For Millennia, we have walked the tradition of life. Today we still follow in the footsteps of our ancestors. Although we cannot follow in the exact same steps as those that have passed, we try to instill in our young people what our Elders have taught us.
Our children are our future, and they know what we feel some times. We teach them in our daily lives, and that is how they will live. The Walking Out ceremony is a tradition that is important, special in our lives, as Crees, and important that we should pass it on. We love our children as they are, and we know that they are the future. For Millennia, we were taught the Walking Out Ceremony, as we are the ones to see where we are to go. The children we bring up are those who see where we are to go in the future. They must continue our traditions, teachings, as our Grandfathers taught us. The roles that were passed on by those who lived in the Cree Way, are those taught in the Walking Out Ceremony.
We practice what we have learned, as I witnessed in Conn River, Kapishkopshkasheech, in the Cree Nation of Eastmain Territory. The children taught me much on this “Special day” where they themselves did role-playing that they must have learned through observation and teachings. I cannot express totally, how I felt when I saw them do this, but powerful to my heart it was. I know now that we must have done something right, as I know now that our children learned what they were taught.
The Walking Out Ceremony has been central in our lives as Crees, in that it brings us together. We have known through our ancestors’ teachings that this must go on, as we are people who know love, understanding and sharing. We as Peoples have done this every year, and know that we must keep it going as we all are human beings with caring hearts and faith in Creation. We were taught in the right way, and our children showed us we are going in the right direction, as they did the Walking Out in Conn River, on May 13.
Originally, they had done the ceremony on their own, by playing the roles of parents, grandparents, and doing all the work involved in the preparation of the Ceremonial Teepee, and the preparation of the flooring and the dress of the “Children,” dolls that they used to do the role-playing of an actual ceremony. This was on Sunday the 8th of May, where Beth June Weapinecappo had conceived the idea of doing the “Walking Out,” where they prepared Peter Weapinecappo Junior to be the Male Parent, doing the Walking Out for “Cory,” and Grace Lynne Weapinecappo being the Female Parent for the Walking Out for “Lynn.”
They had all worked together to prepare the Teepee, and had invited the family group of the Weapinecappos to witness the ceremony that they had planned and worked hard to prepare for. John Weapinecappo, 78, had been told that there would be a Walking Out Ceremony, but he had thought that it was a Walking Out for a child from the East Side of the camp where the Mark-Stewarts, Tomatuks, and Marks have their cabins. He was surprised that it was his grandchildren that were role-playing in the make believe Walking Out that was being performed. When I heard about this, later on that day, I had to ask the parents of Peter Junior, and Grace Lynn Weapinecappo that they had to do it again, for this story I wish to share with you all.
The ceremony was repeated for the whole camp’s benefit, since most had missed it when it was done originally. Lorraine, Stella, and Sandra Weapinecappo helped the young people prepare the teepee and the site. I was touched by the thought of our children doing this on their own, and doing most of the ceremony in the correct way, where they passed out candies and kissed the children inside the teepee, acting as the elders.
In the words of Florrie Mark-Stewart, “It is nice to see that our children have learned what they have witnessed and what they have been taught about the Cree Ways, I feel proud and honoured to have witnessed this.” The other Elder present, John Weapinecappo, said it in this way, “The teachings of the Walking Out are very important, and have been passed on through the generations, this is true Cree teaching.”
The following children, ranging in age from 5 to 13 years old, were responsible for the preparation: Beth June Weapinecappo, Charlene Weapinecappo, Clarissa Weapinecappo, Peter Weapinecappo Jr., Cassandra Weapinecappo, Shannon Weapinecappo, Faith Tomatuk, Celine Weapinecappo (pulled the string for the Goose-Decoy being shot), Celina Weapinecappo and Grace Lynn Weapinecappo.
Indeed, it was a special day as I know that others felt the same way as I did, touched in the heart by witnessing these young people do what has always been a Cree Tradition since Millennia. I know that the struggles and problems that we face everyday in our lives as Cree people are many. However, there is always hope that we can always stand up to face the future with pride and strength in what the Creator has given us, as I witnessed in Conn River, Kapishkopshkasheech.