ahcâk akôhp kiskinohamakewina

The Star Blanket Experience

The Star Blanket is considered the “blueprint” for Indigenous people – teachings on connection to the land, language and syllabics, rites of passage ceremonies, and stages of life are all embedded in the Star Blanket (J. Wastesicoot, personal communication).

The Star Blanket also contains many atayokewina (sacred Creation/teaching stories) that determine who we are as nêhiyawak (Cree people). Often regarded as a simple icon of Indigenous culture, the Star Blanket houses many multidimensional teachings on Creation, land, language, and ceremony that reveal the depth of the Indigenous universe. Other teachings incorporated into the Star Blanket include teachings regarding the construction and number of ancestors (rocks) used in a lodge, seasonal teachings, syllabics, directional teachings, language teachings, and universe teachings. The Star Blanket is a law system, a blueprint, and a spiritual story that tells us where we belong, how we must harvest from Mother Earth, and how we should look after and care for our families.

One teaching shares knowledge about the ten stages of life that guide our path as “spirits engaged in a human journey”. Each of these developmental stages is based on the nêhiyaw concept of awa meaning animate. For example, a child entering the human world is known as an awasis. The root of this concept, awa means animate or “of spirit”, while the suffix, “sis” indicates “small”. When you combine these concepts, the nêhiyaw understanding of a child or an awasis translates into “a small spirit engaged in a human journey”. As the child (awasis) journeys the human world, they transition into the next stage of life and become mistahi awasis. The nêhiyaw concept mistahi implies “big or a lot” and translates into “a bigger spirit engaged in a human journey”. There are similar terms and concepts for the remaining eight stages. Within these life stages, there are ceremonies and rites of passage that celebrate and nurture the ceremonial and spiritual development of awasisak (children). The Star Blanket is the framework for all of these stages of life, ceremonies, and rites of passage that guide our journey as spirits who enter the human realm and, eventually, return back to the ancestral world.

Our team, in relationship with Knowledge-Keeper Jeff Wastesicoot, created a teaching/training experience based within the Star Blanket teachings. This teaching/learning experience will allow human service professionals to learn many of the teachings embedded within the Star Blanket. Through the Star Blanket Experience, human service professionals will learn about and experience healing through ceremony. This will help participants develop a deeper awareness of the importance of ceremony and Indigenous knowledge, beliefs, and values when working with Indigenous families who are healing from the legacy of Residential Schools and the lasting impacts of colonization. This teaching/training resource has the potential to help heal and restore the spirit of Residential School survivors and their descendants who have been impacted by the loss of culture, ceremony, and language.

Given the extensive Creation and worldview teachings embedded in the Star Blanket, this teaching/learning experience is only delivered in-person, for approximately 4-5 hours, following all current Covid-19 safety measures and health protocols. To inquire, please email contact@irminc.ca.