Northumberland County celebrates Ode'miin Giizis (the Strawberry Moon) on National Indigenous Peoples Day

From feeling the beat of live drumming to learning about the history of the Michi Saagiig peoples, Northumberland County residents can partake in an upcoming Indigenous celebration in Cobourg.

To mark National Indigenous Peoples Day on Friday (June 21), the Northumberland County EarlyON Centres and the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre, in collaboration with Alderville First Nation, are hosting a free Indigenous cultural event from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Cobourg Community Centre at 750 D'Arcy Street.

The event, which is open to the public and suitable for all ages, is designed to offer community members with an opportunity "to experience the richness and diversity of Indigenous culture," Northumberland County noted.

Themed as the "Ode'miin Giizis (Strawberry Moon) Celebration," Indigenous leaders will take the lead for the event, which features interactive activities, singing and food, in addition to the drumming and presentations on the history of the Michi Saagiig peoples.

Called Ode'miin Giizis in Anishinaabemowin (the Anishinaabe language), the Strawberry Moon is the first full moon of summer and, this year, it falls on National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. The Anishinaabe keep track of the seasons by the moons, with Ode'min Giizis the sixth moon of the calendar. It marks the beginning of summer, the longest day of the year, and the harvest of the strawberry in June. The root word of ode'min is "ode," which signifies the heart in Anishinaabemowin, with the strawberry resembling the shape and colour of the heart.

"Understanding and appreciating Indigenous culture is crucial for fostering reconciliation and mutual respect in our community," said Brian Ostrander, warden of Northumberland County, in a media release.

"On National Indigenous Peoples Day, I encourage everyone to take the time to learn, reflect, and act in support of our shared responsibilities as Treaty people," Ostrander added. "This event will be an opportunity to learn and engage with Indigenous traditions and to acknowledge our shared responsibilities to respect and uphold the treaty rights and privileges we all enjoy today. This means recognizing the importance of these agreements and working together towards reconciliation by honouring our commitments and building a more inclusive community for everyone."

Anishinaabeg Nation Southeast Regional Chief Marsha Smoke will provide a territorial welcome. Sarah Lewis of Curve Lake First Nation, who was Nogojiwanong-Peterborough's inaugural poet laurete, will share Indigenous poetry and its teachings.

There will be songs and drumming by Rod Nettagog of Henvey Inlet First Nation, and presentations on the history of the Michi Saagiig peoples by Brian Beaver from Alderville First Nation. The event also includes many interactive activities for young children and displays for people of all ages, the release noted.

"Building strong partnerships and engaging in cultural education is key to honoring Indigenous traditions and creating a more inclusive community," said Cynthia Gray, program manager at the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre.

"This celebration is a testament to the power of collaboration and the richness of Indigenous heritage. We look forward to celebrating at the Ode'miin Giizis (Strawberry Moon) Celebration, deepening everyone's understanding and appreciation of Indigenous culture and history, and supporting the path of reconciliation."

A few highlights of the event include:

- Welcome to the territory at 3:05 p.m.
- Strawberry (Ode'miin) welcome and teaching at 3:15 p.m.
- History of Alderville First Nation and the Michi Saagiig peoples at 3:50 p.m.
- Indigenous poetry and teachings at 4:40 p.m.
- Words, drumming and singing (Supported by Loyalist College) at 5:15 p.m.
- Ode'miin Giizis Indigenous event activities
- Indigenous history
- Interactive Indigenous activities for children
- Singing and drumming
- Listen and learn about Ojibwe Language
- Experience Indigenous food
- Create a Ode'miin Giizis coloured button
- Review Ode'miin Giizis information displays
- Peruse Alderville First Nation history books for sale
- See other displays ranging from Indigenous medicine to Indigenous education and more.

The Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre strives to enhance the quality of life for Indigenous people in the City of Peterborough and the surrounding area. It strives to provide a place of acceptance and well-being for urban Indigenous people through a wide range of community-based programs and services.

Alderville First Nation, a thriving community that is rich in heritage and native culture, is located on the south side of Rice Lake, approximately 30 kilometres north of Cobourg. The First Nation has approximately 300 members who live in Alderville, and another 650-plus members who reside elsewhere.

Other events to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day are also taking place across the region on June 31, including a celebration from 1 to 5 p.m. at Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre at 580 Cameron Street in Peterborough. The celebration will feature a sacred fire, craft and activities, vendors, strawberry teachings, and a community meal at 4 p.m.

Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, KawarthaNOW