An Evening with Edna Manitowabi

What are you going to do?

This evening I had the profound pleasure of seeing my first mentor in Native Way, as it was called back in the day. I cannot explain how much it meant to me to go a listen to her speak and get to feel her presence so close again.

I met Edna Manitowabi a lifetime ago, at the Native Canadian Centre in Toronto when she was a visiting Elder and I was a young woman trying to navigate the streets and my newfound acceptance in a community that was learning and teaching the one thing I had yearned for my whole, young life. To be included in a community of people who actually understood me, to learn how to live, being born of Native Blood.

A photo taken of Aunti Edna back around the time I would have met her.
Photographer unknown

My memory is vague, but I remember her inviting me out to lunch one day, her treat. We spoke for a long time and made a connection that day. I was introduced to a way of life that sustained me, kept me alive through so many years of turmoil. She invited me to come and attend ceremonies in St. Charles where she and her family had created a community that practiced a traditional Anishinaabe way, called the Midewin Society. The things I learned while I was there carried me through my life and will always be a gift I treasure.

So, when I heard that the woman who saved my life was visiting Wilfred Laurier University, I immediately knew that I would be attending this event and would be reunited with her. This time I will not be forgetting to save her phone number!

A photo of Auntie Edna taken 3/19/2019 after her talk.
Photo by Cory Bilyea

She gave us a lot to think about and I will be writing on her talk in my next blog. Feel free to share your thoughts and feelings about Edna Manitowabi and please, if you haven’t already, please go see the movie Indian Horse!

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