My name is Destiny Chescappio. I was born in Maniwaki, Quebec, where my mother Grace Brennan is originally from, an Algonquin reserve called Kitiganzibi. My father’s name is James Chescappio. He was born in Schefferville, Quebec and later moved to a new reservation called Kawawachikamach, where the population is close to 900.
I now live in Kawawachikamach. I moved here with my parents and my sister when I was 17 months old. I go to the Jimmy Sandy Memorial School, which is the school in the community.
I first started traditional dancing when I was 7 years old. In 2005, my community Kawawachikamach hosted the Elders gathering. Other Native communities in Quebec were there to witness and tell stories about different Native traditions and cultures. Many Elders sang with the traditional drum.
John Schecanapish, a Naskapi Elder, gave me my Native name ᐛᐸᓄᑕᐎᔅᒂᔅ, Wapindao, which means coming on dawn young lady. A special ceremony took place when I danced by myself while the Elder John Schecanapish sang and played the traditional drum. Other Elders later joined in and danced along with me.
Walking out ceremonies also took place with babies. Branches were placed at the entrance for them to walk out the teepee for the first time. The toddlers were dressed up in hunter outfits. As the ceremony came to close, a bunch of geese flew above the ᓴᐳᑐᐛᓐ and flew towards the south and on that evening a feast was held inside the ᓴᐳᑐᐛᓐ, and on that same night the northern lights shone and danced above the ᓴᐳᑐᐛᓐ with the most spectacular colors that I have ever seen.
With that, I want to say that I’m proud to be an Algonquin and a Naskapi.