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 statutes down

Albert Dumont ©

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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)

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

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).

Posted in Community, Idle No More | Leave a comment

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).

Posted in Community, Spirituality | 1 Comment

Spring – Let us honour it, regardless of COVID-19

It is a spring like no other I have lived through in my almost 70 years of life. A virus (COVID-19) is travelling like a poisonous fog into our villages, towns and cities. It seems that unless we are careful and sensible, someone or even many among our family, friends and neighbours could be stricken with a virus which can potentially be deadly. Human beings are on their guard; some, understandably, have been overcome with fear and anxiety. Thoughts of self-preservation are entering the minds of those among us who have lost faith in their spiritual beliefs and are now hoarding items from stores, not caring that others, neighbours included, might be left short. It is the way of a vastly imperfect world.

In the forest, life is unfolding this spring season as it has in all years past. I hear the voices of ravens and crows, calling out to declare a territory as their own. The deer are once again grazing in open fields. The songs of robins, cardinals and red-winged blackbirds fill the woods behind my log house, placing into the passing breeze, a serene calmness and a reinvigorated sense of hope.

From my balcony, I draw in a deep breath to taste the season and refresh my belief that spring represents the opportunity to start over – it is after all the season when my sobriety began. I look into the heart of the forest and see that the pines somehow seem greater to me this spring. They stand like an army of powerful guardians on the distant horizon to which all other trees of the forest send forth their respect and honour. The birch, maple, balsam and all tree beings in this place of unexplainable mystery are aware of what the pines bring to the land in the way of spirit and peaceful tranquility. The trees of the forest know that Creator’s blessings upon them are everlasting.

The snow slowly melts and I walk in it without footwear. My footprints reveal how weak and small I really am on this wondrous planet onto which we make our home. It brings me to a place of profound humility and I question my right to breathe the purity of the wind I feel this day. The touch of human beings upon the land has been so utterly destructive. I feel shame. And I ask, “What will be left for my grandchildren’s grandchildren?”

A good and wise friend of mine once told me, “human beings are ugly but everything else of Creator’s making is beautiful.” It is in the spring that we truly see the spiritual wonders of Creator. The stirring soil holding the roots of the great trees tightly – so that the tree can stand and send oxygen into the wind – is seen by us as old but age has not slowed the land’s vigour and energy. The earth produces what she is directed to by her allies and guides, the moon, fire, waters and the winds.

The springtime of the year reminds us that we, the people living on the planet at this time are duty-bound, through the teachings passed on to us by our ancestors, to do all we can to ensure health and wellness for those things whose absence would spell the end of humankind.

We will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Influenza is not what will wipe us out. What can and will kill us is the pollution we heap daily on Mother Earth. When we kill water, we kill ourselves. Each day we would do well to remind ourselves of this fact, maybe then we might finally understand what it means to do what is right, regarding the health of water.

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

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Humour can still be found: even during a Pandemic

Dropped into a corner store today to purchase ‘The Citizen’ and was immensely impressed to see that the shop owner had hired a local to wipe things down in his little store. The employee held a cloth in one hand, a spray bottle on the ready in the other and was doing a fine job of generously spraying and then cleaning with gusto, doors, lids, countertops and display shelves etc. “You’re doing a great job,” I told him, “I’m going to recommend you for a raise.” “Thank you, sir,” responded the young man. Just as we were sharing a chuckle, the store owner was handing me my change (a 5 Dollar bill and coins). “Did you clean the money?” I asked the young lad. “No,” he answered. “I didn’t think to do that.” “Well,” I laughed, “if you do it, don’t let the coppers catch you doing it or your boss will be charged with money laundering.”

I see that the “Chocolatier” in Gracefield, QC still had his ‘ouvert’ sign lit up a day after only ‘essential services’ were regulated by the province to remain open. It makes sense, a lot of people are addicted to chocolate, which brings me to my next point.

Liquor stores are open for business, signalling that ‘fire water’ is accessible to the masses. Church doors are locked, telling us that ‘holy water’ is out of reach. I no longer need alcohol in my life but if I was still trapped in its deadly web, I would be grateful to have it close when I desired it. Holy water? There is hardly a time where I do not look at water and see something truly holy, truly sacred. Water is medicine!

I recently saw two teens, crouched down, searching the pavement, not for a miniature lost item and not for discarded cigarette butts. The youngsters were hoping to find ‘roaches’ (marijuana joints) thrown away from a space where young workers gathered, before their shift began or after it ended. The roaches the teens hoped to find would possibly supply enough pot for a joint of their own. This during a time when a highly contagious sickness is swallowing up the winds! So sad but true. It isn’t all that funny, is it?

