My First Pipe

28 years ago I participated in my first ever 4-day, 4-night fasting ceremony. I travelled a long way for it, right up to Thunder Bay, Ontario. There was a spiritual twitch deep inside my soul at the time, telling me how important it was that I discover the healing benefits of the fasting ceremony. I would have travelled clear across the country to experience it if I had to.

Upon arrival to the ceremonial site I saw that a sacred fire had already been ignited but also observed that not enough wood was on hand to keep the fire burning for the duration of the fasting time. The fasters were told by the elder’s helper, before he departed the ceremonial site that a truck would be bringing wood soon, assuring the fire would continue to be well fed. The next day with no sign of more wood being delivered to the site, I took it upon myself to draw dried branches from the forest to the circle of the sacred fire. It was good that I did so because the truck delivering wood didn’t arrive until the morning of the fourth day of the fast. There were over twenty people taking part in the fasting ceremony but to my recollection, no one else helped me in bringing wood to the fire. I had laboured without food or water for two days and at the end, I was so exhausted and drained of energy that I was on the verge of physical collapse.

When the elder (Walter Linklater) arrived to complete the fast with a purification lodge ceremony, he approached me and said, “before your return to Ottawa, stop by my house.” When I did so he presented me with a chunk of red pipe stone. It was his way of expressing his gratitude to the person who had kept the fire going.

Years later (1996) I met and befriended Bobby Woods (Lame Buffalo) who was an internationally recognized elder. Bobby, out of respect for me (so he said), carved the piece of pipe stone into a pipe bowl. This was not something I requested he do, it was something he offered. Then in about 2002, another elder (Curtis Hopkins) directed that it would be fitting for me to carve my own pipe stem. By coincidence, my friend Arnold Saulteaux had just presented me with a short piece of dry tamarack. I carved the tamarack into a stem and turned it over to an Algonquin friend (Solomon Wawatie) who slowly burnt a hole through it in a traditional fashion. I was instructed by yet another elder (Raymond Ballantyne) to place the pipe ‘on the land’ for 4 days and nights, allowing the pipe to get acquainted with ‘All Our Relations’ before it would be raised in ceremony.

So, very solemnly, I did as elder Ballantyne instructed. On the dawn of the first day, I placed the pipe on the branches of a spruce tree in Gatineau Park. As it turned out it was in the dead of winter that I did so. The days passed with thoughts of the pipe constantly on my mind. Before dawn of the fourth day I made my way to the spruce tree in the bitter cold, to retrieve the pipe. Around me, the trees cracked loudly, their sap not being able to withstand the freezing temperature without protest. The oxygen in the frozen snow crunched and squished as it was forced out of its bed by the weight of my steps. The wind I breathed into my body froze my lungs only to emerge from my mouth as puffs of white fog which disappeared quickly into the clear motionless dawn. A perfect day, a perfect season, a perfect time to begin a spiritual journey I thought as I lifted the pipe from the embrace of the spruce. The pipe is in my sacred bundle. I light it in ceremony for my family, community and nation. It gives me strength and guides my deeds and actions.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Logo Creation

Kwey to all,

I recently received a call from Child Welfare League of Canada who inquired if I was aware of an artist who could develop a logo for a group, consisting of several organizations who work for the emotional and physical wellbeing of Indigenous families. I asked if I could give the logo design a whirl. They agreed!

The design I created came easy for me. It features a family of five, sitting in the security and comfort of their own fire. The people around the fire are not recognizable as First Nations, Inuit or Métis but are whoever you wish them to be. Other details are attached to the design. I hope you like it. My client did and it is now officially on their letterhead. I must admit, I’m kinda proud!

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Desecration of Sacred Items by Ottawa Police Service

Here are two letters, one from Kyrstin Dumont and myself, the other one from Pikwakanagan Chief Wendy Jocko:

Dear Chief Sloly, Mayor Jim Watson, City Manager Kanellakos, OC Transpo General Manager John Manconi, and Councillor Diane Deans,

We write to make you aware that we strongly condemn the actions taken by the Ottawa Police Service on Saturday at 3:30 am against a group of peaceful Indigenous, Black, and allied protesters. A promise had been made to the protesters that a meeting would occur (10 am) with the City politicians and other individuals who, if things went as hoped for (by all involved), could have persuaded the protesters to remove themselves from their camp. Instead of a meeting, a betrayal took place. No dialogue, just arrests by a massive group of police, assisted by OC Transpo and City employees and vehicles.

