Inside a Knowledge Keeper's Teepee: Raising Muskeg Warriors

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Inside a Knowledge Keeper's Teepee: Raising Muskeg Warriors

The Lac La Ronge Indian Band explores on-the-land distance education via its 'Culture Week' activities: outdoor storytelling, birch-bark biting and picture-frame making, fungal painting, antler carving, story telling, and medicines gathering -- with Eleanor Charles-Hegland.

The activities demonstrate a long history of on-the-land education for the First Nation, one that predates Covid-19 and continues in spite of it.

Inside the Knowlege-Keeper's Tipi (Teepee) Eleanor and her sister Laurie Peters-Whiteman -of Sturgeon Lake First Nation - teach young children about local boreal medicines that can be gathered, and about their use in the Woodland Cree culture. The K-4 students at the Bell's Point Elementary School (BPES) listen and learn intently.

Valerian root, Rat Root (Acorus Calamus or 'sweet flag'), Chaga, and other medicines line a table with wood carvings and sage.

Eleanor Charles-Heglend is a residential school survivor, though she had to run away to continue her story. After a dangerous escape along the Prince Albert Diefenbaker Bridge, Eleanor - a green-eyed Cree woman - returned to her family home in the boreal to find her father disappointed.

'I could carry water, but that was about it' Heglend laughs, reflecting on her lost value working on the land.

But a lot has changed in the decades since then.

'Hands are for hard work, not for hitting or teasing' Eleanor reminds us. Her own calloused hands carry the 'Mooshum' (meaning grandfather) rock toward the embrace of a youth.

'Always have a rock in the classroom' Heglend says, referring to the alternate form of 'time out' employed in some First Nations classrooms: when children are having a hard time, they are brought back to nature, she says, 'feel the rock, how it feels. There is probably a jewel, a geode inside that hard rock, though I have yet to crack it'

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Missinipi Broadcasting Corporation’s beginnings go back to the early 1980’s. Prior to that, the north had received merely token attention in the area of communications.

Today MBC is heard in well over 70 communities, including many southern cities where thousands of ‘Urban Aboriginals’ now make their homes but still wish to keep informed of what is going on in the north.  MBC’s Cree and Dene programming is nationally recognized as leading the field in indigenous communications, and has been shared with audiences as far away as the Northwest Territories, Alberta, BC, and Ontario.

Video Upload Date: 09 Oct 2020

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