Dedicated to my mother, Annie Mianscum Neeposh (1928-2007)
Mother’s Day always fills my heart with a burst of emotions. It reminds me of the love and the kindness of the most important woman of my childhood, my mom! That Sîkun special day is usually perfect for honouring mothers throughout the world, but I would like to use this tribute today to recognize the beauty and the courage of our Cree mothers.
I am pretty sure that most of you can remember the time when becoming a new mom, it can only be learned by your family and women of the community. For those who might never know that period, try to imagine… giving birth in the bush, without a doctor, too far away from a hospital. Amazing how they can extract and spit out mucus from their child’s nose, no nasal plastic pump back then, unbelievable that they found that fish broth could be a perfect replacement of maternal milk. I still wonder how they could raise so many children without books, television or Internet?
I do remember seeing my mom in the bush, raising nine daughters and four sons and becoming a perfect mother through traditional adoption for so many others. If I close my eyes, I can see her, smiling and singing while she was hunting, preparing the food, tanning the animal skins, sewing, cleaning, preparing the wood, smoking fish, providing tender loving care, always there for everybody. She was the kind of woman who could change a life with some advice, a little help or an encouraging smile. Her courage was her gift to a whole community, by seeing her passing through the lost of a son, sickness, death of her husband and so much difficulties without being discouraged, always giving the priority to the well being of her family. She taught her children the importance of a mother’s role.
Being a Cree mother was quite difficult back in those days – one foot in the traditional way to raise a family and the other one in the new reality. Cree women needed to become superwomen; they needed to be a teacher, a confident, a psychologist, efficient at work, juggle with new technology, Internet, smart phone, video games, and so much more. They are also role models, some quit drugs and alcohol, went back to school and changed their way of life to become that superwoman.
Today, I would like to show my appreciation to my sisters, my nieces, cousins and all Cree mothers. Thank you for being the keepers and teachers of our traditional ways. Thank you for showing the importance of being proud of what we are to future generations. Most of all, thank you for your devotion and your love. Thank God for you!
I once heard a legend that explained the whole meaning of being a mother…
It happened a long, long time ago. In the deepest country of eternal ice, a beautiful young woman, Mimi (Dove), was living alone with her mother Sâcihîwewin (Love). The mother was so proud of her daughter that she was promised to Whiskeychansh (gray jay), the son of their respected chief. All of the clan was preparing for the festivities, they were hunting, picking the first fruits of the year. The lovebirds were to get married on the next full moon, and that would bring luck and happiness to the couple.
In a cavern, far, far away from their little heaven on earth, the wicked sorcerer Mid-dow decided that since he was getting old, he needed descendants to continue his reign of terror. For that, he would need the most gorgeous woman on earth. She would need to be pure, graceful and smart. He made a snake-heart potion to know where he could find that perfect spouse. The potion revealed the name of his future wife, because she had a pure heart, pale skin, long dark hair and green eyes, gifts received from the dove, they named her Mimi. He decided to leave his cavern immediately and marry her at any cost. He cast a spell to travel directly to that small village.
When the villagers noticed that a suspicious man appeared out of a black cloud, the warriors encircled him, they didn’t like the bad vibration coming from the sorcerer. “My name is Mid-dow. I am a powerful sorcerer and I have come here to get married to Mimi. This is her destiny, don’t try to do anything if you don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
Of course, Whiskeychansh disagreed. He lifted his bow and arrow and aimed at the sorcerer, followed by everyone in the tribe. “Don’t even think about it, she is my fiancée. If you want her, you will need to fight.” Before they could even shoot the first arrow, Mid-dow cast a spell and turned all the men into gray birds.
The sorcerer was sure that he wouldn’t have any problems taking his future wife with only women around. “Give me Mimi! I will kill anyone who will try to do anything. You just saw that you can’t fight my power. She is not engaged anymore.”
Sâcihîwewin was petrified by his demonic laugh. She was trying to find a way to save her daughter. She knew that other women were too scared to try anything. She closed her eyes and said a prayer. “Please God help me find a way to save Mimi. With your love and prayers on my side, nothing’s impossible.”
With all her courage, Sâcihîwewin proposed something to Mid-dow. “Oh mighty sorcerer, Mimi is my only daughter, just give me the time it will take for the whale-grease candle to burn by itself to prepare her for your wedding.”
Mid-dow thought twice about her proposition and couldn’t find a reason to refuse. “I agree on your demand Sâcihîwewin, you have my word.”
Sâcihîwewin took a deep breath and with a smile, blew out the candle. “It will never burn by itself now, we have your words sorcerer.”
Mid-dow screamed in rage, “You tricked me, you witch.”
Sâcihîwewin answered, “Get lost, Mid-dow, you will never forget that the power of a mother’s love will always be stronger than any powerful magic spell, curse or sorcery.”
As soon as Mid-dow vanished, all the warriors returned to normal. Mimi said, “I will never forget this mother that you risked your life to save mine.”
And Sâcihîwewin replied with relief and tears in her eyes, “I am just a mother.”
The legend says that Whiskeychansh, became the new chief of the tribe and proclaimed on his wedding day: “Every year, brothers and sisters, on the Sîkun new moon, we will celebrate the most wonderful love on earth – a mother’s love.”
On this special day, be sure to do something special for your mother, don’t wait until it’s too late… I miss you mom xxx
P.S. Please, don’t forget the forever-eternal mother, the one who gave us air, food and water. Mother Earth, respect her and love her, like we always did and wish to do so, agooda? God bless!