Several years ago, Turtle Lodge Trading Post Inc.began the process of donating batches of individual smudge kits and other supplies several times a year toShawenjeagamik, a Homeless Partnering Strategy run by theOdawa Native Friendship Centre, for their outreach program.
These bundles (generally) contain a cloth pouch, a shell, a feather, and some White Sage, Sweetgrass and Cedar, along with a pinback button that has the Shawenjeagamik address and logo, overlaid on top of the image of a golden feather... "to help guide our brothers and sisters home".This is one of the meanings of a golden feather in our culture. "Home" is where the Spirit lives.
The Golden Feather Initiative is a vision that TLTP's President, Karen Bisson, has carried for many years, to see a traditional medicines and a smudge kit in the hands of every Indigenous person. "We never turn away anyone who is truly in need and can't afford it. That's what this initiative is all about".
"I had this vision of someone arriving in town with no where to stay but the streets. (Been there!) They meet another street person who hands them one of these buttons with the address of the centre, and they are instantly "plugged in" to this network of healing and belonging. The buttons also make great identifiers for helping to connect those in crisis.
"I lived on the streets off and on for a few years in my troubled teens, which was over forty years ago. If someone had handed me one of these kits back then with a few instructions, and told me it was my birthright, it would have blown my mind. I may not have been quite ready for it, but I am quite sure it would have made me feel less alone, more protected and cared for, and undoubtedly given me an anchor of focus to a healthier, more productive life much sooner.
"For some people, just touching and smelling the scent of these amazing sacred medicines is enough to initiate the healing process. Having your own tools puts you in the driver seat. These tools and medicines trigger a reminder of the spirit of Ginawaydaganuk, that thing inside of us that recognizes that we are all connected to this Planet and to the entire Universe. This can be a powerful, life-changing experience.
"I really believe in this initiative. It's a call to healing and a message of hope. It says we love you... we got you... and indeed we are all in this together!"
Shawenjeagamik, meaning "House of Compassion" in Algonquin, was the name bestowed by our beloved Elder, the late Algonquin Elder William Commanda, to the drop-in centre at 510 Rideau, Ottawa ON, We decided to call these particular kits Ojigkwanong bundlesto honour his memory. Grandfather William was given the nameOjigkwanong, meaning Morning Star, by his Mother because the morning star shone so brightly at the time of his birth.
Note that a portion of allCircle of All Nations productssold on this website also go to this initiative. Circle of All Nations was founded by Grandfather William Commanda and his work and vision continues to be animated by his long time companion and co-director Romola Thumbadoo.
Ojigkwanong Bundles are delivered with love and respect in batches periodically throughout the year. We also send bags of medicines and other supplies to the centre as well asother low budget outreach programs and individuals in need as we can afford it.
"I'd love to see this initiative one day spread all across the country." ~Karen
Note that all 2021 bundles are being contributed in memory ofDonnell Taylor.