Vincent Design would like to acknowledge that we are in Treaty 1 territory and that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.
A Winter’s Break
Spending time outside, we feel the cold, we feel the heat from the fire, and are reminded that we are more than what we do on our own.
Sometimes the busyness takes over, with business getting in the way of what we truly value.
We’re looking for ways to be more than business as usual.
Getting outside is a way to get in touch with the land, even if the land is Joe Zuken Heritage Park, a five-minute walk from the Vincent Design offices in the Social Enterprise Centre. Getting together around the fire provided “an afternoon to wind down and feel thankful we are alive to do good work out there in the world,” said Elder and Knowledge Keeper Vern Dano, a friend of Vincent Design and provider of Indigenous Therapeutic Services.
As he built the fire, splitting wood into kindling and lighting it with one wooden match, Dano added sage, tobacco, cedar and sweetgrass to create a sacred fire. One by one, like the popcorn kernels he referred to us as, Vern asked us to share something difficult in our lives, along with something that was good. “Some kernels pop quickly,” he joked, “while others take their time.” After sharing, we put tobacco into the fire.
Vern also shared a story about porcupines finding a way to warm up together, despite their sharp quills, a lesson in being careful and gentle with those close to you, and that while many of us may be a little prickly, we’re vulnerable underneath our protective quills.
Shaun brought diamond willow tree bark to make tea. He harvested the bark earlier this winter with his children. Traditional Métis uses for willow trees include making wood pipe stems, sweat lodge frames, snares, nails, baskets, and snowshoe frames to tipi pins and the distinctive diamond willow walking stick. The tea was brewed over the fire and sweetened with local honey.
The many gifts of the willow tree remind us of the gifts we have to give from our generosity and respect.
We’re part of something bigger when we work together, part of a larger community around us, and a part of a great big world.