There has been a new addition to the Kataquapit family. The baby (Cheecheesh) Orion Marcus Jeremy Kataquapit was born October 27, weighing eight pounds and two ounces to my younger brother Joseph and his wife Lynda. The whole family was excited to hear the news and the baby has become the centre of attention for everyone. He was called after the constellation Orion, also known as the hunter.

I was happy to meet Orion on his first day in this world. I had no fear to hold or handle him as I have a lot of experience with small babies. I have two sisters and five brothers and they all have children. Our family has many grandchildren and Orion will not be a lonely boy as the 22nd grandson for my parents.

It still amazes me to view such a small and fragile human being even though I have seen so many babies. It is incredible how someone so small can change the lives of so many people.

Joseph and Lynda are a great couple and they will provide Orion with a loving home. Joe will no doubt fill this little guy’s life with lots of humour and kindness. Lynda already seems like an experienced mother with all the skills and abilities that have been passed down from her parents and grandparents in Webequie First Nation. Joseph also knows these same traditional methods through our mother Susan who we all watched and learned from while she took care of our nieces and nephews.

Soon after the baby’s arrival, Lynda expertly wrapped her new baby in a traditional Waspoosiyan. A Waspoosiyan is a small heavy blanket, lined with moose hide stringers. It resembles a big shoe. First the baby is wrapped in thin blankets to bind the arms and legs firmly. The wrapped child is then placed inside the Waspoosiyan, where it is then wrapped again and secured with the moose hide stringers.

A baby, especially a newborn, is most comfortable when it is bound and wrapped in warmth and layers. The fetus spent all its time inside a womb where it was engulfed in the warmth of its mother.

Thousands of years ago it dawned on my people that it made sense to create a system of wrapping the baby in the same manner as when it was in the womb. The Waspoosiyan is an ingenious design and it really works. Newborn Orion seemed agitated and cried whenever he was exposed naked to the open air. As soon as he was wrapped in a Waspoosiyan, he went back to sleep without a care in the world.

The Waspoosiyan is also a convenient package for the parents. Since the baby is wrapped securely, there is never any need to adjust blankets to keep the child warm. There is also no worry of the baby getting exposed or smothered and the hands and arms are tucked away to keep the child from scratching.

The Waspoosiyan really came in handy as I watched Joseph and Lynda getting ready to fly home from Timmins to Attawapiskat. The baby was content and secure as they easily moved him around the busy airport.

Orion’s arrival in Attawapiskat was greatly anticipated and he was the star of the day. Mom and my sisters had been waiting to share their knowledge, skills and abilities in taking care of small infants.

This traditional knowledge is also being passed down to the grandchildren in our family who are learning through example of how to care for a baby. Many of the grandkids are now teenagers, which was the age myself and my younger brothers were when we saw our first nieces and nephews come into our family. One advantage of a large family is that there is never a shortage of babysitters.

Orion had a very welcoming beginning into this world. We never think of the day of a child’s birth as a birthday celebration. Rather we think of this day as a medical or hospital event. When Orion was born, Joseph was there to see the birth. The medical staff and nurses were very supportive and helpful and they actually sang out Happy Birthday to the newborn right there in the delivery room.

Lynda and Joseph and the rest of the extended family up north wish to say Chi-Meegwetch to Dr. Sharon Laval and her staff at the Timmins and District Hospital for all their assistance. Happy Birthday Orion and many, many more.