are four aspects to family life that are interconnected and need attention. They are the marriage relationship, the parent-child relationship, the sibling relationship and the grandparent and parent and grandparent and children relationship. This is not intended to represent the nuclear family but to reflect the strong kinship ties of aunts, uncles, cousins who fall into parent and sibling roles in many of the First Nation's traditional families.
A family may have its own set of unique patterns that must be understood before a new vision for the families emerges. The patterns may be negative such as in the case of abuse of alcohol or they may be positive such as strong loving family unit. When intervening to strengthen or heal families the various relationships must be clarified honestly to understand the family as a whole. It must be understood that if one aspect of the relationship is troubling then all relationships within the family are tainted by dissension. A healthy family will view themselves as interconnected. It is suggested; the family molds the individual while the collective of families forms communities and nations.
Individuals and families make up communities. It may be a geographical community or a community based on common goals or a community of visionaries attempting to shape and change reality. Whatever the case, the role of individuals or families is to include social, economic, political, and spiritual issues.
The relationship in communities can be effective or ineffective, healthy or unhealthy, honest or dishonest, genuine or fake, similar to those in families or between individuals. If a community has developed negative relationships as its main mode of operating then factionalism and jealousy can become rampant. Healing these divisions will take time, but it is an essential part of positive change and community development.
The teachings emphasize the growing ability to see outward and examine the external view - to learn, to critique, to analyze. The lesson of duality teaches, the community must turn the view back to themselves as if with a mirror. Self-examination is constantly balanced, when decreasing blocks such as blaming, dependency, envy, jealousy, racism and sexism within communities.
Interconnectedness and interdependence have been cited as a profound aspect of Algonquin beliefs and philosophy. When we examine nation development - nation building - we must focus on the interconnection of all development. The individuals, the families, the communities add up to the concept of a nation but we must be careful not to see this as a linear concept. Nations interact with each other causing dynamic interaction.
The national viewpoint of a people encompasses societal beliefs, myths, and laws. The teachings tell us that development of this kind must be inundated with traditional values such as respect and humility to balance the power and control of leadership. Once again, the process of looking into the mirror to clearly see the nation, the leadership, the social beliefs is stressed. Justice is a critical consideration, opportunity for development is essential, and agreements must be honored. Everyone who makes up a nation must have the right to these basics and be able to challenge the social paradigm. When nation building is accomplished through the traditional teachings and values, the possibility of moving toward positive actualization may be realized.
Vision has great medicine - great power. Vision sees beyond the ordinary, and balances the seen and the unseen. To be a visionary in development requires:
• Examining individual, family, and community for the invisible patterns that make up the current way of life;
• Understanding where these patterns came from and examining how these patterns became part of daily life;
• Opening up all possibilities. Envisioning these possibilities and accepting many things as mirrors reflecting to us what is possible. The mirrors come in the shape of spiritual teachings, elders, friends, and nature;
• Acquiring the knowledge, skills, and values needed to put into practice these possibilities. Determination along with patience is necessary to achieve lasting development.
An Elder's responsibility with other family members will necessitate the involvement in discipline. The Elders are keenly aware that social disorder and lack of harmony evolves from the erosion of cultural values in family and community structures. They also know that to maintain those values and structures requires discipline.
Traditional discipline requires a commitment to the Aboriginal way of life. It requires behaving in a way that is respectful of the traditional teachings, and to make efforts to live each day in a way that enhances our relationships to the Creator, to Mother Earth, to each other and to ourselves. Elder's support with children, young people and adults will help them to address their insecurities and animosities. The Elders will teach balance in emotions, behaviors, thinking and spirituality through traditional discipline.
Elders, however, do not lose touch with joy, laughter and playfulness. In their own search for life's meaning they recognize the need for balance between seriousness and joyfulness. They believe humor, teasing, joking and laughter assists others to keep life's issues in perspective. The relationship of small children and Elders is a special one in this regard. They know they are soon to return to the "Spirit World" and that young children had recently come from the "Spirit World", and they are together - nearly at the same point.
Elders also possess specialized, individual gifts and these special attributes may have been acquired through visionary experiences or through training but most likely a combination of both. Some Elders may carry the responsibility to keeping the history of their people through the oral stories they have been told while others have been trained all their lives in medicine and healing.
A main role of Elders is teaching. One reason for their ability share with people who seek their teachings is that they see themselves as learners. Elders often express that they are just learning themselves and are aware that to completely understand and world in all its complexity is beyond human capacity. For some, Elders have been part of their upbringing but for many others this has not been the case. The oppression and racism of the past century has left many individuals, families and communities with deep psychological and spiritual wounds. The destructive forces have corroded family and community values.
When reaching out to Elders, there is a proper protocol to use when we are requesting help from an Elder. We offer tobacco, a cigarette or a package or pouch depending on what you can afford. This offering has special significance that an Elder will explain if you ask them. Elders are the spiritual messengers who will guide our community toward renewed strength, pride and hope for balanced lives.
In the Algonquin society, Elders play a prominent, vital and respected role. The Elders shared wise counsel, advice, and guidance about maintaining harmony and balance in the community. They provide wisdom to daily life and bring order to chaos and are considered the `teachers of culture, heritage, survival and strength'.
Elders today endure many hardships; however, through their spiritual and personal strength, their commitment to their language, culture, and people have sustained their important role in the community. However, for this role to thrive they must continue to have a prominent role in our communities.
Spirituality of Elders
Most Elders are deeply spiritual in nature and everything in their life has spiritual significance, the day-to-day activities, their thoughts and actions, their relationships. They are the models by which their people see spirituality being lived. They make great effort every day to live by principles, values and teachings that they are entrusted. To learn and experience the ceremonies we must go to the Elders and ask for their help and guidance for it is an essential part of their role to teach and share.
Elders' lives are centered in the natural world and the earth is their mother and they are committed to it in consciousness and instinct. The attachment to the natural world grows with age and the "old ones" will sit upon the earth when possible to be closer to its life giving forces. The rhythms of the earth, the sounds of the wind and water, the smells of earth and air, the warmth of fire, the purification of rain, all reaffirm the kinship that the Elders experience on mother earth. Elders help others to understand and experience the great lessons from the natural world. Elders teach those that do not respect mother earth become hard and lack respect for growing, living things that eventually leads to lack of respect for humans.
Through the Elder's depth of understanding concerning the association of all earthly beings, they further teach us of the importance of kinship within our extended families. The wisdom has been so greatly respected that Elders are sought out to support and maintain harmony within the family. Their efforts have defended the significance of family values through example and Elders assume more and more responsibility for the care of their family's well-being. Presently, as some families move farther apart it is not unusual for an Elder to travel a great deal to visit and attend to family or community matters.
For further information about the program please drop by the Health Centre or contact
Tel: 819-723-2260 ext. 152