What is extremely disheartening to us is the fact that sacred objects at the protest camp were seized by City employees and the police. Only some of these items were returned. Those that were returned were piled outside of 29 Hurdman, mixed in with garbage and filth, and volunteers had to sift through everything for two hours during a snowstorm to recover them. These items included a sacred grandfather drum, medicines and hand drum. 

Why did you not bring in an elder/spiritual advisor or knowledge keeper to receive the sacred items when the officers discovered them at the site? Why did the police liaisons appear to have no knowledge of Indigenous people or culture or protest? The items could then have been respectfully cared for by an Elder until the objects could be returned safe and sound to the person entrusted to protect them at the protest camp. Our sacred items are held in the highest respect possible by our People. No one has a right to touch them unless permission to do so has been granted by the person from whose sacred bundle the items came from. Even in a maximum security prison, guards have no right to put their hands on the spiritual medicines such as sweetgrass and cedar kept in the cell of an offender for the sake of healing. These sacred items are removed from the cell of an Indigenous inmate by Elders on contract with Correctional Services Canada before a search occurs. Your police officers have once again crossed a line. Forgiveness for doing so will not come easy.

We want to know if you have at the Police Service, a person knowledgeable with our Indigenous spiritual beliefs. An Indigenous spiritual advisor should have been consulted before the camp was attacked. Why did this not occur?

Signed:
Albert Dumont
Kyrstin Dumont

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Virtual Book Launch – Grandpa’s Wisdom – An Algonquin Reflection on West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease

Kwey dear friends,

Many of you are probably aware that I have recently released a new book for young readers. The book is already available for purchase on my website: http://albertdumont.com/books/grandpas-wisdom-an-algonquin-reflection-on-west-nile-virus-and-lyme-disease/. You can view a copy on the Ottawa Public Health website: https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public-health-topics/resources/Documents/WNV-Lyme-Story-Book.pdf

“Grandpa’s Wisdom – An Algonquin Reflection on West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease” tells the story of Mahìngan, a young Algonquin boy who reaches out to his Mishòmis (grandpa) for guidance after knowledge of West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease come to his attention at school. Grandpa and Mahìngan spend a day together at the elder’s hunting cabin where the youngster’s fear of the insect carrying sickness is greatly diminished through the power of the old man’s teachings. Mishòmis also offers Mahìngan teachings on the value of insects and their role in nature’s life cycle. The story promotes culture, identity and why common sense should be present in all we do.

I am asking that you attend the virtual launch of my new book. Please be confident that it will be fun and entertaining. 

On November 29 at 7 pm I will speak to you about how the story came about and also reflect on the healing medicines we as human beings can access in any forest.

The book will be available for sale at the launch for anyone wanting to add my story to their book shelves.

Looking forward to talking to all of you on November 29.

All the best,

South Wind

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Autumn, a Time for Deep Thinking

partridge

It’s been a long time now since I stepped onto the leaf-covered forest floor of mid-fall to hunt partridge. Years ago, after the Whitefish Moon (September-October) appeared in the sky, I would begin to salivate in anticipation of feasting once more on soup made with fresh partridge or I’d drool like a hound at the thought of placing pieces of salt pork over a grouse laying in the centre of a bean-filled cast iron crock. Baked beans and partridge flesh can’t possibly taste better than they do after they have slowly cooked together in the same pot for 6 or 7 hours. Finding them on your dinner plate as part of the main course is an experience of fine dining (trapline eating, that is) Algonquins are often blessed to have.

The fall of the year, with its chilly gusts of wind sweeping crackling leaves through gullies and ravines, is a time for older individuals such as myself to ponder matters connected to end of life duties. The careful crafting demanded in the writing of a will is a fine example. Death will eventually claim us all. Be sensible and prepare a will! To me, there is nothing more emotionally uplifting than going for a long walk on an ancient bush road in the autumn time of the year to deal with the wrongs of my past and express words of contrition to those I’ve hurt. The bug season has come and gone when October rolls around, you are free to take in the energy of the forest and feel the caress of its spirit without being tormented by all manner of bloodthirsty flies. The song birds have pretty much all flown south by mid-October, leaving only chickadees and blue jays to delight us and bring smiles to our faces. Hardy birds are called upon by the Good Spirit to offer us teachings to help guide our way. The geese as an example, who remind us of their spring teaching that proper ‘communication and leadership’ is the medicine bringing wellness again after conflict has come into our lives. The partridge too, is regarded as a healer and as a bird who carries much in the way of spiritual substance. Their teachings are about courage found in the heart of oneself, respect for the environment and truth to our duty to the future generations. The partridge is often found in an area of the forest where poplars and birch trees grow. It is a bird that seems to prefer to walk from point A to point B. And though he is a bird whose plumage is the colour of the forest floor when covered with decaying leaves, a sharp eye (like mine) can find him as he walks along. The partridge becomes one with the rusty leaves he walks upon in the fall of the year but yet, as a hunter he didn’t have much of a chance when I was looking for game.

