Family Cultural Day at Tobique First Nation

Stephanie Kelley

TFN Men’s Drummers drum and sing as the Dance of the Spirit dance group perform traditional steps in ceremonial dress

TFN Men’s Drummers drum and sing as the Dance of the Spirit dance group perform traditional steps in ceremonial dress

A Family Cultural Appreciation Day complete with a potluck picnic, barbecue, dancing, drumming and nature hikes was hosted by Tobique First Nation on October 12, 2013 at Mudwass Park.
The event received support from the Heritage Canada Youth Take Charge initiative through Falls Brook Centre in Knowlesville.
Heritage Canada wanted Falls Brook Centre to be involved with youth in communities all across the Maritimes, and so provided a generous grant to enable TFN to host this event and provide a stipend for the youth involved in its organization.
 
This Cultural Day provided an opportunity for local youth to showcase their entrepreneurial skills as they made the arrangements, planned the meal, organized the cooks and shoppers and printed the posters and signs. Various tress around the park were posted with messages bearing the Seven Sacred Teachings which each honour one basic virtue for a full and healthy life.
 

Raymond Sockabasin shows  how to make a fire with a friction bow in a Survival Skills demonstration

Raymond Sockabasin shows how to make a fire with a friction bow in a Survival Skills demonstration

Mudwass Park is a beautiful space with towering trees and nature trails located just past the Maliseet Gas Bar. When I arrived Saturday afternoon I joined a hiking group led by Victor Bear. As we walked through the woods, Victor showed us various plants, ferns and lichens and explained their traditional medicinal uses.
I then joined Tiffany Perley as she led a group down to the river where Tobique Fisheries has built bridges, paths, a tepee frame and benches around a giant fire pit. It is a beautiful site and the kids had a blast exploring it.
 

Back at the main park, Raymond Sockabasin showed us how to make a fire using friction. Using a springy length of green branch for the bow, he strung it with a piece of found cord (this was a survival skills exhibition, after all!) and demonstrated how to wind the cord around a dry stick which you then twirl on another piece of dry wood to create a spark by friction heat.
It’s definitely easier to just carry a lighter, but in a pinch I now know how to make a fire without one!
 

Raymond had a small pile of wood shavings and Old Man’s Beard Lichen ready to catch the spark. He told us that when he was a kid his grandfather would use this lichen to make tea when they were out working in the woods.
Old Man’s Beard is a common sight in our own woods, and it grows all over the world. It has been recognized for its medicinal qualities for thousands of years. Lichens are not a single plant, they are actually a symbiotic combination of algae and fungus.
 

Little Sammarah Francis has her face painted like a kitty cat with Cheyenne & Treasure Paul and Megan Paul, the artist

Little Sammarah Francis has her face painted like a kitty cat with Cheyenne & Treasure Paul and Megan Paul, the artist

This particular lichen, also called “Usnea”, has been documented as a respiratory antibiotic. It has a powerful anti-microbial effect, and has been used to treat pneumonia, bronchitis, tuberculosis and urinary tract infections, among others.
The fresh lichen can even be applied to an open wound to stave off infection!
 

Water alone does not unleash all of its medicinal qualities, it is recommended that you make a tincture instead. Simply pack a jar with usnea and fill the jar with vodka. Put a lid on it, and store it in a dark cupboard for several weeks.
When the tincture is done, strain out the lichen and save the liquid. You can put it in dropper bottles for ease of use. This tincture will last indefinitely, kept in a cupboard away from direct light. It can be used like Echinacea… to help stave off or reduce the symptoms of colds and flu or fight an infection take 8 drops of tincture 2 or 3 times a day.
 

Now the buffet tables were groaning with food, and the barbecues were fired up and we all sat down to a terrific pot-luck meal. For dessert, we enjoyed Indian Fry Bread dipped in molasses.
After the meal, the Men’s Drum Group gathered around the giant ceremonial drum and began to rhythmically drum and sing as the Spirit of the Dance group performed traditional steps under the majestic trees.
 

The sun was shining, the food was delicious, the company and conversation wonderful…a fantastic family day for all who visited.

 


 

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