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

Posted in Community, Spirituality | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Coronavirus, Let’s be Sensible and Compassionate

The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed over 50 million people throughout the world’s populations. How horrific it must have been for good people back then, who watched helplessly, as a dearly loved relative, especially children, died of the flu. When I think of the Spanish Flu, my thoughts drift to the plight of the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island who experienced the despair and hopelessness brought forth by influenza pandemics, not once or twice but many, many times since contact with the settlers began over 400 years ago.

For the Indigenous Peoples, each outbreak of influenza, beginning after contact, was as deadly for us as the Spanish Flu of 1918 was for the world’s populations. For the Indigenous Peoples, it was one pandemic after the other. From the furthest points north to the furthest points south, the Americas became lands upon which millions upon millions of the Original Peoples died. Babies, youth, adults, old folks – far more died than there were those that lived.

Somehow, some of the First Peoples survived. How did they manage to do so? My belief is that only the People who held fast to their sacred connection to the land had a fighting chance of survival after the poison of influenza had attacked their immune systems. The people who saw the forest as a place of medicine and healing, lived. The plants the people gathered and trusted to bring forth healing responded and many were saved because of it. The people around them who put their trust in survival solely in the scriptures of holy books of organized religion or in the prescription handed to them by a  European trained physician to ward off the illness, fell to the virus. Is there another explanation as to why ‘all’ Indigenous Peoples did not perish?

On a starless night, I spiritually travel into the past and sit with the dead of our Indigenous bloodlines whose last days of life on this earth were days of complete and undescribable misery because of an influenza pandemic they desperately fought but did not defeat. I hear their vow to Creator, that they will defend the health and wellness of their descendants from where they (ancestors) now reside in the Spirit Land promised to all human beings who lived a life of goodness and sharing. Our ancestors, who died during the influenza outbreaks of the past, did not go from this world to one of emptiness where the souls of righteous people are left without power. Ceremony is available to them in that spiritual place where good people go and hear Honour Songs sung for them. They stand ready to help us from where they are now, we need only call to them with our drums and chants to summon their healing touch in our time of need.

If the Coronavirus infects you, place your faith and trust to recover in the spirit of the land. The Good Spirit living in the plants and trees, in the birds and animals, in the fish and totems, in the sun, the waters and the wind, can remove sickness from your being.

Just the other day I saw a T-shirt with the words ‘Ceremony is Medicine’ written across it. It is, to be sure. If you are as one with ceremony, then rest assured, the ceremony will serve you well.

Every family should have at least one member among them who can, through the force of his/her spiritual beliefs, make requests (prayer) for the benefit and safety of all other people of their bloodline. A human being with strong spiritual beliefs stands in the centre of a circle, the sacred medicines are raised up in a good way and hence, a ceremony is conducted with humility and honour, bringing success to its purpose. The Indigenous Peoples of this land must never disappear from it. If they ever did, it would surely signal the end of all mankind on Mother Earth.

I believe in intuition. My mother was very intuitive. She had a special relationship with the spirits of Dreamland and could on sight, gauge the goodness in the heart of a stranger. Her dreams predicted coming events, telling of a disaster or a crisis involving the people of her family line. The gift my mother had regarding future occurrences was passed on to some of her children. When my antennas are up, my intuitive powers never fail me. Regarding the Coronavirus, my intuition tells me that it is not the monster some folks are making it out to be. It will not do to us what the Spanish Flu did in 1918. We all need to remain calm and never lose track of our ability to be sensible and above all, compassionate.

The only way COVID-19 will grow into an uncontrollable monster is if we feed it by breaking faith with what defines us as human beings. I trust in Creator. I trust in the medicines of the trees. I trust in my ancestors. The great and sacred faith I have in these things cannot be broken.

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

Posted in Community, Spirituality | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Memories

There are memories that haunt me, I see them in my distant past and wish they had never occurred.

I Wish I Could Forget
I recall that as an innocent 6-year-old boy, hearing white people shout, “Go back to where you came from, you damn Indians” at my family after we left Kitigan Zibi in the 1950’s to live in a small Christian town in the Ottawa Valley (Algonquin Territory). Why we were not welcomed there (in our homeland of many thousands of years) by some white people has never been explained to me to this very day.

