Hi everybody. Memashkegaabowek ndizhinikaaz. Adik ndoodem. Opwaaganisiniing niindonjiba. Niibing niindonji. My Spirit name is Standing Strong. That’s one of them, I have two. My clan is Caribou and I’m a member of the Red Rock Indian Band. I live here on this land that I call Niibing so I respectfully acknowledge this sacred land known to me as Niibing which is “it is summer” on the western shores of Ktichigaming (the great lake), the traditional homelands of the Anishinaabeg. It is between Animikii-Wiikwedong (Thunder Bay), the traditional homelands of Fort William First Nation, and Gichi Onigaming (Portage) the traditional homelands of Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. I am in relationship with this land which loves me, protects me, sustains me, entertains me, teaches me, and so much more. I could go on for an hour about the land itself, how it cares for me.

We’ve been doing the medicine wheel teachings. Today it’s about the north. They’re all my favourite but I’d say the north is definitely my favourite. They’re all my favourite. And to be clear, that this is my understanding only. So, every single individual would have their own understanding, every community, every family, every region. This is only what I have absorbed as my understanding.

So first, I wanted to talk about the circle and I’m going to pronounce it in Ojibwe “waawiyebii’igan – (wah-wee-yay-bee-{k}gin)”. There is no beginning or end to a circle. I love circles. I do a lot of circles. In a circle, much the same as the medicine wheel teachings, everyone is equal. Everyone belongs. Everyone is welcome. Everyone brings gifts and value to the circle. That’s why circles are so important. If we were living in community and circle, then everyone that brings their gifts and values to the circle can help with our relationship with each other and our relationship with the land. And everyone is safe in the circle. So, I wanted to share a little bit about the circle.

So today, we are doing the northern direction. In Ojibwe we would say giiwedin ({k}gee-way-din). Which is to me, I think of this as being the stage of storytelling. When the snow is on the ground, if you can imagine, in our ancient villages, people would have been gathered around the fireplace. And what are they doing? They’re sharing stories. This is why I understand that this is the time of the year to share stories, is in the wintertime.

Also, it’s a period of rest. It’s a period of rest for the earth. So, quite literally we have some animals that hibernate, that sleep during the winter. The plants will hibernate during the winter and then come back in the springtime which is the eastern quadrant. So, this is a rest period for all of us. I always enjoy winter because of this. It’s as if the earth sounds different when the snow is on the ground. To me, this a time of reflection and preparing for the new season.

We are in the medicine wheel quadrant of spiritual. So, when we look at the four sides of ourselves – physical, emotional, intellectual, and then spiritual. It can also be referred to as cultural. Spirit you would pronounce that as manidoo – (man-ih-too). And when we think of spirit we also think of wisdom. I love that about that quadrant.

The colour, again, the colours will vary from community to community, family to family. But I have seen it mostly represented as white. And that’s what I like to use in the northern direction. You would pronounce white as waabishkaa – (wah-bish-kah), which is “it is white”. We could think of the white color as being representative of where we are geographically and how far North we are. We haven’t had a lot of snow this winter, but generally we would have.  It could also be representative of wisdom and spiritual so when I think of the clothing that spiritual people wear sometimes it’s white. Also, it could be representative of the white race. When I think of the 4 colors I’m thinking of the Asian people, the Indigenous people, the Black people and the White people, very simply put.

So again, this could change but the plant medicine that I would look at for this quadrant would be sweetgrass and you can pronounce that as wiingashk – (wing-gashk). Sweetgrass is one of those plant medicines that gives us another opportunity for smudging. I like using sweetgrass, especially when I’m working with families that are experiencing grief or pain or trauma, any of those really intense emotions. The sweet grass does provide a calming effect. Then we think about, where do we find sweetgrass? So sweetgrass likes to grow next to water. It looks like regular grass when you’re out looking for it, but at the root, it has a bit of a purple tinge to it. You will also know by the smell. Once you smell sweetgrass, you never forget what it smells like, and you can find it that way literally following your nose. There’s lots of times when I’m outside or traveling some place and I’ll go, “oh I can smell sweetgrass!” so you can look around to see if you can see it. When we’re harvesting sweet grass or any of the plant medicines, we want to put sema or tobacco down first as an offering. Then we’re communicating with the plant and we’re asking it if we have permission to harvest them. And when we harvest them, we don’t want to pull it out by the roots, we want to cut it above the ground. You don’t want to pick an area dry, so you want to pick a little bit and then go to another area, and you’re always checking in with Creator if it’s okay to pick that. Most of the time, it’s usually braided. I think that’s because it makes it really easy to carry around rather than when it’s loose. I’ve also heard of people say that they’ll use 21 strands in a braid. I will confess that I don’t usually count how many strands I have in a braid, but I have heard that. I’ve also heard that the sweetgrass is representative of Mother Earth’s hair, which I really like that like that idea.

Cindy Crowe – Standing Strong
Caribou Clan, Red Rock Indian Band

Cindy Crowe is a Lodge Keeper. She holds physical space as well as spiritual space for people. Cindy provides assistance to people with their identities and their life purpose. She also offers tourism opportunities with Blue Sky Community Healing Centre.


Indigenous Engagement and Training

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Local Screening at the ORIGIN Office

Interested Heavy Equipment Operation candidates joined Randy at the ORIGIN office to participate in heavy equipment simulators. Those showing a high aptitude for operation have the opportunity to join the Operation Innovation training group!

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Empower individuals in their career journey with Wake the Warrior!

During the Wake the Warrior program, participants will advance through a series of life skills, work readiness, and job search preparation workshops to gain a well-rounded foundation for their future career.

Book your community in now to secure your dates!  Program suitable for youth, young and older adults!

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New Career Experience

The production team journeyed to Florida do shoot a new day in the life experience of a Meter Installer at Honeywell. This experience will be complemented by a training experience where users will practice selecting the right PPE and completing various tasks associated with a Meter Installer.

Improving Accessibility with Careers Experiences

From the Skills Ontario Careers library, all experiences are being updated to include English and French closed captions. These improvements will allow more people to be able to benefit from this style of career exploration!

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Upcoming Events

Neeganii-Iishawin Gathering 2024

February 27 – 29

Thunder Bay, ON

Find ORIGIN at the Neeganii-Iishawin Tradeshow! We look forward joining communities, entrepreneurs, economic development leaders, and partners for an exciting few days.

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RES 2024

March 11-14

Las Vegas, NV

ORIGIN will be in attendance at this high caliber summit. This year’s theme is “Strength in Unity”. Catch the team at the tradeshow and different events throughout the week!

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Community Spotlight

Ojibways of Onigaming

Starting of the year strong, the team was invited to run the first week of the Wake the Warrior program in Onigaming First Nation. Week 1 was all about building foundational skills to prepare you for your career journey. It was awesome to connect with members and learn more about their aspirations!

We were back to facilitate the second week of the program focusing on soft skills needed in the workplace! Keep an eye out for registration to join in on this program. If your interested in more information, contact our facilitator team.

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Service Highlight

ImmersiveLink Pow Wows

Capture the energy of your community celebrations with ImmersiveLink Powwows!

These completely customized VR experiences preserve community celebrations that can be shared with generations to come. Our production team will work closely with your team to ensure we are highlighting exactly what you are hoping to capture.

If this sounds like a good fit, reach out to our team today to set up a discovery call.

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