An Evening with Edna Manitowabi…continued

A beautiful smudge bowl and feather fan greeted guests at
 Circle of Dialogue with Edna Manitowabi
Photo by Cory Bilyea

For those of you reading that are not aware of the term smudge or smudging, it is described very well here:

In my excitement to see Edna Manitwabi in person again after so many years, I arrived very early to the venue, at the Martin Luther University College in Waterloo, Ontario. So I did what I do, pulled out my camera and started taking pictures.

The feature photo in today’s blog is one that explains the atmosphere in the room, a room where important conversation was about to be held. Before the discussion began, the smudge was lit and offered to the room, filling the air with the sweet smell of sage.

In the fleeting moment at the beginning, I was able to get Auntie Edna’s attention and the look on her face as she began to recognize me was so warm and loving, I could tell she was genuinely happy to see me, as well as surprised!

She spoke of so many things, her voice like a salve to my troubled soul, reminding me of the many, many hours we spent together, teacher and student. I barely remember most of the evening, I have been basking in the love I once knew, that I had forgotten and have now remembered.

The main message of the evening though, I do remember.

What are you going to do? There are so many people that are affected by the residential school system in Canada and the States. Her message was clear, it starts with you. These people who lived through this horrible situation must not be brushed under the rug anymore! This happened, and she broke open her heart in the movie Indian Horse as she saw the opportunity to share her story, so many peoples stories and perhaps get through to the audience how it really was, and is.

Edna Manitowabi’s tremendous and unaltering love for the people has been her life and her sacrifices are not unnoticed. As she moves into her twilight years, may her story reach all of you and may you feel the love that she shares with everybody she meets.

Watch the movie Indian Horse to see Auntie Edna’s portrayal of a Nokimus (Grandmother) where she drew on her own memories of being taken from her mother to residential school.

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