I am not sure when I became interested in Gerry Squires’ work. Maybe it was while attending a wedding at Mary Queen of the World Church and seeing his disturbing and beautiful Stations of the Cross murals on the walls. Maybe it was on one of my frequent visits to The Rooms. I know nothing about art but am amazed by people’s ability to create through drawing and painting.
The Daily Post’s word prompt for yesterday was ‘circle’ and I hadn’t intended on posting but after viewing two films at Beothuk Interpretation Centre last night, I decided to write a post.
Since moving back to the northeast coast of Newfoundland, I have visited the Beothuk Interpretation Centre several times. When I first walked the trail and came upon Shanawdithit it was powerful. I suggest that if you do walk this trail that you walk it by yourself or with someone who is respectful of silence and spirituality.
The film Who will sing for me? by Roger Bill tells the story behind the creating of the sculpture. Mr. Bill wondered if, after seeing how the sculpture was created, it might lose some of its mystique. For me, and I think the audience in general, learning of Mr. Squires’ vision, his hours, months and years of work and his participation in bringing Shanawdithit to her resting place only added to my wonder and awe. Learning that the precise location was orchestrated by Mr. Squires, only made me appreciate it more.
The second film I heard the birch tree whisper in the night by Kenneth J. Harvey focuses on Mr. Squires life and his discovery that he was dying (he died in 2015). Informative, sad and moving.
Thank you to the staff of the Beothuk Interpretation Centre for helping me come full circle with Shanawdithit.
…….I say that Spirit is only separated by a heartbeat.” Marie Eastman, Exploits Native Women’s Drummers
(With the reopening of the Beothuk Interpretation Centre and all its amazing events for the season, I thought I would re blog this post)
I attended a Healing Conference at the Beothuk Interpretation Centre in Boyd’s Cove on Thursday October 15/15 and it was amazing! Karen and all her staff provided good food and a day to remember. Chief Misel Joe of Conne River led the Conference with humour, while giving spiritual and educational guidance. Participants came from Trinity Bay, Springdale, Steady Brook and various places in Notre Dame Bay. It is one of life’s ironies that we sometimes know someone all of our life and feel no real connection, while sometimes we meet a stranger and there is an instant affinity. Such was the case on Thursday, our group connected very early in the day.
Our day began with a Smudging Ceremony held in the Spirit Garden and performed by Chief Misel Joe. This was my first time experiencing this ceremony and I found it quite moving.
Our brothers and sisters, the Beothuk People
once lived and worked on this sacred site.
We pay our respect to their Spirit that
remains within the land and this sacred site.
Chief Misel Joe
Miawpukek First Nation, Conne River
Our medicine walk took us along the beautiful trail by the Interpretation Centre and Chief Joe collected seven natural medicines to be brewed later in the day.
The trail is so peaceful and beckoning now, and we can only hope that the Beothuk people can feel our sorrow and sadness for what was done to them.
At the end of the medicine walk, some of us returned to the Centre to reflect and discuss what we had encountered on the trail. Others decided to continue on and visit the sculpture of Shanawithit created by Gerry Squires. Please visit http://wwwheritagenf.ca and click on Images to learn more about this fascinating story.
We walked down the trail and quietly she emerged through the trees. I was in awe. Shanawithit stands so tall, strong and proud and at one with her surroundings. There is no ostentatious, loud plaque to announce her place here. The storyboard is on the opposite side of the trail and blends in with its surroundings. Gerry Squires was in tune with what needed to be done.
“Of the two wolves who are constantly fighting inside all of us,
Only the good wolf can be fed here.
The Spirits want it this way.”
Marie Eastman, Exploits Native Women’s Drummers
The afternoon was comprised mostly of a Storytelling Circle led by Chief Joe. Simply put, it had four parts. First the Talking Stick was passed around the circle with each of us telling a little about ourselves, then it was passed in the opposite direction and we told of something or someone in our past who had changed us, then Chief Joe gave each of us a word and we had to tell a story using that word….no rehearsal, no exchanging of ideas, just tell a story, and lastly we gave away our little gifts. The spirituality, sadness, healing and laughter brought us all together in this little circle.
When we had registered for the Conference, Karen asked us to bring along some item that meant something to us and this would be used as a gift for someone in our Storytelling Circle. She also said that at the end of the day we would know who should receive our gift.
I brought a little, colourful painting that I had won at an auction the previous year. The painting was done by Sam Stairs whose parents operate the Citadel House and they host various musical talent throughout the year. Last year during one of their concerts, they had a silent auction to raise money for the Oncology Unit at the Janeway Hospital in St. John’s. There were a number of items donated and each of the Stairs’ children did a piece of art to help raise funds. Their son, Sam did a mosaic of lovely colours and had it framed. I put in a bid and was lucky enough to win it! I chose this special painting to give away, and yes, when the time came, I knew who should receive it.
I received a lovely little red Buddha which was truly meant for me and amazingly, Linda knew this.
We were also encouraged to leave an offering in the Spirit Garden. There were various items from nature and some pieces of coloured cloth in baskets from which you could make an offering and take down to the Garden. I chose a piece of birch rind, a mussel shell, and a piece of blue cloth (to represent the sea and the beautiful October sky) and strung them together to make an offering to an outstanding woman, my aunt, Hettie Sarson. She died in August at the age of 98 and had an affinity with the Native People and indeed all people. I hung it on a branch facing out to sea because as her grandson Michael wrote “She (Hettie) was kind, but she had the grey air of the Atlantic about her and she wore that kindness with melancholy.” Perhaps her spirit is now back where she was born and somehow intertwined with that of Shanawithit.
“If you find yourself at ocean’s edge let the power of the winds
and water take you home.”…… Mother Earth by Chief Misel Joe