We are all small beneath the sky
June 06, 2018
Last week, Wood’s Homes held its first-ever Spring Feast and Friendship Dance, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day!
Leading up to the event, organizers came together to smoke a pipe with Indigenous Elders and ask for prayers for our community. They were dedicated to making sure the celebration properly incorporated Indigenous culture, inviting Treffrey Deerfoot, a Siksika storyteller, to support us in the raising of our Blackfoot Teepee, teach us and guide us as we learned about his culture. In the early afternoon, we invited Elder Larry Leather to bless Wood's Homes teepee.
An opening prayer was led by a guest Elder, followed by an acknowledgement of the land and an opening speech by our CEO, Dr. Jane Matheson (below). As the afternoon sun shone down at its brightest, we began the Grand Entry, Flag Song and Dance Demonstration, followed by a delicious feast of Bison Stew, Three Sisters Soup, Traditional Berry Soup, Fried Bread and Bannock.
“This Friendship Dance was important to Wood’s Homes, like it is to many Indigenous communities, as it allowed us to join hands and come together as a community, and support each other with laughter, song and dance, ” said Tye Rhyno, Wood’s Homes Indigenous Liason. “ When a client witnesses non-Indigenous people participating in culture, they have an opportunity to build a deeper connection. It created space for reconciliation and healing amongst those who participated.”
You can view photos from the event here.
The following opening speech was prepared by Wood's Homes CEO, Dr. Jane Matheson:
We are all small beneath the sky.
This is true.
And yet when Spring is upon us, was there ever any doubt about the depth and breadth of our possibilities? Does it not just feel like anything could happen?
To me, Spring is the season that sneaks up on you and opens you up. We open the doors in our homes to let breezes in and find excuses to go outside. We awake to birdsong through open windows – perhaps too early for some! Our open eyes marvel at goslings protected by anxious parents at the river and small flowers growing by a roadside that last only a heartbeat moment. We get our hands dirty with planting and cleaning up winter debris. We dream of rain.
Spring feels like a freedom and a blessing after long dark days and nights and heavy winter coats.
In Spring, we also open ourselves up to people – we see our neighbours in person after months of catching glimpses through half-drawn curtains. We go for walks and hold hands or ride bikes for hours, stopping at cafes to drink and eat outside. We stay up late, sit outside and watch the sun disappear – often in comfortable companionship. Perhaps telling stories.
Spring makes a space for us to renew friendships and remind ourselves of the deep respect and kindness we feel for people in our lives – at home, school or work. Is it just me or do people, in Spring, smile more… even strangers on the street? We look around us, take deep breaths, we feel lighter and both fortunate and humble - to be alive and to be surrounded by Spring.
Perhaps we are more aware of our place in the world – however small - beneath the sky.
And yet – together we are formidable. This is what this spring gathering and feast is all about – coming together to celebrate growth, change, the circle of life, the returning newness of the land, the richness of the space between us all, our relationships with others and our dreams for the future. We thank our friends for including us and sharing their spring rituals with us today. This will stay with us and sustain us, I have no doubt.
In Spring – one often makes plans for the future and so too Wood’s Homes finds itself at this time on the cusp of many exciting achievements and changes. These will unfold well past spring, and into summer and fall. Accompanying these very exciting events, we also have the inevitable anticipations and the ever-present anxiety that comes with disruptions of any kind. This gathering takes a moment to remind us that we are all connected – to the seasons, to the land, to our troubles and joys, our worries and wonderings, to each other, to the mysteries of the world. It nudges us to remember that we do not need to maneuver these changes alone.
Thank you again to our guests for your kind accompaniment and thank you to everyone affiliated with Wood’s Homes for making this day possible and setting us out through Spring on our path to the future.
Take a deep breath of this lovely spring air and remember – we are, after all, all small beneath this prairie sky.