“When we host these ceremonies we are protecting our way of life” Sunshine Shewaybick reflects on decolonization in Webequie

IMG_8475WEBEQUIE NEWS
Sunshine Shewaybick
February 2, 2018

Students in SJMEC’s Grade 12 Indigenous Studies class were given an assignment to write a story about decolonization that takes place in Webequie. What follows is a reflection written by Sunshine Shewaybick.


In my culture, reconciliation is teachings; resistance is ceremonies; resurgence is gatherings.

These are what take place in Webequie today. Through these acts we are decolonizing our home, culture, and language.

Teachings and storytelling are oral tradition.

I remember my grandfather telling me a story about a Shaman who went through a wall of rock to get medicine from the Mehmehngweshoog. The Mehmehngweshook like shiny silver things and sweets. You have to give tobacco and food to get your medicine, and whenever you ask for these medicines: you ask for life.

We decolonize stereotypes and false stories when the settlers and immigrants of Canada are educated and made aware.

Ceremonies are an act of resistance to colonialism. Ceremonies like sweat lodges, pow wows, walking ceremonies, sundancing, shaking tents, healing ceremonies, and fasting.

Every summer my family and I travel to Matheson to attend this Sundance ceremony. When you sundance, you spend three days and two nights inside the Sundance lodge without food or water, and you pray. My first time was at the age of 14. I wanted to try it out; I wanted to receive my very own whistle and badge.

When we host these ceremonies we are protecting our way of life.

Resistance is learning about our medicines, traditions, language, culture, and histories.

Resistance is speaking our language. But sometimes there are challenges in resistance, such as an example of young women who are too shy to wear skirts at traditional ceremonies.

The problem with this is self-consciousness. We are often too busy worrying about how we look that the value of being a woman is taken for granted.

I see this as forced assimilation because the world’s ideas of beauty were instilled in our brains. We can decolonize this by teaching the young women the importance of being female and wearing skirts.

Resurgence is practicing the ways of our ancestors; it is sharing what we were taught; it is reviving the way our ancestors lived.

The Reconciliation, Resistance, and Resurgence is taking place in Webequie every day in different forms.

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