In the past, I could bag 3 or 4, sometimes as many as 5 while walking 10 kilometres on a bush road. But alas, my hunting days are behind me. I haven’t fired a gun at a bird in over 15 years and have no wish to do so ever again. The partridge I once hunted comes to me now in my dreams to deliver messages connected to my spiritual beliefs. When he does so, I pay attention. The partridge is a spirit helper of mine. I have faith in his wise councils and can tell you that the autumn time of year is when this little bird, hardly two pounds in weight, fills me with purpose and devotion to the present and to the future. Autumn, though it is not my birth season, I love it as much as if it were.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Our Young Leaders, They Guide our Path

The springtime of your life begins with your first breath of life being taken as a helpless newborn baby and then travels onward to those relatively carefree preteen years of early childhood. And on the journey goes into those often rebellious, formative teenage years and with that the springtime of your life comes to a close. It is hoped by Creator that all of us will come to taste and savour the four seasons of life. Spring, for human beings is their time of discovery and the seeking out of life-altering experiences.

The springtime of my own life contains memories I should not have to be burdened with in my 70th year of life but still the past often returns to haunt me. ‘Racism’ is such an ugly thing to experience.

I recall very vividly at age 10 that the seeds of the dysfunction which came into full fruition in my early teen years, were sown in a poisonous soil farmed by people with hate-filled hearts. At 10, I had a clear appreciation of what defines ‘justice’. I saw it through the lens of an Algonquin child trying to find normalcy in a world where all people of the village I lived in, aside from my family, were all white people. Thank goodness that most of the people of the community were open-minded and accommodating but sadly, there were others too, who would have preferred that we had chosen to live elsewhere after my family left the  Algonquin reserve of Kitigan Zibi in 1956. Some of them shouted, “Go back where you came from, you damn Indians,” when my father was away at his worksite. In school, I quickly noticed that children of a different skin colour than mine seemed to be more entitled to being treated fairly than I was. The ‘strap’ stung my hands on far too many occasions where the white child guilty of misdeeds was only warned of it. I didn’t like being treated unfairly nor was I happy about the way history books portrayed my ancestors so I, at 10 years of age, rebelled with much fury. Let there be no doubt, for a while I was out of control! I had no ‘elder’ or spiritual advisor to turn to, I had no role model to guide my way. I learned at that time that the bite of racism sinks ever deeper into the soul when you are defenceless against it and that its wound can fester, following you even into the winter of your time.

Today, because I am acutely aware of the emotional upset which can occur for a human being, taking his/her first steps as a curious and adventure seeking teen, I take action when I can. I go into classrooms of 10, 11 and 12 year old students bringing teachings and stories with me I know will prepare these youngsters for their fast approaching teenage years. Our preteen young people need to be emotionally and spiritually equipped to say ‘no’ to things destructive to their health and wellbeing. They must be taught in a good way, that addictions to alcohol, drugs and other vices can begin in the life of a 14 or 15 year old.

There’s a story I tell them, a memory of mine from the summer of 1960 when I was 10 years old. The mischievous spirit alive in many boys of that age came to its fore on a day which found me bored silly. A trick, I thought, would break the boredom. I tied one end of a short piece of string to a bright red apple and tightly secured the other end of it to a branch of the small oak tree which stood perhaps 20 feet from the front door of my grandparents’ house in Maniwaki, Québec. My plan was that my grandparents would believe the apple had somehow, miraculously grown on their little oak tree while the hours of the night were passing by. The trick fooled my grandpa who actually believed upon seeing the apple on the branch of the oak that ‘God’ had placed it there as some kind of sacred sign for him alone. My grandmother though knew immediately that a trick was being played on them by a mischievous boy. I learned that it was impossible to fool my grandmother.

