Kwewag: In Honour of Women

G’zhemnidoo has blessed Creation with so many fine gifts. Of all the gifts from the Spirit, the gift of life is the most precious. The source of this life is the breath of the Creator himself. However, the vessel of life is our mothers.
Shkakamik-kwe, our Mother Earth, provides us with all the necessities of life in this physical realm. Her vessel is full of bounty and nourishment, she also is the vessel that holds the sacred water which is forever flowing from the Spirit World.
However, even our own lives as human beings come from the most sacred of lifegiving vessels: Kwewag – our Women.
How do I honour women? That’s an important question we can all ask ourselves. Each answer is so very personal.
I honour women by Loving and respecting my Mother, my Daughter, my Grandmother, my Aunties, my Sister, my Neices and all those Anishinabe-kwe that touch me personally everyday of my life. I honour my upbringing.
I honour women by acknowledging my role as Anishinabe-inini and as ogitchidaa. I pledge my entire life to be kind and gentle, to keep my family safe, free from alcohol and drugs, free from violence, to be a role model, and to make our community a better place to live. In a nutshell that is my personal “vision statement” and my raison d’etre.
I honour women by honouring life and thanking our Creator. To me life is so completely amazing. Not a day goes by when I’m not amazed and positively overwhelmed by Creation. I’m writing this at 19,000 ft above Lake Superior on a Bearskin Airlines flight. A few years back I actually took flight training because of the amazing feeling of life as a pilot. It still stops my breath to be up here.
I put down tobacco, not everyday but almost everyday.
I say miigwetch to the Creator several times a day. “Miigwetch Gzhemnidoo”. If you’re observant you can often see me life my Diet Coke up to the Spirit in a happy nod of thanks.
I honour the water and the water teachings of our women. Whenever I use my pipe, I always have a copper cup filled with Midewaaboo and I try to sing a water song to acknowledge the spirit of women. I take a drink and thank the Spirit. Nobody knows this except my closest friends and family members. Now you know.
I walked with the Women’s Water Walk this year. I carried the eagle staff in supporting my Auntie Josephine Mandamin, who is also the Executive Director of the Ontario Native Womens Association. I walked long and hard, mile after mile in honour of the water and our women. I relished in the pain, blisters and soreness.
Every spring, around this time I share in our women’s Full Moon ceremony during spring breakup in a ceremony called N’wewebmigewin. I offer cloth, stones and food to the water and bring fire to the women.
I respect that powerful moon time and the medicine our women carry.
I honour woman by taking care of my children. I Love them more than anything else and will never leave them. That Love is unconditional and is sacred. I keep them safe and take an active role in raising them. I’ve changed hundreds of diapers, and sung my babies to sleep each with their own song (Daddy’s Girl, Grandma’s Little Grandboy, Abiigwe).
I honour their beautiful Mother by being her close friend and by supporting her the best way I can. I Love her for giving me the most precious gift a man can possibly have – my children. Miigwetch Arnya.
I honour their Mother and my children through my financial responsibility. I have never missed a single child support payment and never been late with one. I’m militant about that. They are very well taken care of and I don’t regret a single dollar that goes to our lil’ angels. I try to provide over and above that too. Mom and I are going halfsies on a brand new grass dance outfit for Miigwans. I’m so proud that he’s going to dance.
As a parent of a beautiful daughter, I honour her by providing her with the teachings of our people through the Midewiwin Lodge. In the summer, I bring her every weekend to knowledgeable women who carry the women’s teachings. She has a drum and she loves drum circles. I’ll sit on the outside and listen to her from afar while she sings on her handmade drum. She makes me so proud and happy. I will be bringing her to a Grandmother when the time comes to gently encourage her to do her berry fast as she becomes a woman. Of all women, my daughter – my Princess, means the most to me.
In my dating life, I honour women by respecting her boundaries, making her feel safe and treating her very, very well. I honour Creation and my own Spirit by not being promiscuous and only being intimate with those few women I care for and who care for me.
Now days, I offer tobacco that I may find THE ONE partner for me to Love. I am holding out for just the right Anishinabe-kwe. I’m looking so forward to that time we can finally be together.
I always capitalize the word Love.
I honour women through my own Spirit. I think I’m different from many other guys. I’m not a tough guy even though I’m 6’3 and built like a WWE wrestler. I’m repulsed by the male stereotype and machoism. I’m not afraid to show and express my feelings and emotions. I’m not into trucks, ATVs or changing my own car oil. I don’t have a tool shed, and don’t really know how to do fix-it stuff. I’m not some great hunter of game and have never gutted my own moose. I have way more female friends than male friends and yes, I prefer their company.
How did I honour women today? It just so happens that I met with the Robinson Superior Women’s Council and offered them my assistance, advice and support. I was honoured to meet both Norma Fawcett and Marlene Pierre to work with them to establish their Council and meet their goals. They want to work on health, citizenship, matrimonial property issues, child welfare, and family violence. We shared laughs and warm hugs. Tomorrow, I’ll be meeting with Bonnie Bresette and Donna Debassige of the Anishinabek Nation Women’s Council to further support this new women’s group.
Last night, I sat down to dinner with Chief Veronica Waboose. We shared teachings, stories and spiritual experiences. She talked about her role as a woman and her role as a Chief as her community of Long Lake #58 is going through a very tough time with prescription drug abuse. Tears filled my eyes to see her determination as she told me her story of setting her future political agenda from a simple visit of two little girls in her office.
This week I received a phone call from a friend, who checked into a detox centre. She wanted support and a caring friend to talk to as she is going through withdrawals of prescription drug abuse. Sadly, I was only able to talk to her twice. But I called every day anyway. I spent a great deal of time praying for her and I put down my tobacco.
I’m also only human. For those women I have dishonoured, I ask for your forgiveness and your friendship.
I Love all women, and honour them with every fibre of my being. I honour them by honouring life and Love. I offer my servitude as Anishinabe-inini and extending that balance in Creation. I honour our children and that incredible gift to create, carry and nourish life itself.

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