Faith In Family
My Grandmother’s name was Mary Waterchief. That was my Great Grandmother, and I just got to know her in the last four years.
There was a movie documented on her it's called “Okon” and it's about the Sundance. And Mary was well known across Canada and United States, and her message of working with people was to look at healing and a lot of people traveled from across Canada and United States just to see her to get that healing.
And the movie itself had a powerful impression on me to know that my ancestors going back three generations and spirituality and connection to the Blackfoot culture.
When this was happening I went to the Dream Catchers conference and that was in 97' or 98'. There was this workshop it was called “Getting to Know Your Spirit Guide” and that was really interesting because there was this woman working on me doing Reiki. And she said, “Just give you self permission to just relax and shut your eyes.” She said, "I’ll work on you,” and she said, “Just allow your mind to, whatever comes to you mind let it go through,” and so I was laying there and she began doing her Reiki and she looked at me and said, “Warren,” she said “there's someone in the room with us,” and she said, “She’s an old lady.” and she described her hair in a braid and she said, “She looked like she was caring loving individual,” and that she was placing her hands on hers to work on me and she said, “This is your grandmother and just to inform you that she loves you very much.”
And it was really ironic, shortly after that, the second part of that workshop that I went to they were telling me, everyone was telling their experiences, you know, telling the spirit guides.
And it just came to me since that three weeks had passed at work and I got a phone call from my mom she said, “I have a video for you I want you to see.” And it was a video of my Great Grandmother and she said, “This is her life story.” And it talked about, you know, the way she’s teaching the Sundance. She spoke on how to carry that through for four days.
And as I was watching I felt so empowered and I felt so impressed with the fact that amongst all the adversities that are community dealt with, like alcohol, you know, the different forms of adversities that we experienced like residential schools, the different forms of abuse.
I thought this was lady, a very honourable lady that people loved and respected and knew where to go when they needed that support and help.
I realized that, that is what I was doing, that I was in the healing field. It's because I’m carrying on that tradition. So I come from a background where my Grandparents were very strong in our Blackfoot culture and they participated in the Sundance’s and pow wows. In a lot of the rights that were given to a society member, she belongs to a society in our community. She is also in one of the highest ones which is “The Holy Woman Society” I thought that was really impressive to know that we grow up with many material things but you know in a spiritual sense that I was very wealthy that time because one generation passing on the legacy of spirituality and I believe that’s the reason why I’m in this field is because of that. That dedication and prayer that they had I believe that I am one of the survivors that I was able combat addiction and a lot of them didn’t.
The following stories are by Warren Winnipeg.
This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections Initiative, Industry Canada.