Waves of Grief and Healing 

Territory 2 Territory  – In anticipation of my second land-based wellness week, I was excited to spend some time with a dear elder friend, on the land, and accept her teachings on medicines. Unfortunately, just before my week was to begin, my husband and I received notification that my father-in-law’s health was fragile, and the family was called in to be by his side.  I had to cancel the outing that I had planned.

My father-in-law passed away on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, surrounded by love.  

I did not know how to maneuver the rest of the week. My heart was heavy, and I struggled to decide how to continue with the week that I had planned.  

As we travelled back to Dauphin on Wednesday, I realized that I needed to get onto the land, breathe in the fresh air and allow my grief to process.  

I spoke to David and asked him if he would like to join me. It was ultimately an amazing experience.  

Mid-afternoon, we took a drive to the Medicine Eagle Camp area in Riding Mountain.

Fall is my favorite season so going down the backroads with all the vibrant colors beginning to break through in the foliage, was the first step towards healing.  

Our time along the shores of Clear Lake, holding hands, noticing the intricacies of nature was beautiful.  We offered tobacco in several locations during our journey.  

Several times during our outing, we experienced moments that brought peace to our spirits. 

David recently received his spirit name, Turtle that Walks with Lightning.  We came upon a flower, a Hollyhock, planted by itself, in a very rocky space.  The flower was surrounded by stones that had been formed into the shape of a turtle.  Hollyhock symbolizes ambition which balances with the meaning that the elder gave David when he received his name.   

As we continued to walk, a dragonfly lit in front of my face, almost landing on my glasses.  Dragonflies have always been significant to me.  I have several integrated into my tattoos and many pieces of jewelry and art depicting dragonflies. Dragonflies symbolize transformation and change.  They remind you to connect with nature around you, and not neglect the spiritual part of yourself.  The dragonfly has its own set of colors painted on its body, which encourages you to appreciate authenticity and stay true to yourself.  

We spent time at the Okanese Cemetery site.  It is a very serine space, that at times put a heaviness in your heart while at the same time being peaceful.  We took some time in contemplation and lit a smudge. 

Grief and healing is a journey that takes time.  I lean on my Christian spirituality through each day of my life, praying and expressing gratitude for all that I have been given.  

I am also blessed to have received an understanding of Indigenous spirituality and how I can find a balance between those teachings and my faith. 

The day turned out to be exactly what we both needed.  

Thank you to all those that were involved in providing us with the opportunity to have this time.

Valerie McInnes – LLL Bundle Holder

Zoongi Gaabawa Keetahbih Mukwa (Strong Standing Circling Bear)