Annual Fall Harvest event celebrates First Nation culture
It was a time to honour the season.
The annual and popular event that celebrates the harvest from the summer crops was held at Lakehead University, Sept. 14.
Hundreds of attending guests learned about the Anishinaabe people’s Thanksgiving of September, when a full harvest of items like berry fruits, wild rice grains, hazelnut nuts, and pickerel fish, goose, small game and herbal medicines and teas are gathered and all living things are thanked for sacrificing themselves.
The event is put on by the Lakehead University Aboriginal Initiatives and Aboriginal Cultural and Support Services.
Elders and community members demonstrated and taught visitors about moccasin making, beadwork, tee-pee making, fish smoking, sacred medicine collecting, hide tanning, and wild rice harvesting, curing and parching, bannock making and fishing practices throughout the day.
Helen Pelletier a beadwork demonstrator said, “It’s a good way for students and the community to get orientated with our culture.”
People tasted delicious bannock, wild rice stew and fish samples and enjoyed a variety of family activity stations. The festival provided an opportunity to show some of the regional Anishinaabe traditional way of life and to promote culture understanding in a supportive environment.
Brian Stevenson, president and vice-chancellor of Lakehead University attended the event for the last four years with his wife and daughters.
“The first thing I really like is the aboriginal community. Many of the students and faculty on the campus come and participate here,” he said. “It’s a time to come together and celebrate First Nation culture and history and to learn about the kinds of food and how food has been prepared and other cultural activities. It brings the whole community together and that is the part I like the most.”
Stevenson said the harvest is a great meeting place to learn about and celebrate aboriginal culture.
“This event has always been successful because we always invite new students to come. There are a number of new students here learning about our aboriginal peoples here in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario. It’s successful because it brings people together. It celebrates the coming fall and the harvest.”
Elder Freda MacDonald gave the opening prayer which was followed by a welcoming greeting by Stevenson and Yolanda Wanakamik, aboriginal outreach/recruitment worker on behalf of Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux the Vice-Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives).
Fall harvest festivals often include games, dancing, and food celebration and drum circles. The Thunder Mountain Singers were the guest drum group of the day.
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