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A Season for Traditional Values

By Karon Shmon

Dec 10, 2021

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After twenty months of coping with the pandemic, we have become somewhat accustomed to the health and safety measures necessary to protect ourselves and our communities. Under these circumstances, many have lost loved ones, lost jobs, lost homes, and lost the contact that keeps us socially connected. Those affected less than this are fortunate, bringing a consciousness of gratitude to our minds more often than we may have had in the past.

Thanksgiving 2021 was also different for most of us as to whether we could meet with others; to what extent, before it became a safety issue. It demanded our attention and our gratitude and helped us remember that we still have much for which we can be thankful. Soon after, we remembered the service and sacrifice of veterans who defended our rights, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice. This segued into Louis Riel Day, a time when we remember the great service and sacrifice of those who defended Metis rights during the 1885 Resistance.

These sobering acknowledgments certainly put the sacrifices we are making in perspective. I think of our ancestors and what we know about the lives they lived, they made the best of the situations they had, while keeping the ties to those in their families and communities strong. I have witnessed many individuals doing the same in the past twenty months, simply making the best of the situation.

As we approach the holiday season, we will still be dealing with the challenges and threats posed by the pandemic. This may look different for another year with less travel and smaller gatherings. We have made big and small changes throughout the past year and half in hopes of getting back to what we know as normal, or what will be a new normal. It may not be perfect, but it is what works and keeps our community and its vulnerable members safe. This is our new normal for a while longer.

Thinking once again about our ancestors and how they made the most of the situations they were given, we can emulate their attitudes and actions simply by being more mindful of what they have shown us. Be kind to others, share a smile, a kind word, or a helping hand. Sharing random acts of kindness is not a new concept, but something we can recall from our blood memory.

Although the holiday season this year may look much different from previous years, each one of us can make it special and unique for others by, writing someone a thoughtful card, making an ornament or crafting something by hand, baking a treat, or offering help to those in need. Gifts made from what you have on hand, or what you can harvest from nature, do not have a huge cost associated with them. These are small gestures that take time and thoughtfulness. We have many gifts that cost nothing more than remembering the gift we were given by our ancestors — our traditional values.

Think about our ancestors and how fortunate we are to be here at all. Each of us is a miracle. In a season meant to remind us that miracles exist, I can’t think of a better way to prove it than to be fully present for ourselves and others in our traditional ways of being kind, thoughtful, inclusive, and generous under some challenging circumstances. Our ancestors did so. We can make our ancestors proud by showing that we hold their legacy as our most precious gift.

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Gabriel Dumont Institue

GDI is a Saskatchewan-based educational, employment and cultural institute serving Métis across the province

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