Joyful Noise

Laughter is the best medicine as they say, and seems to be the elixir of choice for many Ongwehon:we.

A few years ago we were invited to a birthday party for our ‘cousints’ the Martins.

If you have never heard a Martin laugh you haven’t heard the music of pure joy, let alone a house full of Martins all laughing together.

It’s wonderful! A Martin’s laugh is like an explosive high pitched firework show. It is also contagious.

You can’t help but be buckled over holding your guts when you are with them.

Everyone wants to sit at our table when we get together, even at funerals. I will never forget when we celebrated the life of Norma Martin and her children gathered for fellowship afterward.

The hall was overflowing with that good medicine, and there is nothing like laughter to clear the spiritual congestion that grief brings. It was an homage to the love and joy Norma gave all those children. It is an honor to know them.

Life as an Indigenous person living within the territory of the corporation of Canada comes with it’s own complexities.

We are born as Ongwehon:we into a political situation whether we like it or not, and the ignorance of the general non-indigenous population about the true history of the story of Canada can add a grievous weight to walking as allies in the Two Row Wampum.

Add to this a dash of life, such as illness or financial issues and at times it feels like we Ongwehon:we are primed for struggle right from the start.

There has got to be some relief!

Early this year I made it to MidWinter ceremonies. I was there for O’stowa gowa.

I had just come through my cancer experience and I wanted to mark it with a new beginning.

I walked in through the doors and managed to wedge my way into the circle.

We started dancing and all of a sudden I could hear yelping and hollering.

I looked across the crowd and there was my Uncle Steve and my ‘cousints’ just being silly and making everybody laugh.

The mood lifted. Everyone was dancing, laughing, nodding hello and enjoying themselves.

At the same time, everyone going around the stoves had it in their minds that through the motions, they were making a joyful offering to the Creator.

Later on I was talking to my dad and he said part of our responsibility in O’stowa gowah is to show Shogwayadishoh how grateful we are for the blessings of the year, and how we anticipate His blessings moving forward into the next.

The Creator wants to see his people happy!

Sometimes I wonder if the Creator has given us these gifts of dancing hard and explosive laughter as medicine for our suffering together as a nation because he knew that it was going to be a hard journey?

Did he know these medicines would be essential for our hearts?

The idea that ‘He-who-created-our-bodies’ sent respite for our endurance, to be able to walk out our responsibilities with grace, brings my heart peace. And those things in practice, great laughter and dancing hard, give us the strength to go forward with a good mind.

By Nahnda Garlow

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