I tell the story of the apple and the oak tree to preteen children to make a point. Sure as there is life on the distant hills and sure as death will some day claim all of us, there will come a time when someone will try and fool a child after their teen years begin. If you are not ready for alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or activities against your morals and principles, “Please,” I tell kids, “don’t let anyone fool you into believing that you are ready.” I tell the children not to be like my grandpa who could be fooled into believing that an apple could grow on the branch of an oak tree. “Be like my grandma,” I say, “she could not be fooled.” Children learn from stories, especially Indigenous children, it’s our way, storytelling is embedded deep into our ancient culture.

I’m a person who very much appreciates that the memories of the family line, the good and the bad, should be carefully compiled and stored away. There is no doubt that these sacred family archives will be looked upon as the greatest of treasures to our generations not yet born. How I wish I could read journals, letters, poems and memories experienced and written by my grandparents who I knew and loved and even their grandparents whose faces I have never even seen and get to know them intimately by doing so. In my family no such records exist. My grandparents were not educated people. So far as I am aware, there are no letters written by them to their children, no recorded view, no poem telling of joys or heartache they saw and survived. I dearly wish there was!

I think sometimes of my granddaughter Kyrstin, the oldest of my five grandchildren. She had academic learning difficulties and struggled as a student. By and by in the classroom and in the schoolyard, she was confronted with racism. Name calling from ignorant students and comments from teachers such as the one who said, while focusing his gaze upon my granddaughter, “We all know who got the lowest grade in the class,” after announcing to the students the name of the pupil who secured the highest grade of the test he had prepared for his class. Such statements weren’t helpful to her and had a negative impact on her self-esteem. Still, Kyrstin persevered, pushing forward as well as possible under the circumstances. Her ability to self-motivate and embrace the pride she has in her people has served her well. Kyrstin is recognized today as a community leader, having recently won the ‘June Girvan Youth In Service Award’.

She is a gifted speaker who is much sought after by groups and organizations for her perspectives on the health and wellbeing of citizens of her age group.

It is my hope that she will document her experiences for instalment into the family archives. She might have had problems with reading and writing as a grade school student but she shines today academically and has a special way with words. I am so very proud of her.

I close by making a heartfelt request. On September 30, Orange Shirt Day, I ask that you dedicate at least an hour of your time towards doing something you see as taking a stand against racism. The dreadful and shameful ‘Indian Act’ is on its way out. The Residential Schools no longer exist. It’s time to heal.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Sir John A. Macdonald

We, the Anishinabe, search the lifeless eyes
Of the many portraits proudly painted for Canada
To honour a man Canadians believe
Was an emblem for ‘decency, righteousness and vision’
“A hero” they say, “a Nation Builder”
But the First Peoples look upon the face
Of Sir John A. Macdonald
And see the curse, responsible
For the deaths of thousands of our children

We see in Macdonald, a man, who saw
In the whiteness of his skin, a human being equal to God
Who believed his soul
Would never be in need of cleansing
And that the goodness offered daily on Turtle Island
By the ever-present Good Spirit, who teaches us
That no human being is greater than any other
Were teachings Macdonald accepted as only created for people
Lesser than men such as himself

We look at the evil Macdonald placed into the ‘Indian Act’
And other oppressive actions perpetrated by him, against us
And ask ourselves when in meditation, if the wailing spirits
Of the thousands of Indigenous children
Who died in Macdonald’s Residential Schools
Held sacred council with him in the eternal sky
Where true justice sears the soul of the guilty
After the scalding breath of death stopped forevermore
The beating of Macdonald’s spiritually hollow heart

With ceremonial tobacco by our side, we ask
Did Macdonald’s tears flow like the spring waters of the ‘Ottawa’
When the children who died in his Residential Schools
Recounted to him the last torturous hours of their lives
Away from culture, family and the unconditional love
Of a caring human being who could hold their hand
At the moment their last breath silently took them
Back to the peaceful waters of their ancestral lands

For thousands of years
Since our creation story was first told
We called ourselves ‘The First People’
‘The People’ and ‘The Human Beings’
But to Macdonald’s parliament we were only savages
Not worthy of receiving their respect and honour

Sir John A. Macdonald, a hero to the royals of Britain
Sir John A. Macdonald, who sacrificed his soul
So that the people of Canada
Would see him always as the greatest of all men
Where does he find himself today
What words of contrition does he relay
In that empty place, where for him
The darkness of a stormy night
Will never yield to a calm and re-assuring dawn

