Awen' Gathering Place

Niibi Gatherings, Water is Life, Water is Alive

The Town of Collingwood is presenting a discussion and ceremony series at the Awen’ Gathering Place this summer starting on June 18 with an event in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21). The water-themed series is called Niibi Gatherings, Niibi is the Ojibwe word for water. 

Where: Awen’ Gathering Place, Harbourview Park
Dates: June 18, July 3 & August 9
Times: 7:00 p.m.

Rain or shine, all ages welcome. Bring your own water bottle & a blanket to sit on.

Tuesday, June 18 
7:00 p.m. 

Indigenous women share a sacred connection to the spirit of niibi - water. As life-givers, all women in Anishinaabekwe culture are given the responsibility to protect and nurture water. Join us for a traditional Water Ceremony with Saugeen First Nation Cultural and Wellness Coordinator, Lori Kewaquom. We offer this event in celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21) and the rich contributions First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples have made to Canada.

Wednesday, July 3 
7:00 p.m. 

Niibi - water is the most life sustaining gift on Mother Earth and is the interconnection among all living beings. It’s the home to many fish, plants and animals that contribute to our health and well-being yet many of us are not aware of the changes happening under the water’s surface. Andrew Akiwenzie, Natasha Akiwenzie, and Victoria Serda, from Bagida’waad Alliance will talk about the heritage of Chippewas of Nawash fishing families and discuss growing changes to Lake Huron and Georgian Bay from a cultural and environmental perspective.

The Bagida-waad Alliance (meaning “they set a net”) is a not-for-profit environmental organization founded in 2018 by the Chippewas of Nawash fishing families to share their findings about Lake Huron, encourage youth to hear stories of the Elders about fish and to encourage more active stewardship of the lands and the waters. 

Friday, August 9
7:00 p.m. 

The experience of migration, often by water can be very different from one person to another. Following an introduction and ceremony with Elder and Oshkaabewis-messenger, James Carpenter, Toronto artist Akshata Naik leads an interactive art project inviting participants to reflect on our personal history, travel, identity and where and to whom we feel most connected. Let’s recognize and celebrate our diverse stories and identities. This event is held on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the eve of Sidelaunch Days Collingwood Harbour Festival. A bio about Akshata can be found here

 

More information about the Awen' Gathering Place (located at the North end of Cedar Street) is found below. 

 

The Awen’ Gathering Place is a space of sharing, learning, teaching, ceremony, celebration and contemplation created by the Town of Collingwood to advance recognition of the past and present Indigenous Peoples and their heritage legacy in Collingwood and the surrounding area. Awen’ is a Wendat word for “water”.

The concept for the Awen’ Gathering Place is based on the teachings of the renowned educator, artist and poet Dr Duke Redbird of the Saugeen Ojibway First Nation. The design links the seven grandfather teachings to the seven layers of the food forest. The Seven Grandfather Teachings are an ancient Anishinaabe/Midewiwin teaching on the ethics of proper behaviour and conduct or ‘the good way of life’.

These teachings are linked to the lands that were for thousands of years the source of life for the Anishinaabeg peoples who gathered foods, medicines and materials from the forest in the area that is now Collingwood.

Lafontaine Iron Werks, of Tiny, Ontario, joined forces with Nicola Logworks of Merritt, B.C., to produce the vision inspired by Dr. Redbird and colleagues. Locally, Envision Tatham provided site planning, design, and engineering services to ensure that the structure had the foundation and support needed. Local electrical contract, Spears Electric, ensured that the structure had the power needed to provide light and utility and make the Gathering Circle a very visible component of the town’s waterfront skyline. Eco Blue Systems took on the very difficult work of reclaiming the lands from their former use and developing a basis for trails, landforms, and the Gathering Circle structure, that will make Collingwood proud.

Supporting all of the above have been the United Steelworkers Union, with the culmination of that support that took place on September 6th in projects at the Gathering Circle, but also ranging beyond to Sunset Point Park and a Shoreline Cleanup.

The design of the Gathering Place is the result of a collaboration between Dr. Redbird and the Indigenous design team of Brook McIlroy Inc. Architecture/Cultural Place-Making Studio.

For more information about the Awen' Gathering Place, feel free to click on the following documents:

 

Photo by Dave West Photography
Film by Mountain Goat Film Company Inc.