Nazanin Shoja, the OAC Culture Days Ontario Animator/Coordinator spoke with Cynthia Coons, Assistant Coordinator of the Waabi-ma'iingan (Grey Wolf) Traditional Teaching Lodge, about what they offered the residents of Thunder Bay, ON during Culture Days 2010.
Culture Days - Who are you and what do you do?
Cynthia Coons – Waabi-ma’iingan is a teaching lodge which reconnects people with their spiritual side. We have ceremonies 4 times a year, Elders and Youth Gatherings once a year and a sharing circle every two weeks. At Waabi-ma’iingan, we encourage tolerance and offer a comfortable environment where non-aboriginals can learn about Aboriginal culture as well.
CD - What made your 2010 Culture Days activity unique?
CC – We held an Elders and Youth Gathering entitled "Voices from the Past, For Tomorrow." We had Elders come from 50 different communities, from all over Ontario. Many people were invited to come to the lodge to listen to the Elders speak.
CD - What inspired or surprised you about Culture Days?
CC – The event was very successful. People kept asking when the next one would be happening.
CD - What do you feel is the impact of culture in your community?
CC – There has been a very positive impact. On the last day of the event, the youth were invited to speak. They discussed issues such as racism and expressed their desire to learn more about their culture and reconnect with their native language and heritage. As a result of these discussions, the lodge has been going to St. Pat’s high school, where an Aboriginal counselor visits with the students and teaches them about Aboriginal culture and traditions. They are also in the process of arranging a sweat lodge for them, since they had no access to that before.
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