Without my spiritual beliefs I would have most certainly ended up in prisons. I was caught in a death grip by a severe addiction to alcohol. Escape from it didn’t seem possible. I was in a rage and I was dangerous. But it all changed for me when I discovered the ancient spiritual beliefs of my Anishinabe ancestors.
I had the ability to see, hear, smell and taste like most other human beings as I stumbled without purpose through life. Today I no longer take the blessings my eyes, ears, nose and mouth allow into my life, for granted. My spirituality directs me to heap praise on all goodness God gives, so I can experience the four seasons of life with health and vigour by my side.
My spirituality points to the land as a place to go, to retrieve wisdom and hope. A lake surface freezes over in the winter months. A thick ceiling of ice, snow and crust block out light from where the fish live. A time of darkness befalls the perch but he does not despair. He is aware that in time, sunlight will once again enter his world. And when it does, he rejoices and is thankful. With this I am taught to stay strong, knowing that healing will eventually occur for me no matter what amount of pain might press into my heart today.
The birth of a human being is a miraculous occurrence. And because it is women who provide the womb and water in which the heart of a human being begins to drum, women hold a special place of honour in our spirituality. Long before other peoples came here, women of the Anishinabeg nations were entrusted to be keepers of the waters. It was they whose prayers, rituals and ceremonies were believed would keep the lake, river and stream free of poisons. Women were honoured as leaders and were feasted as gatherers of the many medicines the land generously provided to the Peoples so all would enjoy good health.
The duty of the men is to gather, and make ever ready for future generations, the kindling that keeps the fire of “life’s purpose” burning brightly.
The children are wise teachers and a constant reminder to us as to why we must keep the land healthy. My spiritual beliefs direct me to honour the children and to stand with humility before the old people of my community who dedicate the last years of their lives towards the health and wellbeing of our future generations.
After life has left my heart and the memories I held dear have been placed into the care of my children, I will awake to a world anew. My ancestors will greet me with honour songs and a great feast will take place. And forevermore, I will be surrounded by love and peace.