BY GREG LOWENTHAL
Cold air mixed with the sound of music and storytelling. Live demonstrations of making maple syrup. The bright colours of traditional native costumes.
These were just some of the sights and sounds of Maple Month held on Sunday at the Bradley Museum in Mississauga. This week’s event was called Walking the Land-Celebrating First Nations. Among the First Nations in attendance were the Mississaugas of the New Credit and the Shawanaga First Nations.
The event featured activities such as a wishing wheel, drilling for maple sap using a hand drill, a horseshoe making demonstration, a demo of making maple candy and a guided tour of how maple syrup was produced back in the 1800s. The gift shop also featured various handmade items.
Part of the guided tour included a stop in the main section of the museum, where the exhibits featured were about Susanna Moodie, a poet who emigrated to Canada in the early 1800s.
She was an aristocrat and when she moved to Canada, she did what other settlers did and started working the land to grow crops.
On the walls of the museum were many of her poems as well as artifacts representing her dual citizenship in the country.
According to Stewart Keeler, museum curator for the Mississauga Museum Systems, there is lots for people to experience.
Keeler said the big draw of the festival is people learning about the legend and the lore of maple, including the native storyteller
“I think there’s a lot of interest in the aboriginal culture of Mississauga and this will help people establish a relationship with the aboriginal community of Mississauga.”
Also featured in the event were various native items including a smudge pot used in ceremonies, various handmade items such as moccasins and various herbs such as bear root, which is similar to ginger and can be chewed to help soothe the throat. It’s also used in a pipe along with other traditional herbs.
In attendance was Kim Wheatley, a member of the Shawanaga First Nations, who is a singer and uses her songs to tell stories.
“I am a traditional singer and a storyteller. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I tell stories about the beings that exist on the Earth, beings that exist in the sky, the relationships we have to each other and our indigenous way of knowing.”
Different events are held each week as part of Maple Family Sundays. The event dates and times are listed on the City of Mississauga’s website.