The earliest recorded Mother’s Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. Later in the 1600s, “Mothering Sunday” was celebrated in England. This was done on the fourth Sunday of Lent (the 40-day period leading up to Easter), Mothering Sunday honored the mothers of England.

During this time many of England’s poor worked as servants for the wealthy. As most jobs were located far from their homes, the servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday the servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home and spend the day with their mothers. A special cake, called the mothering cake, was often brought along to provide a festive touch.

In the United States, Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace. Ms. Howe would hold organized Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, Mass every year.

In 1907, Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. Ms. Jarvis persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the second Sunday of May. By the next year Mother’s Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia.

Ms. Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessman and politicians in their quest to establish a national Mother’s Day. It was successful as by 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.

The role of a mother has changed drastically since that Sunday in May, 1907. In today’s society, many women not only work but are homemakers as well as mothers. In the Cree world there are more and more single parents and they must play the role

of both mother and father. This is a big challenge and Cree women have risen to it well.

Divorce, death and single parenthood as well as the high cost of living made it necessary for women to work. Women today may work because they want to have a career and be independent. They want to have money to buy what they want when they want it. The busy life of a working mother is not an easy one. They have to ensure their children are in the hands of a responsible and loving caregiver.

Today, we celebrate Mother’s Day without giving much thought to its origin. But, just as Anna Jarvis did almost a century ago, we pay tribute to our mothers with honour, love and respect. Though mothers of today face new challenges, they are still the foundation of their homes and the Cree Nation.

Remember we will pay special tribute to our Mothers but throughout the year pick up the phone or drop by for a visit on a regular basis. This is the best gift you could give your mother. Oh, and don’t forget to give her a hug and tell her, “I love you Mom.” It will boost her spirit, bring a smile and make her feel special. Without our mothers we would not be where we are today.

More than 46 countries around the globe have a special day when they pay tribute to mothers. England still celebrates Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

International Mother’s Day is always celebrated on May 11, and Canada sets aside the second Sunday in May for Mother’s Day. The United States takes this holiday one step further and sets aside the fourth Sunday in October for Mother-In-Law Day.

Ideas for Mother’s Day

Many families begin Mother’s Day with breakfast in bed. Usually Dad and the kids will let mom sleep late as they go into the kitchen and prepare her favorite meal. A Mother’s Day breakfast can consist of anything your mom likes.

After the food is cooked, arrange everything nicely on a tray. Don’t forget the vase with a single flower. When everything is ready carefully carry the tray and mom’s favorite sections from the newspaper up to her bedroom. Cards and small presents from the children can be placed on the tray before it is presented to mom in bed.

But don’t think your work stops there.

Many families make a special Mother’s Day dinner (see Will on the Grill if you don’t have any ideas) or if you’re rich and lazy take mom out to her favorite restaurant for a meal. It is a good day to let your mom relax and let her see what a wonderful family she has.

Other ideas include:

1) Clean the entire house for her and she’ll think you are a saint.

2) Always thank her for the things she does for you like laundry, the dishes, etc.

3) If you’re a dad and forgot Valentines Day, here’s your opportunity to get out of the doghouse. Do something romantic. Part of that might be telling how beautiful she is and what you admire about her.

4) Create a scrapbook of some of the things that you did with her. Keep adding to it as the years go by so you’ll have great memories to help mom keep going. Have all the family make a top ten list of reasons why mom is the best to put in as well as photos and stories.

If you don’t have a lawn then plan one with mom. Pick out areas you might like a tree or two. The first thing you’ll need to do is get some peat moss, sawdust and worms. You can add some shredded newspaper if you want and add everything to the soil. This will create what is called a worm bed.

Most communities have little top soil and this will help to set the stage for growing a lawn as sand isn’t all that good. To this mixture add worms. You don’t have to buy them but can go to an existing place and get worms for free after a rain. Digging for them is optional.

When you have the worms you need to remember that a 75 per cent moisture level is required. This means watering a lot but also you can cover with black plastic to retain water and keep out the light. If you have done this you have created a worm composting system. It may take about six weeks before you notice a change.

To truly assist in the process you might want to make a compost heap which will make a very nice soil for you. It is where you take all you organic wastes like potato peelings and other vegetable matter as well as other food wastes (what you don’t eat) and throw them into a five gallon pail. Each full five gallon pail is good for one layer in the compost heap. You can add grass clipping and brush. A typical backyard compost heap has a holding pen four feet in diameter. If you see some place that has a lawn and throws out grass you can use up to 35 bags to fill your holding pen.

Every time you add a new layer it should be covered with

some of what you already have in the pen. Don’t worry the first time around, just let the stuff set until it turns dark or brown. Using a shovel or pitchfork mix the stuff around at least once a week.

When it becomes mulch (believe you’ll be able to figure this one out on your own) you can mix it into the soil.

Typical compost materials can be peat moss, grass clippings, leaves and twigs, flowers, old potting soil, weeds, fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags and coffee grinds, wood ashes, sawdust and wood chips, pet hair, your hair, eggs shells, manure and straw.

Woman in White

by Nellie M. Bearskin

Once I knew a woman, my mother, my mom with hair as long as the grass that grew along the river, hair as light-brown as the autumn leaves that fall. Eyes as light-brown as the sands near the river’s edge, eyes that sparkled like the early morning dew. Skin as white as the first snowflake that falls. Skin as soft as the clouds that pass over. Hands as soft as the grains of the white sands. Hands as soft as the grains of the white sands. Hands as gentle as the rustling of the birch leaves in a gentle breeze. Heart as bright as the dancing northern lights on a cold winter night. Heart as warm as the sun on a early summer day.

Once I knew a touch, a soft touch of warmth, of gentleness, of feeling snug in her embrace. Wiping my tears from my face. Hearing her words of comfort, hearing her whispers of love and care.

Once I knew the loss of a woman, my mother, my mom. Only a faded picture I hold. Forever gone, the touch, the feelings, the words, the whispers. Only to be imprinted in my heart forever I keep.

Now I know the hope of spirit. I see your hair in every blade of grass, in every autumn leaf that falls. I see your eyes in every sand grain along the river’s edge and in the sparkle of early morning dew. I feel your skin, when I feel the first snowflake upon my face and see the clouds, ever so soft, flowing across the sky. I feel your hands, as my feet gently caresses the white sands and hear the rustling of the birch leaves in the gentle breeze. I see and feel your heart when I look upon the skies and see the wonders of the universe.

Now I know the love of spirit. I feel your touch, a soft touch of warmth, of gentleness, of feeling snug in your embrace, as I lie on mother earth. I feel your hands, as the rain gently pours on my face, wiping away my tears. I hear your words of comfort in the rustling wind. I hear your whispers of love and care in the gentle breeze.

Now, I know a woman in white, my mother, my mom. Who left her physical body, left the earth plane, for her soul lives on forever. For her spirit lives in my heart, in everything I see. For her spirit will always be with me, giving me hope… love.

Dedicated to all my sisters, to all my friends; Caroline Jolly, Robbie Dick, Agnes Kawapit. And to all the people who have lost their mothers, their moms.

A gift with love: Happy Mother’s Day!