The Opening Ritual of the 2019 Chapter began with an ‘acknowledgement of the land.’ This was explained to capitulars by Chantal Chagnon Greyeyes, a Cree Ojibwe Métis singer and storyteller. She officially welcomed everyone to the territory which is the home of the Nitsitapi or Blackfoot People.
Chantal explained that to acknowledge the land has a greater significance than one might at first realise because in doing so we are acknowledging the history of the land that has been there for thousands and thousands of generations. We are not just visitors to the land, but we are one with it.
What she wears is also important. It is not a costume! Patterns and colours are important, with families having their own, telling others, which family or group they belong to. The sash she wears also has a meaning – it represents a ‘bridge’ between the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.
She then sang two songs to welcome everyone, again explaining, that as soon as you ‘arrive’ you are welcomed into a community – you are now part of that relationship created by a treaty which is a promise to share land and take joint responsibility for it, a promise to come together, grow together, learn from one another and build community together.
The traditional welcome song is made up of four parts to represent the fours directions of the earth. The song she sang for us was made up of three parts, because everyone completes the circle which has no beginning or end and in which, all are equal participants.
You can listen to the Cree Welcome Songs here.