A Vision, a Circle, a Legacy
Built in 2018, by the Wolf Lake First Nation. Our medicine wheel site is intended to inspire people to come to the Maganasibi protected area to learn about our common history and ways to heal ourselves and the earth. Like many First Nations in Canada Wolf Lake First Nation is committed to creating space to better understand the truth of Canada’s shared history with Indigenous peoples. In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, this medicine wheel site is intended to develop a deeper understanding of our shared history, the meaning of reconciliation, and the role all Canadians play in improving our relationship.
Built upon a former industrial logging mill site the wheel provides in depth information on the industrial development of Algonquin territory and our return to the Maganasibi and this sacred circle. The vision of this wheel came over time and the experience of our ancestors represented by the rocks in the ripple formations of the circle.
We invite you into the circle to cast aside your preconceptions and enter this protected area. More and more people in our industrialized society feel the need to restore our balance. The four directions provide the teachings as you travel the medicine wheel towards the pine-tree of peace— ‘chigwatik’ located at the centre of the Medicine Wheel.
We all share and travel this circle regardless of race or country of origin. It is at this time that we offer this space and teachings of the Maganasibi Medicine Wheel.
The four directions medicine wheel as shaped by an Anishinabe female Elder:
“The medicine wheel was placed on the turtle island by people thousands of years ago. For the medicine wheel, I want to honor one of the oldest things we have: the four directions. When I look at a four directions medicine wheel, I see yellow in the East, blue in the South, red in the West and white in the North. The paths are another medicine wheel that represents all the nations of the world. And my thought is that all peoples of the world could attend first nation university, so im putting the path of all the nations of the world leading into there. These are the white man, the yellow man, the red man and the black man. They can converge in them and learn about our plants and our sacred spaces.”
The medicine wheel is a concept for teaching and understanding the many aspects of life and the world. The medicine wheel begins with the drawing of a circle and the circle is divided into four quadrants. In many Aboriginal cultures the number four is significant. Many things, events and phenomena occur in fours: the four seasons (Winter, Fall, Spring and Summer), the four directions (North, East, South and West), the four elements (earth, wind, fire and water) the four aspects of individual health (physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual), the four stages of life (childhood, teen, adult, elder), and the four sacred medicines (sage, tobacco, sweetgrass, and cedar). At the center of the Medicine Wheel is you - the self in the balance.
All parts of the wheel are equally important. Each part or segment depends on the others to form a healthy cycle of life. What affects one part affects all parts; the world, or the self, cannot thrive with missing or trained parts. For this reason, the medicine wheel teaches that harmony, balance and respect for all parts are needed to sustain life.
A wampum is traditionally made from the shells of varying types of whelk and quahog. The shells are broken down, chiseled, and polished into beads and are woven together to form a wampum, which loosely translates to “strings of the shell beads”. Wampum belts were used to commemorate important ceremonial gatherings such as engagements, marriages, treaties and allegiances.
The Seven Fires Prophecy Belt: This wampum belt has been handed down among the Algonquin since the late 1400s. It has seven diamonds which represented the seven fires. Grandfather Commanda and other traditional leaders believe that we have entered the time of the Seventh Fire, which is the time of decision between the two roads of materialism and of spirituality. If the light skinned race chooses the right road, then the Seventh Fire will light the Eighth and final Fire, an internal fire of peace, love, brotherhood and sisterhood.
Algonquin wigwams were shelters made of bended tree saplings which were then covered with animal skins and woven mats of birchbark. Some wigwams were almost conical in shape like a tipi, while others were more rounded in shape. All wigwams had a central fire pit and hole at the top for the smoke to escape. The ground was covered with coniferous branches creating a soft and fragrant foundation and animal skins and hides were then placed on top of the branches.