By Mai Duong
As a Firekeeper in training, I had the gift of hosting Grandfather in Toronto, two years in a row.
Last year, Grandfather suggested that this year’s event be longer, with some fun stuff, such as having an ancestral component, roaring drums and a lineage elder.
We had all year to plan it, and we didn’t. I had been coordinating the Plant Spirit Medicine conference for July, and the community members involved had been busy and scattered in various events. The communication lines were frayed all around. I was very concerned with the small number of pre-registrations for this year’s event, and wondered if we would be able to cover our expenses.
Two days before the event, it was confirmed that we would have twenty First Nations women, drummers & singers: the Mino Ode Kwewak N’gamowak (Good Hearted Women). We also had Aboriginal Elder Jean Becker, who is the Senior Advisor for Aboriginal Initiatives for Wilfrid Laurier University. Also, her husband Klaus and their Firekeeper attended.
Together, the three did a beautiful pipe ceremony, Jean blessed the land and the women sang and drummed. This group was relaxed, went with the flow, and joyfully got everyone to participate.
We had 46 others in attendance. The First Nations participants added such a rich, community feel to the day that made it so sweet. It was a real, authentic and respectful sharing of traditions. Even though the numbers were fewer than we had hoped, it was perfect, given our state of disarray. I don’t think we would have been able to handle more. Everyone really was there to deepen their hearts.
The questions to Grandfather were priceless. It was a truly good foundation to build on community. I learned that it’s fine to not have things go as planned or to meet my vision of perfection, to let go of my “standards” and all the “shoulds.”
The First Nations guests really taught me another level of flow. I’m especially proud of our community and how much we have learned and grown together as a group. We all were looking out for what was missing and looked after each others’ well being, and worked together well to make the event truly memorable.