By: Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith
Toronto: On Wednesday February 14, 2018, the 13th Annual Strawberry Ceremony was held at Toronto Police Headquarters. The event is a way for community members and non Indigenous allies to gather and honour Indigenous Women, Girls, Trans and Two-Spirit people who have died violent and premature deaths.
As the sounds of drums resonated throughout the ceremonial space, I stood there and witnessed the togetherness of everyone around me. When one of the victim’s mothers started to cry, a community member went up and comforted her. It is here I was reminded that no one is alone. Shortly after Elder Wanda Whitebird said a prayer and everyone took part in the drinking of cups of water and eating a strawberry.
In the Ojibway language, strawberries are called ode’min. Ode means heart and strawberries are known to be a women’s medicine because when you cut it in half, it is in the shape of a heart. It is our hearts that are at the centre of our ceremony to honour the Missing and Murdered. Water is our life giver because we spend our first nine months in our mother’s stomachs encased in life giving water. Women play a central role in the Indigenous family.
The event was organized by Toronto’s February 14th Organizing Committee comprised of No More Silence, the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Maggie’s, Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre and other Indigenous and feminist organizations and community members.
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