SATURDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 6:30AM AT DAWN
AROUND THE SACRED FIRE IN THE BACKYARD AT FIRSTONTARIO PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE
A sacred fire will burn each day from dawn to dusk in the backyard of the PAC during this year’s Celebration of Nations.
Each morning, a Sunrise Ceremony will take place each day as an opportunity to greet the sun as it rises to begin a new day and to give thanks for another day of life.
Saturday’s ceremony will be led by Grandmother Marie and Elder Albert Choken.
Marie Jones is a Mohawk traditional woman born on the Six Nations Territory, Turtle Clan and raised in the fruit belt of Niagara. She comes from a long line of traditional women on both sides of her parents, is considered a knowledge keeper. Marie comes from a large blended family of 14 children, is a Tota not only to her immediate family, but also to the Indigenous community of Niagara. She walks in the footsteps of her mother, serving her community.
Anishinaabe Elder Albert Choken, Menay-Noose (male Poplar tree man)
Thunderbird Clan from Lake Manitoba First Nation.
Albert is a speaker of Anishinaabemowin and knows symbols, tribe recognition, tattoos, colours so that despite language barriers he would know how to communicate. Currently Albert is a conductor and carrier of ceremonies: Fasting, vision quest and holder of piercing ceremony, sweat lodge, pipe carrier, rain dance, drum, clan teachings, big foot ceremony, naming ceremony and knowledge keeper. Albert is a survivor of Canada’s residential school system.
Albert is a cultural icon in his community and spends his time helping troubled Indigenous men and youth. “We teach them respect and forgiveness. Teach a man those two things and wherever they go in life they’ll be alright”.
Helping Indigenous youth and men is essential in dealing with the wounds of the past and current traumas that remain from the residential school system. “Today we take care of our youth and we are trying to fix everything so we can all live as one again. In the beginning we lived as one, we were all given equal gifts.” No stranger to troubles that confront Indigenous youth, as a child Albert was taken from his family, cutting him off from his culture, language, family and traditions. This is what drives Albert to do the work he does today.
Grandmother Marie, Elder Albert Choken