The Temiskaming Native Women’s Support Group (TNWSG) hosted a weekend Language Gathering at Dorothy Lake near Kirkland Lake on July 6 and 7 to promote and encourage language speakers in the north to share their knowledge. The event brought together First Nation Elders and language speakers from the First Nations of Beaverhouse, Matachewan, Temiskaming, Wahgoshig and citizens of the Metis Nation. They came together for the event with community citizens and their children who wanted to learn the language of the Ojibway dialects of Matachewan and Beaverhouse. Other Native dialects were spoken during the event. The gathering was held at Dorothy Lake, which is owned by Beaverhouse FN.
“We wanted to host the event in a traditional setting on the land to give our Elders an opportunity to be in a familiar environment where they could share stories and repeat and use their language like they did when they were growing up. Having people around a fire with their Elders starts conversations and moments where we can learn the language. It is also a fun time as the stories often bring about laughter and good times which makes these stories more memorable for everyone,” said Anne Batisse, Executive Director, TNWSG.
Batisse, together with Arlene Hache, Keepers Of The Circle Program Developer, led the proposal effort to access funding which was provided through health and wellness programs by the Ontario provincial government. The planning process was also led by an Elders Circle composed of Elders from the Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming area First Nations and organizations. The event was also made possible with the assistance of Nancy Wabie, Beaverhouse FN; Bertha Cormier, Matachewan FN; Chelsea Daley, Ellen Joyner and staff from the TNWSG and Beaverhouse FN. The gathering was led by traditional drummers and teachers Roberta Oshkabewisens, TNWSG; Henry Joseph, Wahgoshig FN; Elder Marilyn Chevier-Wills, Temiskaming FN.
The event included story telling by Elders, traditional teachings for adults and for children, cooking bannock on a stick and medicine walks. Meals were prepared by lead organizer and cook Bertha Cormier, Matachewan FN. Traditional foods were prepared including locally gathered moose, caribou and fish. Traditional teachers also provided cooking demonstrations of roasting geese over a fire.