Walking With Our Sisters Parry Sound, Ontario was the third exhibit location and opened January 10, 2014 at the West Parry Sound District Museum.
The Parry Sound Exhibit received lots of community support in the form of donations from the City, local townships and reserve, businesses, schools and organizations. The generousity shown for this important Exhibit was overwhelming! (See donor list at the bottom of the page)
Even more generoursity was demonstrated when we gathered to install the exhibit. Wholesome and delicious food was provided as well as many helping hands to make light work.
From our Facebook Page:
“During the three days of installation, it was so good to have food ready at lunch and dinner for the volunteers. Mary Hachigian and Gloria Tozek immediately took on the challenge without question and accepted to make lunch on our first day. These two women brought soup and sandwiches, cookies, fruit, and desserts that tasted so good!! Chi-miigwetch to you both for taking time and making the effort in helping to give much needed nourishment to the people that helped mop floors, sweep, lay material, cut, open boxes, hang material, dust, and brave the hardness of the concrete floors while all this was being done to get ready to lay the vamps. All of this on day one! Very grateful to both ladies!! This picture, Lisa Periard have her thumbs up!!”
We also had the help and support of others who worked on the educational components of the Exhibit.
“This pamphlet has been very helpful to the visitors. Chi miigwetch, thank you to Lynn Decaro for developing from community sessions for WWOS Parry Sound, and VCARS (Victims Crisis Assistance & Referral Service) for taking on the task of printing copies. Their help and support has been so great and more. WWOS volunteer, and VCARS employee Jenn is a call away and has also helped with the coordinating, laying vamps, bringing materials for us to use and talking with people in need…Victims Crisis Assistance & Referral Service [is] a police-referred agency of volunteers that provides short term emotional & practical assistance to victims of crime or tragic circumstance.” (From our Facebook Page)
The Elders who provided guidance throughout the Walking With Our Sisters Parry Sound Exhibit were (from left to right pictured below) Donna King, Dora Tabobondung, and Lorna Pawis.
From our Facebook Page:
“A month or so ago, Christi had shared with me the importance of asking a group of Elders to help with ceremony and guidance. In our discussion, it was expressed to select women who I knew and could count on to meet the commitment of this exhibition and be supportive. These 3 women came into view. If it weren’t for the hard work and effort they had put out through Wasauksing First Nations Elders Gathering, I would not have seen their gifts shine through. The gathering was a success and many comments were requests to continue in the coming years. It was not only me who noticed. Not only am I proud, I am also very grateful to have these three women accept my tobacco offering with love. I’m very humbled and honoured to exercise my strength and courage through this exhibit.”
Prior to each exhibit cedar is gathered to lay down under the Vamps and where people will walk as they view the Vamps. This task proved to be a fun and not without some adventure!
“As we arrive at our destination, we have tightened up our boots and started into the bush. Once we’ve placed our tobacco down and given thanks, it was our turn to start our trek into the bush. With there being so much snow that’s fallen in the past few days, we found it exciting to make our way. Helping one another in and back out again turned into a time of fun and filled with laughter. These experiences I have had with our Elders I will treasure always. What a gift this day was.” (From our Facebook Page)
The Keeper who was given the job of looking after the Vamps was Christine King.
“I wanted another woman to help balance my strengths and weaknesses, a woman who is clear and self motivated, has integrity and confidence in her work ethic. A woman who will offer more structure and someone who will choose goodness for everyone. I know a few women with such characteristics, and it was letting the creator show me as I put my samaah down and put my request out in prayer. It was for me to keep my heart and eyes open. I knew once I saw a picture of Christine King, it was only the matter of her accepting. I shared my story with our Elders and gathered my tobacco that I grew in my garden and went to visit this beautiful woman. As I shared about Walking With Our Sisters and the strength of beauty and honor this art commemoration means to me, it became more clear In my heart that Christine is a good choice.”
Miigwetch to our Volunteers.
And we must mention our volunteers! We cannot forget these special people who gave of their time to help promote, install and de-install the Exhibit. Below are pictures of some of the beautiful bunch of people who came out to offer assistance during this journey.
Miigwetch to our Youth.
Our youth were also involved. It is important to include those, who have the potential to be our leaders in the next generation, as part of the process. “Miigwetch to Kamiya and Gracie. I am honored to recognize these two youth and am grateful to the parents in raising young people who are taking interest in their future and working toward creating change.”
Miigwetch to our Men.
And as much as women came out to work hard there were men who helped with so many aspects of the Exhibit. “The men who were here to contribute, contributed in ways more than from a physical direction, there was also spiritual, mental, and emotional support. I say Chi-Miigwetch, big thank you to the men who helped in so many ways. From making breakfast to driving loved ones, moving boxes, carrying bags, bringing cedar, hanging material, folding and unfolding chairs & tables, laying vamps, smiling, hugs, and raising girls who have become women who are strong within themselves to make and create change in this world we live in.”
Miigwetch to those who visited and shared their stories.
We know that this Exhibit impacted so many people! Over 1000 people attended during WWOS’s stay in Parry Sound. Our visitors even included little folks who came with their mom’s and dad’s. Here are some of the testimonials of those who came and were inspired and moved.
Wasauksing Kinomaugewgamik Students
Our local organizer for the Exhibit, Tracey Pawis (pictured below right), was the woman who kept our Facebook Page up to date and whose beautiful words you have read throughout this story of the Parry Sound Exhibit’s journey. During the setup of the Exhibit she had this to say:
“During the installation process of opening vamps, I had found the pair I had made in the box I had selected to open. Out of the 1700 + moccasin tops I picked the box that had my vamps. As I opened the package I immediately thought of who I had commemorated these vamps to. I was happy to see them, and emotional. I still had questions for myself. In the next two days, questions I had were answered during the opening of the Walking With Our Sisters – Parry Sound Exhibit and I noticed it was okay to let go of what I was holding onto all this time.
With all the feelings of gratitude, thankfulness and love for everyone’s actions in helping to bring this together, I could see more love everywhere. In that instant of letting go, I accepted more love in me. Miigwetch Christi, for your vision in bringing Walking With Our Sisters to reality.”
Even during the challenging moments, like the van breaking down on route to deliver the vamps to Winnipeg, people, like the two pictured below, came out to offer support!
The Vamps did make it to Winnipeg and the new Elders, Keepers and Volunteers who would take over where Parry Sound left off!
More new adventures begin and more spirits uplifted!
Thank / Miigwetch again to our donors and to Lynda Schwalm who was instrumental in organizing the deputations with the Parry Sound and area municipalities!
- DVCC (Domestic Violence Committee) of Parry Sound
- G’zaagin Art Gallery
- Town of Parry Sound
- Carling Mayor & Council
- St. Peters Church
- Kay Wheatley
- Township of Archipelago
- Henvey Inlet First Nation
- Seguin Township
- Shawanaga Healing Centre
- Wasausink Lands Inc
- Wasauksing Kinomaugewgamik High School
Media for WWOS Regina: