Windswept pine at sunset.

Celebrating the summer solstice at Killbear

Aanii kinaweya! Hello everyone!

Christine King n’dizhinikaaz, Wasauksing n’doonjibaa. My name is Christine King and I am from Wasauksing First Nation. I am a park naturalist at Killbear and have already learned so much in my first month in being at the park.

What a beautiful day we had here at Killbear Provincial Park for National Aboriginal Day (or as it is now known: National Indigenous Peoples Day) on June 21, 2017!

Growing up, I knew that we observed this date as Aboriginal Day and did something special within our community, whether a community luncheon with drumming and dancing, or a community feast. Today it is celebrated on a grander scale with festivals happening all across Canada.

Killbear staff at solstice celebration

The afternoon was opened with a welcoming and a land acknowledgement by Park Superintendent Dave Priddle, followed by a tobacco tie from Natural Heritage Education Leader Kenton Otterbein. The passing of tobacco signifies an offering to an individual who has something to share: on this day, it was to share information.

With an intimate crowd sitting in a circle, my mom and I shared a water ceremony and strawberries. We offer the water and strawberries to the Spirit of what we are about to share, and invite that Spirit to our space so that we share in a goodhearted and kind way. We sit in a circle to represent equality with everyone present and to feel the strength of the circle of the people.

staff and community member share strawberries

During niibin (summer) solstice, we give thanks for the rebirth and renewal of the season. We also celebrate the odemin (strawberry) because that was the first food from Creator that we received and it is also the first berry to arrive during the season.

As I reflect back on the afternoon, I am so thankful for the opportunity I have been given to share about Anishinaabeg (Indigenous people) and how we continue to celebrate the longest day of the year.

Christine in uniform at park

For me, living and working within a part of Creation has been a dream come true. I feel so connected to the land and really enjoy being on the land doing various activities.

I will be furthering my education in the Aboriginal Field of Study at Sir Wilfred Laurier University this fall, with a focus on connecting youth with land and culture-based activities. I enjoy learning in a diverse environment and sharing the knowledge that has been passed on to me through cultural teachings and ceremonies.

I hope to see you this summer at Killbear Provincial Park!