SKHC Calendar 2019

Nzhishenh leland uncle Leland Bell Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory What are your teachings surrounding being an uncle? Probably just to be a part of something, just as a family member; to be connected to blood relatives and also to be connected to community. I don’t really have any teachings specifically regarding uncle-hood, but it’s more of an attitude for me, a way to be non-judgemental, to be supportive, connected in some way. I’m referring to my actual experience with my own blood relations. I try to treat everybody the same way, equally, it’s not conditional, the respect that I have for people, in general. Also, I’m referred to as an uncle in the Midewiwin lodge which I like. As an uncle who takes care of his family, what are the stories of the sacred, proud and protective role that you hold in embracing the safety of family? It’s basically to be present among other people, not just young people but your fellow people and other uncles. I think the main role for me is to act as an Oshkaabewis, a helper, and I think that’s one of the main roles of an uncle and that comes from the Midewiwin lodge. To be a helper and to be there, present, willing to connect with other people when they come to you and just to be supportive. To always extend some kind of information when people are asking for it or knowledge as best as I can. Basically, to always have not necessarily a smile, but to make people feel safe to be around me or around other uncles. The main connection is to try and be pleasant, show a balance in life as best as you can to other people, so they can try to find that balance too, if people are asking for it. That’s how I try to live my life too, in a balanced way. I don’t go from one extreme to the other extreme I just try to stay in the middle. (...) I know that if somebody asks, I can try and help as best I can. But if I don’t know then I’ll tell them that I don’t know and they should ask another uncle. Excerpt from the interview with Leland Bell by Elizabeth Eshkibok, Cultural Practitioner at the Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre.