Kendra Walk Softly Kitchikake

By Kathleen Imbert

Kendra Walk Softly Kitchikake, nine years old, from Wikwemikong was among the five recipients for the James Bartleman Indigenous Youth Creative Writing Awards that recognizes up to six Indigenous students for their creative writing talent. She and five other indigenous youth received their award in the lieutenant governor’s suite by the Honourable Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Former Lieutenant Governor, James Bartleman on the 15th of December.

Alexander Bezzina, Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration congratulated the recipients and explained how their pieces were powerful, personal and written from the heart to bind us all together in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. His introduction also told how the First indigenous Lieutenant Governor 2002-2007, James Bartleman, was passionate about promoting literacy with indigenous youth.

The healing tradition of the Jingle dress and its ceremonial dance is Kendra’s prize-winning topic in the junior on-reserve category.  She tells the origins of the tradition, the meaning conveyed by the motions of the dance and the reasons why the jingle dance is special for her.

The jingle dress, reading a part of her essay to the assembly, has a spirit.  She read when I see people dancing in circles and they go in and out, when they are going in, they grab the sickness and when they’re going out, they throw the sickness away.  “When the jingles jingle they make a sound of water and waves…My jingle dress is special to me….my grandmother made it and it is so gorgeous and I love the sound of it.”
Elder Little Brown Bear closed the ceremony with a prayer before the small but powerful assembly met to enjoy the reception while the recipients stayed behind for the media.