I remember how the travelling nurse, who went from school to school in the outlying areas of the Valley, would enter our classroom (at the school I attended) and shortly after doing so, comb through the hair of my siblings or me, to check for the presence of headlice. I guess in her mind, if the “Indian” children didn’t have lice, then no one else in the classroom did either.

I remember the vulgar and cruel comments made about my ancestors by many of my classmates and even by some of the teachers. It was the racism of the teachers that damaged me emotionally, and spiritually more so, than did any action of my fellow students. The most ignorant of the villagers where we lived, saw us as a dirty and savage people who had no right to be living among them, even though my parents were sober, hardworking, honest and dedicated parents, holding Christianity as their spiritual light.

I remember the violence in the taverns and bars I went to when I was a young man back in the late 60‘s and early 70’s. I often got into 2 or 3 fistfights on any given weekend. Back then, as I do today, I refuse to back away from a challenge. I no longer settle things with my fist at this stage in my life, I prefer peace brought about through communication and dialogue to ward off conflict.

I Wish I Could Remember
There are memories I wish I could recall but I cannot. The things I would like to remember are teachings of the land, the legends of the Algonquins, our folklore, our ceremonies and longhouse teachings (yes, we had longhouses too), as told to me by my dad who was a fluent Algonquin speaker. Unfortunately, my dad had no knowledge of our ancient stories and spiritual beliefs. He was a devout Christian and to him, the ways of the Algonquins of long ago served no purpose to his children in this world where dog eats dog and where the acquiring of wealth defines purpose of life. He did not pass the language on to his children, so psychologically broken was he by the power of the Indian Act.

I recall the bad part of my life as one of alcoholism, of waste, of despair, of confusion and of searching for answers in regards to spirituality. I recall putting the bottle down in the spring of 1991 and vowing to take a stand forevermore, not as a warrior but as a fighter for human rights, mine and yours and for all people of this world.

With sobriety, I finally saw the birds, animals, fish and trees in a way I had not even imagined before. I felt the warmth of a fire that I myself had kindled in such a profound way that tears flowed like rivers down my face.

I recall back then that I, at long last, took fatherhood as something great and wonderful, an opportunity to influence, shape and mold a young mind of my bloodline and prepare a human being for the wonders of this wonderful world. Finally sober and strong, I endorse role modelling and mentorship. I pray to Creator each and every dawn, requesting health and wellness for family, friends and all the people around me who may have lost their way.

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

Posted in Community, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Request to the Freezing Moon

A fire was lit, bringing spiritual warmth and physical comfort to the people standing close to its welcoming flame. Tobacco from an honourable hand was offered to its coals and the fire, at that time, became sacred. The spirits of the nearby human beings stirred when the energy produced by the fire’s sacredness reached them. With that, the ceremony began.

Friends from Ottawa travelled to my home at Kitigan Zibi on November 23. They took the time out of their busy lives to join me in prayer. And then, of course, to celebrate with a thanksgiving feast afterwards. Our purpose was to stand as one in the circular energy created by the fire and request wellness and health for our families, friends, neighbours, colleagues and the life in the nearby forest.

Many heartfelt words were spoken. The spirit of the sacred fire captured not only the truth of what was being said but also the humility, honour and respect which poured from the heart of each speaker. A young woman removed her moccasins from her feet when her time to speak occurred and stood in the snow, leaving her feet bare for all of the moments it took for her to express herself in the most eloquent manner possible. Some of the older people in the circle recognized the young woman’s action as a ritual, perhaps performed by human beings long ago, at the time of the Freezing Moon ceremony.

I remember about 30 years ago mentioning to an elder how I believed that the trees in the vicinity of our ceremonial sites must be happy when human beings acknowledge them by requesting, through prayer, wellness and vigour for the forest. “You’ve got it all wrong,” the elder stated. “It is the trees who are in constant communication with Creator requesting enlightenment for us, the People. For it is not the trees who have lost their way. It’s us.” I instantly agreed.

I love trees! I could never have been a lumberjack, especially at the time when settler lumber barons acquired untold wealth by the cutting down of the old growth forests of Algonquin Territory. No ceremony was done for the trees before they were felled. Not a word of acknowledgement was spoken for the birds, animals, snakes and so on whose sanctuaries were destroyed when their forest home violently disappeared.

Does the life of a turtle or bear have a higher measure of worth to that of a great pine tree who has lived for 400 years in the eyes of the Good Spirit? I wonder?

