We have just returned from an inaugural cross-cultural and transformative learning experience at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior, Ontario. It was called Kendaasawin (kenDAWsawin) – how we learn who we are – using teachings on life’s stages and a learning circle where each person shares. It was organized by the Kateri Native Ministry of Ottawa.

The sacred fire was tended to all weekend

Knowledge keeper elder John Rice from Parry Sound, ON provided the bulk of the teachings and had us in stitches many times with his humorous stories about the stages of our life journey and respect for the land, our ancestors and ourselves. There was much coversation, music, singing, drumming and group dancing. Galilee provided superb hospitality. We had a wonderful closing Eucharist celebrated by both diocesan and religious RC priests.

The group was very diverse – young people, not so young people, indigenous and non-indigenous, male/female, extroverted/introverted. clergy and lay people. The event was over subscribed and several people were turned away.

We learned some words in Ojibway – miigwich gitchi-manitoo – thank you great spirit. We relearned that our ancestors as well as our parents have helped shape who we are. We experienced the power and emotion of the indigenous learning circle, an experience we do not use use as often in non-indigenous learning events. We discovered that we are all the same – indigenous/non indigenous. Wow, what a gift!

It was a small step toward reconciliation, something concrete in learning more about indigenous culture and spirituality. Thank you Donna Naughton of Kateri Native Ministries, John Rice of Feather Keepers: Leadership for Life Promotion, Gerry Kelly of Galilee Centre as well as the others who helped make this a special and memorable learning experience on the road to healing and reconciliation.

If you are interested here is a link to the Miikaans Teachings that elder John took us through:,3s

Next event on our reconciliation learning journey is online on Oct 31: Healing in All Directions: Stories of Reconciliation with Sr. Eva Solomon, CSJ

Happy Thanksgiving! Minawaanigwad miigwechiwi-giizhigad!

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