The rich cultural relationship between Pikangikum First Nation people and fire in the Whitefeather Forest will soon be on display at the Red Lake Heritage Centre. Art and research are being brought together to celebrate this relationship.
The display will feature paintings created by the gifted young Ojibway artist from Pikangikum, Mario Peters. His paintings will highlight knowledge and teachings about fire from the rich Indigenous Knowledge tradition and the Keeping the Land stewardship tradition of Pikangikum people. This information has been brought together through the collaborative documentation efforts of Pikangikum Elders, Head Trappers, and other community members renowned for their knowledge of the Whitefeather Forest. They have been working with a PhD student from the University of Manitoba, Andy Miller.
Peeshaskoosaywahseegay – Burning the dead grass in the early spring
along creeks and marshes
Geeminozahgeegink – for the land to grow beautifully
Fire has been an important feature of life for Pikangikum people in the Whitefeather Forest for countless generations. As Elder Whitehead Moose from Pikangikum has noted, stories about the fire and the Whitefeather Forest have been passed on among Pikangikum people since forests were placed on the land and the ancestors of Pikangikum people placed in those forests by the Creator.
Until now, much of the cultural tradition of Pikangikum people related to fire has remained largely invisible to the larger world. The display at the Red Lake Heritage Centre will feature not only how Pikangikum people have lived with fire in the Whitefeather Forest and not only how fire has provided them with heat with which to stay warm and cook, but how they have also used fire as a landscape management tool to enrich the diversity and abundance of life in the Whitefeather Forest. Pikangikum Elders and other Indigenous Knowledge experts from the community believe that their knowledge of fire will support Forest Management Planning in the Whitefeather Forest that incorporates their Keeping the Land stewardship approach.
Posted: September 15, 2008.
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The Whitefeather Forest lies within ancestral lands of the people of Pikangikum First Nation in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.
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