Proudly do I report the success of the launch of Sakahàn (Igniting a Fire) art exhibition at the National Art Gallery on Thursday, May 16.
My friends, artwork speaks. The voices emitting from the creations of our artists today are entities born in the chants of an ancestor sitting in the glow of a fire somewhere far into the past. The reach of the voice into your psyche depends on how open your mind is to the message of the artist. If you have even the smallest interest in the arts, then please, do yourself a favour and take in Sakahàn. Bring the little ones to it. Sow the seed, hear the voices, change your life and theirs.
The launch was perfect and made so because of many, including the Eagle River Drummers, Chief Gilbert Whiteduck, fire keeper Peter Decontie, community leader Claudette Commanda (all from Kitigan Zibi), Danielle Lanouette (Algonquin), the multi-talented Theland Kicknosway (Pottawatomi Cree), his mother Elaine Kicknosway (Cree), the hoop dancer Rhonda Doxtator (Mohawk). A special thank you for Jaime Koebel (Métis) and Greg Hill (Mohawk) who planned the launch: Kichi Migwech.
I also played a small part in the event as I opened the proceedings at the Gallery with a prayer. The following are words I wrote for “Sakahàn” and what the word means to me, an Algonquin spiritual advisor. The Gallery holds copyright to these words.
by Albert Dumont for the National Gallery
The igniting of a fire by human beings at the commencement of a ritual or ceremony brings greater sacredness to a place already made holy by the blessings of Kichi Manido (Great Spirit). The First Peoples who lived on Turtle Island long ago were keenly aware that without fire, the sacred medicines of tobacco, sage, cedar and sweetgrass would not have the ability to carry prayers into the spiritual domain of Kichi Manido. Fire consumed offerings of cloth and berries on behalf of the First Peoples and by doing so, placed these offerings on the feasting blankets of their loved ones who had travelled to the Land of Souls before them.
The ancestors saw the great respect fire had for water and that fire could only live if the wind allowed it to. They saw that fire could only exist if it had the support and cooperation of other things placed on Mother Earth by Kichi Manido. With this knowledge, the First Peoples recognized fire as a wise teacher. They were drawn to sing honour songs for water, the winds and for the health of Mother Earth because of what fire had taught them.
A sacred fire sings a song. A melody to which fish, birds, animals and insects are attracted to. A sacred fire ignited after the moon has risen, burns in the centre of a circle of its own creation. All which is alive in this sacred circle of light has nothing to fear, evil and wickedness cannot enter there.
The sacred fire is a prayer onto itself. A prayer you can see and smell. A prayer you, as a human being, are invited to be part of. It touches you and teaches you lessons of spirituality. It humbles you. It allows you to sit in the centre of God’s blessing.