Ogemahkwe blog is a collective of Indigenous women sharing life stories of resilience, faith, passion, and love for Mother Earth and the people.

Aaniin, my name is Diane Maytwayashing. I’m an Anishinaabekwe and along with my family we live in the town of Seven Sisters Falls, Manitoba in the Whiteshell area. A group of us, grandmothers and mothers, have talked about setting up a blog to share the work we have been doing in the Whiteshell over the past years. Here it is, finally. We have so much to share as we’ve accomplished many milestones so far in the past few years. One of our greatest accomplishments was repatriating remains of ancient ancestors back into the Sacred Whiteshell. We’ll be sharing that story soon.

We have many dreams and visions for the future of the Whiteshell, and behind the scenes, we have our mini gatherings and ceremonies where we discuss ways to preserve and protect the wildlife, lands, waters, Ancestor burial sites, and the Petroforms in the Whiteshell.

Waabishki Miigis Aki, when translated in English means white shell earth. The Anishinaabemowin name Waabishki Miigis Aki came us to us through offerings of tobacco, feast food, and a pipe ceremony. The spirit name Waabishki Miigis Aki is the spirit name of the vast Whiteshell Park. In a sense, we are reclaiming our sacred land in a peaceful and spiritual manner.

The name of the Whiteshell Park derived from the white cowrie shell which is a sacred shell to the Anishinaabe people for many reasons. This is why the European settlers named the park ‘Whiteshell’ after learning of the Anishinaabe people’s stories of the white cowrie shell. The Whiteshell is indeed a place of great spiritual significance. The Whiteshell park is located on the Manitoba and Ontario border which is the heart of Turtle Island (Americas continent). Here is where Anishinaabeg call this area Manitouaabe which means where the spirit sits. There are numerous Petroforms sites throughout parts of Eastern Manitoba, and according to the Anishinaabeg these petroforms are the original instructions on how people were to live on Mother Earth.

We, grandmothers and mothers, have a strong vision to create a thriving Indigenous community in the Whiteshell living and learning the knowledge of the land and water, and having a connection with the Ancestors who once lived here and now buried here. Presently, we are focusing on an Indigenous community garden, Waabishki Miigis Aki Center, Aanikoobijiganag lodge, and acquire multi-acreages of land. The Indigenous community gardening project starts in May, we are super excited about this.

The update on the Whiteshell Center is that we have viewed cottages in the Whiteshell as potential sites for a Center, and found that there a couple that are a possibility but costly. In the Whiteshell large cottages, prices range from half a million to one million dollars and come with tiny land space. Most recently, our conclusion in the spirit of community is to build a Round House as the Whiteshell Center. Building a Round House together we are also building a stronger unity and community and creating a relationship with our sacred space. We have potential land areas in mind. We have not given up. We are working behind the scenes. We’re praying, putting out tobacco, and being guided as we move along in this journey.

We are very excited about the future. The Ogemahkwe blog is where we will share hopefully weekly updates of this sacred journey. We will continue to fundraise by sales of the 13 Moons Calendar and it was suggested we start an auction for action. Really, I don’t know where to start with an auction, but it sounds like a good idea. Great thank you to all who have supported us in the past and present, we greatly appreciate your continued support. Peace and love to your family and friends. For more information on how to support this vision send us an email: giizhigookwelodge@gmail.com

The grandmother praying by the water in this photo is our Ogemahkwe Chickadee Richard. Photograph Credit: Jamie Black

Miigwetch (thank you)

Written by Diane Maytwayashing