By Tammy Desmoulin
SAULT STE. MARIE, MI – Learning the Anishinabek Nation clan system is the first step towards building unity within the nation.
Anishinabek Nation youth rep Nathalie Restoule was one of some 500 participants at the 20th Anishinaabemowin-Teg Language conference held March 27-30, and she participated in one of Elder Gordon Waindubence’s two Clan teaching sessions.
“Acknowledging the Clan system is to honour who we are as a people and where we have come from,” says Restoule, who will be graduating from Northern Secondary School in Sturgeon Falls this June. “I highly suggest everyone learn more about the Clan system whenever they get the chance. I know the teachings will be a way for our people to begin to feel a sense of pride and unity. It all starts off with one person, to a community, then a nation.”
The Clan teachings were well received by over 100 participants, who had many questions about the Clan system and responsibilities.
“As female youth representative for the Anishinabek Nation I think it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to become educated on the importance of the clan system,” says Restoule. “The first time I had ever heard Elder Gordon Waindubence speak of it, I was blown away about the importance and value of it. As Anishinaabe people we need to come to the understanding with open hearts and minds to learn more about it. It’s who we are and the lessons and teachings the system holds is blood and roots.”
Staff members of the Restoration of Jurisdiction unit of the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) wrapped up their 2013-2014 community engagement season by attending the four-day language conference which included two workshops on the Anishinabek Education System.
Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare spoke to a session on Identity, Unity and Anishinabek Nationhood, Education Working Group member Loretta Roy made a presentation about the Anishinabek Education System and Adrienne Pelletier, UOI Social Services Director, spoke about the state of child welfare.
Margaret Ann Noodin, Anishinaabemowin Teg Secretary, thanked the ROJ department for taking part in the Language Conference.
“ G’miigwechwinim gii ni dagoshinoyeg iwedi Bahwating. Nijanisinaanig waa Anishinaabendamowaad pane gishpin Anishinaabemoying! “ — We thank you for coming to Sault Ste. Marie. Our children will be able to think in Anishinaabemowin if we all speak the language!
Tammy Desmoulin is Community Relations Officer for the Restoration of Jurisdiction unit of the Union of Ontario Indians.