Oh but what if it had been you
The peoples of European ancestry
Who were the first human beings of Turtle Island
And here, you lived and thrived for thousands of years
Until one day, bronze-skinned people
Arrived on your welcoming and generous shores

Oh but what if the newcomers brought with them
To your tranquil and sacred lands
Ancient wars from their former homeland
And laid before you, countless pandemics of vile disease
And through the power of generations of your oppression
Could control even your very thoughts making you believe
That the light of God was for them, always present
Even guiding their cruel deeds against you

Imagine now that today, a dark-skinned man
Was being praised for destroying all that Creator gave to you
With bronze-skinned people believing he was a noble leader
Who built a great and fair nation where yours once stood
Would you join in singing an honour song in his memory
Or would you fight with all the strength of the sun
To pull his portraits and statues down

Albert Dumont ©

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Introducing my new Grandchild

My 5th grandchild (a boy) was born on the evening of Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Many thoughts have crossed my mind, touched my heart and entered my soul since his first breath was taken. I will remember on the day of his birth that in the fields of Algonquin Territory, wild strawberries were beginning to ripen and that the wild roses along a forest treeline were in full bloom. Snapping turtles were laying their eggs in shallow-dug holes the turtle itself had excavated. There is so much more I will tell my grandson describing the moon of his birth.

I will speak to him at some point in the future about the fact that a pandemic was in the midst of changing our lives forever when his life began. I will teach him as best I can as his grandfather, the difference between common sense and nonsense, waste of life and purpose of life. I’ll reminisce with him on hot humid summer evenings about the heat wave we were caught in at the time his mom went into labour. There will be much for us to talk about, me and him, perhaps in a canoe on calm waters. The canoe is powerful medicine and I will call upon it at counselling times when my grandchildren are confused about life’s mysteries. My new grandson and I might be sitting in the bleachers at a powwow site a few years from now and we’ll speak then about strawberries and wild roses.

My new grandson is a handsome boy. He’s tiny at this time, only 18 inches long but he was born 3 weeks early, so in early July (when doctors said he would arrive) we’ll take another look at him. Regardless, I’ll love him always and offer teachings of the land to him for as long as I can. I intend to do all possible so that he will never be stricken with diabetes. I will nurture him and mentor him so that there will be less of a chance that he will fall some day to addiction and emotional misery. He will become one of my fishing buddies. Together, all my grandchildren and I will feast on the shore of the lake and offer fish, berries, wild rice and corn for the feasting circle of our ancestors and future generations.

On the day my new grandson was born, I awoke in the darkest hour of the night and saw in my yard, several fireflies. One of them left the tall grasses and came towards the window. When only a few feet from the window pane, the firefly suddenly veered away and disappeared. It was my first firefly sighting of 2020. I knew then that my grandson’s spirit name is “Brings Fire”. At a time in the near future (this week) I will go to the forest with the placenta my daughter brought home with her. And as I have done for my other grandchildren, I will mark out a circle in the forest with tobacco into which I will place the placenta. I will speak at that time to the Good Spirit about Brings Fire and what my promises are to him. He will know about fire, that which he will watch over at ceremonies and that which burns in his spirit and that of his nation. He will know the sun, the moon and stars. He will protect water as if it was his greatest treasure. My new grandson will leave his mark in a good way. I’m certain of it!

Right now, the little man prefers to live in dreamland. He sleeps constantly, offering only a small whimper or a tender twitch now and then to signal that he is also taking part in the family visit. Brings Fire wouldn’t fare very well at this time in an arm-wrestling contest. He’s not about to do a grass dance or hoop dance anytime soon, so weak he is at this time. But he’ll grow! He is a pure human being now, without any wrongs to interrupt his sleep time. If it was up to me, he would not be baptized. There are no sins weighing him down. Let him make up his own mind about the definition of spirituality when he comes of age. If he chooses in the future to become a Christian, a Muslim or whatever else offered by a religion, then so be it. I’ll honour the choice he makes no matter what it is.

May he grow into a strong wise man who will be honourable and dedicated to the wellness of the Algonquin Nation and to all other Peoples of Indigenous bloodlines. This is my prayer, not only for him but also for all my grandchildren and yes, for all Algonquin children still now in their time of innocence.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Police Brutality Against First Nations

In my entire life, and I am not a young man, I have never seen an SQ (Sûreté du Québec) police officer who was not white. From my years growing up in Pontiac County to my present day life at Kitigan Zibi, I have yet to see the face of the Anishinabe, or that of any other person of colour (Black, Asian and others) on a provincial police officer for the Province of Québec. It seems to me that dark-skinned folks from a culture different than the Québecois are not very welcome among the ranks of the Québec police service. Something needs to be done about it.

