First Nations

The time I spent in Niagara was good, it was not cheesy and, despite the developers best effort to ruin the scenery it has kept most of its wonder.

It’s time to leave now, heading north and then west over the lakes traversing all of the vast Province of Ontario on the way to Winnipeg in Manitoba, the fifth of the seven provinces of Canada that I’m aiming to see.

The journey promised not much and I started getting bored after a few hundred kilometres so I had to take silly pictures to amuse myself, luckily the opportunities were there. Then something unexpected, as often it does, happened.

Trying to beat a 10″ timer and failing.
And then succeeding ­čÖé
Getting into First Nations Territory

As i got to Tobermory, where I was planning to spend the night, I discover that the ferry is just about to leave and that the ferries the following day are all booked. I jump on the ferry, and, after a momentary panic of having got on the wrong ferry, I realise that I am going to spend the night on the island of Manitoulin.

This Island is a magic place in many ways and it brought me wonder, a chance encounter and contact with the native culture in a way that I was not expecting.

As I parked the bike on the deck of the ferry I met Tim a member of the Oneida Nation. Tim is a wonderful guy, thirty something, troubled and proud of his indian heritage. We spent the whole two hours on the ship sharing life stories. For my part it was just the well rehearsed recalling of my lost love and race away from myself. He, coming out of a big accident that cut short is firefighting career was on his way to rekindle contact with his people and on a tour of apology towards all the people he had hurt while he was lashing out at the injustice of life.

He told me a lot about his people, their creed and some of the teaching of his culture. I will not go into all the origin stories and the moral teaching but will tell you one that struck a cord with me.

His people believe that each of us comes into this world with a gift. Our duty is to share this gift with the world. This gift is like our inner fire and when we are whole this fire burns strong allowing us to heat up the people around us. Sometimes in life we are hit by something tragic and that is like when you hit a fire with a big stick. Have you ever done it? Ever seen what happens? The fire breaks up, the cinders dispersed in a radius make the fire weak and unable to shine. What happens next is that the people that love us and are most close to us, if we let them, come around and, one by one pic up the cinders and gather them again, making the fire whole and strong again. He was talking about himself, about how he did not let the people close to him help him, and how in the process he hurt them. He might as well have been talking about me. I’m sorry.

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Quite a bit of road with very little happening for a very long time.
Looking back on the lake
Which looks like a sea.
Tim and his bike.

Tim and I rode together for thirty kilometres after we landed on the island, I left him to get to the campsite, he was meeting a friend and staying at his place further on and we agree to see each other the following day at Wikwemikong where his people were having the annual Powwow, the ceremonial meeting of the tribe.

I got to the campsite and, given the fabulous evening I went for a swim in the lake. I have now swum in lakes in four different continents.

Camping in paradise
Cleanest water ever.
And the kids were having a whale of a time.

I got to Wike, that’s how they shorten the name of the place, by lunchtime and watched the Grand Entrance, the cerimonial starting of the Powwow. The sound and the images were amazing and I could not stop myself from taking pictures. Believe it or not this is a subset of the ones I shot.

After the Entrance I wondered a bit and met Tim. We ewnt to visit some of his friends and had a bite to eat together before I returned to the campsite.

The master of procession stand
And the whole circle
Getting ready for the grand entrance
Parading 1
Parading 2
Colours galore
Dancing and not
Saluting the veterans
Now the competition heats up
With amazing costumes
And more
And more
And amazing moves
Amazing fethers
Difficult to understand for the new comers.
And there is one with bow and arrows
But many more without
Some with Tomahawks
And, I am told, a medicine man
One carrying an eagle banner
But also women and children
Some things cross cultural oceans
More stunning child costumes.
A detail of the eagle on the top of the stand
And let’s not forget the older people

Leaving Wike I did a bit of sightseeing and stopped in a few spots trying to capture the magic of the land, unsuccessfully me thinks.

Parking on the bay next to Lake Huron on the way back
And capturing the original camping tent.
The spirit of the bay
Giant runes 1
Giant rune 2
Giant rune 3
Dream catcher symbol of Wikwemikong

Back at the camp a did quite a bit of stuff on the computer, these days I have a remarkable jet lag in the posting and writing. As I was doing this a gentleman in his sixties sat across from me in the table in front of reception where the wifi signal was stronger. Aldo, an Italian emigrant that came to Canada with his family when he was two told me a lot about his rather interesting life of a piano bar musician and we parted agreeing that I was going to go and visit him at nine in the evening at his caravan where he was going to light a fire and play some music.

On my way up I noticed however the splendid light coming from the lakefront and when I went to inspect I discovered that the sun was setting offering a pretty special show. Could I miss it?

Stunning sunset at the campsite
I always think it’s better with just the right amount of clouds
Sailing into the sunset, or at an angle to it.
Aldo and his music.

An hour or so went by listening to Aldo play and sing the keyboard first and the accordion later, it’s remarkable how many interesting chance encounters you make when you travel alone. I wonder if it’s the same when you travel in group, I wonder if I will ever find out.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jimmy. says:

    We enjoyed Tim’s story. Food for thought.

  2. Alex says:

    Yes, food for thought indeed.

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