In 1997, a few friends began to gather regularly to discuss
various aspects of Anishnabe spirituality. As we learned more
and more, we decided to create a community training program
which would re-introduce people of Anishnabe descent to some
of our cultural traditions. We delivered our workshops to
a. select group in June of 1998, and although not many embraced
the teachings, those who did, did so whole-heartedly.
Our workshops included teachings by an Elder from Kumik
Lodge (Department of Indian Affairs & Northern Development,
Hull) who agreed to provide us with the Teachings of the Sweatlodge
and then to conduct a ceremony for us. We followed her instructions
for building a sweatlodge with all our hearts, but regardless,
our entrance did not open to the East which had been the plan;
instead, it faced South. “The Direction of the Turtle”
she told us, “your Lodge is for Healing.” Thus,
Turtle Lodge came to be.
In the glow of peace and ceremonial consciousness after participating
in the Sweat Lodge Ceremony, and the Feast that followed,
four of our group, all women, lingered on at the site. “We
cannot let this end,” we said, “this is too good
to let go!” Of course, our management style would be
a circle, and so, The Circle of Turtle Lodge was born, to
promote the revival and restoration of our Anishnabe Culture
and Traditions as a means to enable healing to occur in our
Wondering where to begin, we realized that often people are
reluctant to participate in our Traditions simply because
they do not know what to do, or why its being done, and, even,
if its safe for them to take part. Our people have been tricked
into thinking that that ‘the Old Ways’ are ‘evil,’
even though they are quite good. So, it is not unusual for
our people to not know what to do – we have had no exposure
to our culture, and this knowledge is not something that we
are born with. Rather, knowing what to do in ceremony are
skills that can be learned and remembered through practice;
the more you do it, the better, and more comfortable, you
get at it. Good teachers will be open enough to explain why
something is being done.
We envisioned providing the community with cultural teachings
and traditional experiences in the coming years. In order
to make this happen, we spent the next year developing and
defining our organization into an independent body, fully
capable of carrying on the business of Cultural Training.
We became a Non-Profit Corporation in July of 1999.
The Circle of Turtle Lodge was created to:
- revive Aboriginal Culture and Traditions for Aboriginal
persons in Ontario;
- promote Aboriginal Culture and Traditions to non-Aboriginal
persons in Ontario; and,
- provide Cultural education to all persons who hold
a genuine interest in our Traditional Ways, with the
main focus being Aboriginal Women.
The Circle of Turtle Lodge promotes the teachings of our
Elders, our Ancestors, and All Our Relations. Currently, we
meet at each new moon and each full moon to honour Nokomis,
our Grandmother and to share the Women’s teachings of
each of the thirteen Moons.