The circle which was conducted at my home was special for human beings. But the trees which encircle the lot where my house stands were very much part of it. Their wisdom and pureness of energy is something no human being will ever live to match. Of this I am certain.

At this spiritual time, as Mother Earth sleeps, we ponder the beginnings of our faith beliefs. We rise as one, to acknowledge the right all human beings have to embrace and love spiritual teachings they feel are filled with Creator’s blessings.

Our spiritual guides, those who arrived here with the first moon of winter, speak to us. Through them, we request a joyful and accident-free winter for all our family members, friends and also, for all the good people who make up the citizenry within the perimeters of the Algonquin Homeland.

May Creator bless you all in 2020,
South Wind (Albert Dumont).

Posted in Community, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Hawk Comes to Feast

In Ottawa on December 7, after helping out with some union work, I slowly and solemnly made my way to North River Road park to put some tobacco down beside a white birch tree. I did so to shed some heaviness I was carrying in my heart. Soon thereafter, I stopped at a nearby Loblaws store to pick up the newspaper before heading back to Kitigan Zibi. After rolling to a stop on the west side of the Loblaws parking lot, I immediately became aware of the presence of many pigeons (approximately 50) in a holly berry tree only a few short feet from where I was parked. I emerged from my Jeep and marvelled at how the small tree seemed to be pulsing with life, an illusion brought forth by the gentle nibbling of the birds feasting on the berries.

Suddenly, without warning, the pigeons rushed towards me. It was obvious to me that they were in a state of great panic. Their beating wings drummed furiously sending tiny feathers tumbling to the ground. Most of the out-of-control pigeons were only inches from the top of my head. And because of it, the energy they produced spiritually engulfed me, sending an electric-like current throughout my being. The sensation was so great, it seemed to me that I was going to topple over onto my back. Though the wind was taken out of me, I was able to see that a flash of swirling brown was moving in the midst of a blue, grey and mauve wave, created by the swiftly moving pigeons.

My eyes were locked on the brown streak until it crashed onto the pavement less than 10 feet from where I was standing. I could see then that it was a fine hawk which had brought a pigeon down and was now squeezing the last seconds of life out of the helpless smaller bird with its mighty talons. The hawk turned to look at me. “Are you going to interfere with my right to feast?” he seemed to inquire. “No not me,” I said out loud. “Bon appetit!”

The hawk began to pluck one down feather after the other from the pigeon’s breast. Every 2 or 3 seconds he stopped, to look at me to confirm that I wasn’t moving closer to his feasting table or doing something else threatening to him in any way. A crow, however, descended from the sky and swooped twice over the hawk’s head, no doubt letting all things know that he was claiming the leftovers. But the magnificent hawk totally ignored him. I stood sentry on behalf of the hawk to ward off, if I had to, any vehicle entering the lot that might not see him and run him down. Eventually, the hawk, having assured himself that his well-earned, ready-to-eat meal had no life left in it, flew off with his prey to go and consume it at, perhaps, a more romantic setting. The crow followed along. “A match made in heaven,” I thought.

There is something of enormous spiritual significance to this story that might be of interest to you. I shall share it now!

Hawk feather from Victoria Island, 2018. Photo by Julie Comber.The hawk who dove from a sunny sky to claim the life of an unsuspecting pigeon was the same species of raptor which I found lying dead just before a ceremony began at Victoria Island over a year ago. The body of the bird was warm, rigour was far from setting in. It was assumed by the people who had come to participate in the ceremony that the hawk had been caught in the winds of one of the tornadoes which destroyed many dwellings along the Ottawa River a couple of days previous to our gathering. We guessed that the bird of prey had been severely injured by the storm and somehow ended up on the island where it passed away a few short feet from where the ceremonial circle would take place.

The people participating in the ceremony thought it was fitting to invite the spirit of the great bird to take its place in our circle. We did so and the ceremony went well, as we had hoped. We pulled feathers from the bird and all who wanted one took it into their care, so it could become part of the bundle held sacred to them. I have one of the feathers here in my home. Tobacco was offered, a grave was dug and the hawk was laid to rest in a good way.

I do not think it’s outrageous to believe that the raptor who claimed his feast in the parking lot near where I stood is the same bird whose spirit was called into the circle by human beings over a year ago. He returned to say, “I’m here, I have fared well. I survived and I have come to feast the strength you place into your heart to survive grief and heartache!” What I experienced was not a coincidence. It’s just how spirit works!

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

Posted in Community, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments