By Rick Garrick
PAYS PLAT—Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee met with youth on the third day of Pays Plat’s Cultural Week during a tour of four Northern Superior Region communities.
“I got here Tuesday night and on Wednesday I went over to the gathering — there [were] lots of youth there at the community centre,” says Madahbee, noting he also visited Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, and Red Rock Indian Band during the tour. “It was a good gathering — I talked about the aspirations of the young people and what they want to do in life.”
The July 18-21 Cultural Week included a wide variety of workshops and circles, including Drum Teachings, Sweat Lodge Teachings, Traditional Teachings, Drum Making, Traditional Parenting, Dream Catchers, Sweat Lodge, Health and Wellness Fair, Healing Circle and Wellness and Healing Circle. The Cultural Week was followed by the Pays Plat First Nation Pow Wow, held July 22-24.
“It’s been great here this week [with] lots going on,” Madahbee says. “On both Thursday and Friday [July 21-22] I was here for the drum warmups.”
Madahbee also participated in a boat excursion on Lake Superior on July 22 and the Pays Plat First Nation Pow Wow Grand Entry on July 23.
“They had a big health fair as well [on July 21],” Madahbee says. “They had people talking about a whole number of health issues, like HIV-Aids, which is important. Young people are on their journey and they need to know this information.”
A group of youth from Thunder Bay’s Regional Multicultural Youth Centre also camped out in Pays Plat from July 18-22 to help out with the Cultural Week. The RMYC has helped out with all of the community’s Cultural Week events since the first was held five years ago.
“It was very enjoyable, very enlightening,” says Brandon Bruce, RMYC’s social media coordinator. “I learned a lot about my own culture, a lot that I didn’t know before. It was great to see the resurgence of First Nations culture. The Elders were great at transmitting the details of our traditional teachings, like why we respect the drum, how to make drums. It was great.”
Bruce says Pays Plat is “pretty different” from his home community of Pembroke, Ontario.
“It’s a small community, so everybody seems to know everybody,” Bruce says. “And I was talking with some of the girls here, and they said pretty much everybody around here was their relative. They are very close, and from where I am from, people are not as close.”
Bruce also enjoyed the natural environment around the community.
“Our group went exploring around the area,” Bruce says. “We went on some trails and we went searching for some red willow to make dreamcatchers.”
Pays Plat Councilor Raymond Goodchild acknowledged the RMYC for their help during the Cultural Week.
“We couldn’t get this [Cultural Week going] without their help and participation in some of the workshops,” Goodchild says. “I believe we’ve got to do things for the youth — instead of talking about it, put some action into it.”
Goodchild says the youth discussed a variety of issues during the Cultural Week, including residential school, intergenerational trauma, and wellness.
“They attended some of the sweat lodge teachings, they said prayers every morning with the opening ceremony here by our Elders,” Goodchild says. “They helped us to set up the powwow grounds and they helped us to clean up the hall. And they were asking a lot of questions.”