Opikinawasowin: The Life-Long Process of Growing Cree and Métis Children

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Title: Opikinawasowin: The Life-Long Process of Growing Cree and Métis Children
Creator: Dorion, Leah Marie
Subject: Cree, Métis, Parenting, Narrative, Culture, Families, Traditional, Oral Tradition, Dorion, Leah
Description: This document, ``Cree, Métis, Parenting, Narrative, Culture, Families, Traditional, Oral Tradition,`` is a MA thesis by Leah Marie Dorion. This document is to be used for research purposes only. The author has copyright over this document and its contents. The author graciously allowed the Gabriel Dumont Institute to post this document to this website.
Date: 2010
Type: Text Document
Abstract: Abstract:

This research project explores Cree and Métis Elders teachings about traditional child rearing and investigates how storytelling is used to facilitate the transfer of this culturally based knowledge. This project examines the concept of Opikinawasowin which contains the Cree philosophical framework for growing children. Opikinawasowin, translates into English as the ‘child rearing way’ and is a highly valued aspect of traditional Cree life. For generations Cree and Métis people used storytelling to actualize the teachings of Opikinawasowin. The concept of Opikinawasowin in this study is defined and expressed through Cree and Métis
Elders points of view and by the sharing of traditional teachings. Storytelling is used by Elders to impart core values and beliefs about parenting. Through stories Elders give specific teachings relating to how individuals, families, and communities are expected to practice traditional child rearing. Additionally, Opikinawasowin knowledge is often transmitted through the cultural context of prayer and ceremony so asking Elders about the spiritual foundation of Opikinawasowin is an important aspect within this research. This study documents thirteen traditional parenting teachings and identifies fifty four recommendations for further discussion regarding the revival of traditional parenting teachings and practices in our contemporary families and communities. Some issues raised in this study include the need to restore male and female balance in our families, communities, and nation so that our children will have this balance role modeled for them because it is an original feature of traditional society. It was expressed in this study Cree and Métis families gain a significant amount of resilience from learning and living traditional cultural teachings. It was learned we need to restore the powers of the grandmothers to oversee and monitor the implementation of childrearing. Other insights included the need to support parents in their personal healing journey through the use of traditional cultural practices such as ceremonies and by giving them extended family and community supports so they can consciously work on themselves and their parenting practices. Additionally, it is believed individual, parents, families, communities, and nations need to develop a collective vision for parenting which includes returning children to the heart center of our society. Through this study many of the beliefs, philosophies, customs, and traditions about traditional child rearing teachings are expressed by the Elders. It is demonstrated in this study people who were raised within families who still practiced traditional childrearing ways were able to gain cultural strength and resilience which served to guide them as community role models during their Eldership years. Although colonial impacts have negatively impacted traditional childrearing ways there is resilience and resistance in our communities and many traditional teachings were able to survive either underground, through oral tradition, and within the Indigenous languages. With the current trend to decolonize and heal intergenerational trauma more Elders are willing to share this oral knowledge so future generations of parents will receive the traditional teachings. The research project employs a methodological approach based on the oral tradition and has followed the accepted traditional protocol expected for working with Elders from Cree and Métis communities in central and northeastern Saskatchewan. The research reporting process and teachings are shared through the model of narrative inquiry and oral history because these methods are consistent with traditional First Nations and Métis approaches to teaching, learning, and sharing.
© Copyright Athabasca University, all rights reserved.
Date of Copyright: February 1, 2013
Coverage: Western, Northern Canada
GDI Media Filename: Dorion_traditional_child_rearing_2010_GDI.pdf

Related Categories

Category Métis Identity and Spiritualism
Category Opikinawasowin: The Life-Long Process of Growing Cree and Métis Children—Dorion, Leah Marie