Walking Out Ceremony
~ Arabella's Walking out Ceremony~ With Mom Fara, Dad Dallas and Baba Clayton.
At the Cree Cultural Interpretive Centre, Moose Factory Ontario.
The Walking Out Ceremony is an ancient rite of passage in the James Bay Cree tradition.
From the late 1700's shortly after European settlement in the north, ceremonies such as these were were forced underground, outlawed and forbidden by the missionaries. It was a dark time in the history of our country with the onset of the Residental school system implemented by church and state that forced thousands of Native children from their families at a very early age. The familial bonding that would occurr with such a beautiful ceremony was sadly lost.
August 8th 2015 was first time my grandaughter's feet touched the ground, and she walks proudly on these boughs gathered and laid on the earth by her uncles, aunties and helpers. She carries her little axe lovingly crafted by her Baba (grandfather ), and a small bundle of wood upon her back. She wears an outfit handsewn by her great aunt in the same fashion that it was worn hundreds of years before.
Symbolically, the wood represents the fire she will keep lit one day in her teepee as the mother and heart of the family. She continues her walk towards the tree and chops it down with her axe. She then returns to her teepee accompanied by her parents where she is greeted by her circle of family. She offers her bundle to the fire and is welcomed by Mother Earth. She gives the sweets she has been carrying to all who are seated around the fire.
One can feel the joy and sense the unseen presence of the Grandmothers in their colorful plaid scarves. The wind outside the canvas tent mingles with the rustling of their skirts as they enter. The have come to pass on their love and blessings to the grandchild.
Arabella knows her place in life and will walk strong with the strength of her ancestors and Oogaweemaow the Mother, surrounded by the love of her family, walking in the light of Shamandoo; God.
c/Lynn Harper-Cheechoo, October 2, 2015.