It was an exciting day for families at Seabird Island. Families, friends and staff gathered in the Band Office gymnasium on May 4 to welcome 29 babies into the community.
“This began with our ancestors,” said Elder Siyaya, “they passed this ceremony on to us.”
Siyaya explained that traditionally, grandmothers would have been present when their grandchildren were born and would have had the important duty of holding the baby and welcoming them into their family and community. Today, families are invited to join Seabird Island once a year at the Baby Welcoming Ceremony to introduce their babies to the community.
At the ceremony, babies and their families were dressed in shawls and blankets as they entered the gymnasium to traditional songs and drumming. Each family was brushed with cedar bows by Elders as they joined the procession around the gymnasium before being seated at the head of the room.
Once seated, guests and cultural workers had the opportunity to speak to families. Jonny Williams, Youth/Cultural Worker for Seabird Island spoke to the young fathers about his own parenting journey.
“It’s always tough when we become the parent, we don’t automatically know what to do. When I first became a father I went and sat with my mother and grandfather to ask for guidance and help.”
Williams encouraged parents and especially young parents to speak to their parents, grandparents and aunties.
“When I didn’t know how to handle my children, I would always go sit with my parents and ask ‘how did they get through it?’ It doesn’t make you any less of a man because you don’t know how to be a dad.”
After the speeches, each baby was brushed with cedar bows and water to cleanse and protect their mind, body, spirit and future as their families whispered happy, loving words to them.
This ceremony is one of the ways the Band hopes to ensure traditions are carried forward to future generations.
“Our culture is going to continue, our spirituality, and our customs are going to continue through the young people. By upholding them, by honoring them, and by welcoming them in this way is what’s going to ensure that it will continue on,” said Elder Siyaya.
Welcome to our community!