Recently in New Brunswick, Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi were shot dead by RCMP officers. Both Chantel and Rodney were First Nations citizens. Finding themselves in a state of mental depression and in a state of severe anxiety was enough for white officers to end their lives with gunfire. If the deceased had been Caucasian, both would still be alive today. When it comes to policing in Canada, guns are too quickly unholstered by white officers who find themselves in tense situations with persons of colour. All too often, it doesn’t end well for people of colour.

I worked at a maximum security prison (Millhaven, J Unit) for 3 full years. A few months after I began working there, a 29 year old inmate was shot dead by a guard. The inmates told me later that of the 6 times leading up to the inmate’s killing where guns were fired by guards, 5 out of the 6 were at Indigenous inmates. “It’s racism! Some of them are just aching to kill us,” one of the inmates said of the guards.

COVID-19 has come down on us. People have taken ill and are dying across the country because of a deadly virus. The sickness though is not taking the lives of Indigenous people to the degree that the guns of white-skinned police officers are killing them. Police gunfire is a pandemic against us unto itself.

What needs to be explained to me is why is it that police services on reserves such as Kitigan Zibi have never killed one of their community’s members. Seldom is a gun pulled out of its holster by a Reserve police officer. De-escalation tactics are used on the Rez and when interaction between cops and citizens occur, no one ends up filled with lead. If Reserve police officers can do their work without shooting people to death, then why can’t coppers in Manitoba or New Brunswick do the same?

In my heart there is an ever-present spiritual mist. It lingers there until such a time where situations of life touch me in the emotional domain. The mist, at that time, travels from my heart to my eyes. It appeared there once again when I saw the face of Chantel Moore who came to her death through police gunfire. Chantel was not a dangerous enemy of the state. Her only crime was being Indigenous and suffering mental distress.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind (Albert Dumont).

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The Tree of my Mind’s Eye

When I was young (it seems to me, not all that long ago) I imagined in a barren field, a leafless tree. It looked lonely and desolate like a forgotten teaching, rhyme nor purpose now non-existent, a death of sorts, forced upon it by an uncaring society. In my mind’s eye I allowed that in the future, each time I did something selfless or went out of my way to help a friend or neighbour, a leaf would grow on the branch of the tree. Each time I volunteered at the homeless shelter, each time I said a solemn prayer, I saw that for every good deed I performed, a leaf was added to the tree of my vision. The tree I see today has many branches, but alas, too many of the tree’s limbs are still empty. I feel I should have done more to add to the tree’s beauty, for when my life comes to an end at some undetermined time in the future, I expect to sit then in circle by that tree to smoke the sacred calumet with my noble ancestors. Them, who held true to their spiritual beliefs given them by Creator at that time when human beings took their first steps upon Turtle Island; my relatives will either question why the tree of my mind’s eye has so few leaves or they will heap praise on me because of the majestic beauty the many leaves (my good deeds) lend to the tree, offering shade for our circle.

Today, a virus is severely disrupting our lives, yet when I look up into the sky, I see that the clouds are few and small. The sky this day is three shades of blue: dark, medium and rare I could say. The sun is free to shine and warm my face. The grass, tanned by last autumn’s winds, is quickly being painted green now with the re-invigorating breath of spring spreading on it like the brush of a grand artist. A raven chuckles, a robin sings. The pines around my house (I’m surrounded) dance and give the appearance of Anishinabe women lifting one foot after the other off the sandy floor, their deerhide skirts swaying gently. It’s all extremely mesmerizing! I offer tobacco that it is so.

An old friend whom I admire very much called a few minutes ago to reassure me that good health has returned to her. I was concerned and am grateful that I no longer need to be. Another blessing to be sure. I close my phone and take note that Patsy Cline is singing on my radio, “Take these chains from my heart,” she croons, “and set me free.” I feel free today, like the happy raven I soar on the wind.

Since COVID-19 has forced me into isolation, I have had a lot of time to spare. I’m doing things that were impossible for me to do pre-COVID. When it’s all over I expect to have the best skin colour I’ve had since the carefree days of my pre-teen life (yeah, I love sun bathing), which seems yes, a long, long time ago.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind (Albert Dumont).

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