In 1997, a few friends began to gather regularly to discuss various aspects of Anishinabe Spirituality. As we learned more and more, we decided to create a community training program to re-introduce local Indigenous people to some of our Cultural Traditions. We delivered our workshops to a select group in June 1998, and although not all participants embraced the Teachings, those who did, did so whole-heartedly.
Our workshops included Teachings by an Elder working with Kumik Lodge (Indigenous Affairs Canada) who agreed to provide us with the Teachings about building a Sweat Lodge, and then to conduct the ceremony for us. We followed her instructions will all our hearts, but regardless, our entrance did not open to the East, which had been the plan; instead, it opened to the South. “The Direction of the Turtle,” she told us, “your Lodge is for Healing.” Thus, our Turtle Lodge came to be.
While still in the glow of ‘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 the Anishinabe Culture and Traditions as a means to enable healing to occur in our community.
Here are some of the projects that we have undertaken since then:
– Anishnabe 101 – a primer for anyone wanting to learn about our Indigenous Culture; first published in 2000, now on our 9th printing.
– ‘Getting the Basics’ Cultural Retreat in 2003 at Camp Lutherlyn on Golden Lake; sunrise ceremonies, teachings, feasts, circles.
– ‘Anishinabikwe Rising’ Program in 2009-10 – a series of travelling workshops to introduce Indigenous Women to Talking Circles and Moon Ceremonies. ‘Anishinabikwe Rising’ Artwork by Pearl Cameron; Turtle by Sylvia Tennisco.
– ‘Anishinabikwe Rising II’ Program in 2011-12 – a series of workshops on Traditional Arts & Crafts held at the Golden Lake Camp in Deacon for Indigenous Women from across the Ottawa Valley.
– ‘Reviving the Clan System’ Program – a series of travelling Talking Circles to introduce the Clan System of Traditional Anishinabe Governance, and to discuss how it might be used today.
Our mission, since 1999, has been to revive, promote, and restore the Traditional Culture and Teachings of the Indigenous People of the Ottawa Valley. In recent years, we refined our focus to helping Indigenous People access Ceremony and Teachings from Traditional Elders and Spiritual Leaders, which we hope will help with the healing process of all. We’ve been working on this change for a while, but received word late in 2015 that our application to become a Registered Charity had been approved. Should you or anyone in your Circle wish to support our mission, donations can be made directly to us, or online through Canada Helps.
We are governed by an elected/appointed Board of Trustees and are subject to an annual audit/financial review. Our Trustees for 2017 are: Aimee Bailey (Algonquin), Annie Parker (Mohawk), Norma Bailey (Algonquin), Pat Strong (Cree/Metis), and Skip Ross (Algonquin). Only members can become trustees; only persons of Indigenous Heritage can become members. Our office of record is 13162B Hwy 60, Golden Lake, Ontario K0J 1X0, but our events take place in various places around the area.