60s Scoop Gathering is a great success
The 5th annual 60s Scoop Gathering took place Oct 27 to 30 at Waupoos Family Farm located just outside the city limits south of Ottawa. Waupoos Farm has been the go-to site for our gatherings because it has modern amenities and they allow us to use the land for ceremonies such as the sacred fire, sweat lodges, and the new set up of the 60s Scoop learning tipi.
From the planning of meals, organizing of the space, and acquiring the supplies and facilitators, no detail was left out. The care of the survivors attending, the knowledge keepers, and the Elders were considered, making sure the needs of diabetics and folks with allergies and special dietary needs were met. There was food and traditional medicines on hand, protocols of passing of tobacco to Elders/knowledge keepers and making sure each person had what they needed in case of emergency such as hand warmers, extra hats, mitts, socks, blankets, toiletries, and even raincoats.
Elder Stanley Peltier traveled from Wikwemikong First Nation to bring a 24-foot tipi for our gathering. He would teach us how to put it up and take care of it. In order to assemble the tipi, we would need strong folks to lift the poles and folks to remember the teachings for next time.
Elder Stanley shared that helping to put it up would create a sense of ownership and pride for the tipi. He offered his pipe for ceremony to call the ancestors in to help us in our healing and learning and lit the fire traditional using flint.
Over the next four days Indigenous knowledge keepers, Indigenous facilitators, performers, and artists shared their teachings about culture, ceremony, crafting, healing, and stories of resilience. The workshops varied from collage making, black ash cedar basket making, an intergenerational family’s story of reconnecting with family through learning about fish scale art/dyeing and making fish scale art, a traditional medicine workshop, woodland style art through drawing, teachings on ghost feast/feasting of the dead ceremonies with traditional foods, working with porcupine quills, teachings on the giveaway, and a blanketing ceremony.
Some of the ceremonies were not photographed due to protocols taught that we don’t photograph or record because our ancestors are present. We also don’t photograph or record the sacred fire, nor throw items like garbage into the fire. The fire is meant to stay lit for the entire gathering and slowly go out on the last day.
The gathering ended in ceremony with each survivor being gifted a ribbon skirt or ribbon shirt made by a local Indigenous woman who took all the sizes in advance of the gathering. Survivors were blanketed with beautiful, coloured blankets as they left the tipi as a symbol of belonging after they leave the gathering, connected to a larger community of survivors from all over. The blankets came with teachings about how we never received those blankets throughout life to signify important events in our life, which were ceremonies denied to us because of our adoptions. Survivors helped with taking down the tipi, and the poles are stored at a local place called Madahoki Farm for the winter. The gathering was a success, and we would like to thank Waupoos Farm, volunteers Karin, Parmela, Kassidy, Beverley and Victor, Jonathan, and Nancy, as well as KAIROS and the United Church of Canada for being our intermediary sponsor to access funding.
By Colleen Hele Cardinal, Co-Founder of the Sixties Scoop Network.