Tuesday, November 23, 2010
TOP TEN THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT NATIVE CEREMONIES IN CANADA
This is inspired From Sunday's Full Moon Ceremony. Grandma Claus (my mom in law) is a Mohawk Grandmother in our community. She runs some ceremonies at our house, mostly the Full Moon ones. There is much she can't get done and so I make sure we are ready to go as the sun sets.
1. Our Elders, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunties, Uncles, Sweat Lodge leaders etc are not ordained, not recognized officially by the government and therefore con noy marry us or bury us.
2. We cannot legally hold a ceremony within city limits. We do but since they include a small ceremonial fire (small, little more then burning embers) we risk being fined. Our fires are not Bon fires, they are manned by a trained fire keeper and I have seen BBQ's with more flame. There is no concession made for us.
3. We do not have religious buildings. Where our places of prayer is, are the yards, lodges and homes of those trained to lead them. Their is no tax exemption like for other religious groups. I know people think we don't pay taxes, but we only don't pay tax on our rez's as they are our land. So for the many of us off rez, this is the case.
4. Being at home means cleaning up. In often large families this means a lot of cleaning up. I could do this in the days a head but it would be pointless. So we all clean up the day of.
5. Although many places of business in Canada respect religious freedoms and so make sure Christians get 4 hours a week to attend church, and the Muslims get 15-20 minutes at their regular intervals through out the day and that Catholics get to mass and confession and that Jews have four hours weekly for Synagogue, we are not recognized in the same way.
Grandma Claus uses her sick days to conduct ceremony in our community. Imagine if your Pastor was not given Sunday to preach to the masses? My work chooses to give me time off cuz my sis is the GM. Most are not so lucky. I worked Out that other religions get about 8 hours off a month for religious reasons so that is what Grandma and Aunty are currently fighting for. It is falling on deaf ears and legal help will be the next step.
6. Food is big!! Every ceremony has food. Even fast as it will end with a feast. So we are very skilled at potluck. If potluck were an Olympic event us Skins would take gold every time. As host we must provide the backbone. This is easy at Full Moon as the potluck starts between 10pm and midnight, a good cake is great. Of course since it starts supper-ish I must be prepared to feed anyone who comes early. This can entail feeding 15-20 people (we are a family of 9 after all). And feeding them after a day of baking and cleaning. I usually go with KFC or pizza. I'd be a shamed host if I lacked enough food or tea.
7. We do not get paid or request money. If this happens then you are in the hands of a fake. Since hosting can get costly, (food, supplies, gas for picking up those who need help and possible fines) it cab be difficult. Not to mention feeding the unexpected guests looking for the wise advice of a Grandmother. Like I said we are not ordained or recognized so we most work at a mainstream job as well (hence Grandma's difficulty getting time off). So how do They do it? How does one show thanks? Bring food, firewood, water or strawberries as these are needed for every ceremony. Bring a gift for the one leading the ceremony. Take your turn and help mind the babies.
8. Children under 4 are in the baby stage of life. They are not removed, shushed or kept away. Let them be, let them run, play and ask questions...unless they are about to end up in the fire.
9. When you hear the fire trucks in the distance. Make sure your gate is closed blocking the view of the fire. Have Dh at the BBQ (always a good cover for the nosy person who thought they smelled smoke). Stay calm so the kids are not worried. And when they pass by laugh. When your choices are laugh or cry it is always best to do both.
10: give thanks that your neighbors are WAY more tolerant then the government and always remember to be thankful of their understanding of our situation. Hopefully our neighbors will one day change the currant situation so that we may also enjoy religious freedom.
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