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Oct 28, 2008

Jaxon's Walking-out Ceremony

The little fellow on the right, in the picture above, is my grand-nephew, Jaxon. He lives in the Cree village of Wemindji, on the eastern shore of James Bay, in northern Quebec. Jaxon is nearly 18 months old and a couple of months ago he participated in his village's walking-out ceremony. He was dressed as a goose-hunter for his part in the festivities and, judging by the photographs, looked quite dashing, I must say.
Jaxon's grandfather (my younger sister's husband) was a full-blooded Cree, which made Jaxon's father a half-blooded Cree. Jaxon's mum is white, therefore Jaxon is a quarter-blood Cree. The thinning of the blood notwithstanding, Jaxon, so far, is a full participant in his native canadian heritage. Part of the traditional Cree native culture celebrates the early coming of age of infants who are old enough to walk. A symbolic ceremony marks the expectation of what will be the productive behaviour of every growing individual, the embracing of the collective objective of work, and the resultant worth of every person in Cree Society.
The walking-out ceremony sees the children dressed in traditional native clothing and equipped with toy versions of the tools used by Cree hunters - guns and knives for the boys, and scraping instruments, bannock sticks and firewood for the girls. The elders of the community send the children from a ceremonial tent to parade themselves, and the decorated animal facsimiles they have 'hunted', before other members of the village. Sometimes the boys are assisted to fire a rifle into the air. The children return to the elders and present their catches, for which they receive approving hugs and kisses. The ceremony is normally held in the morning, with the ceremonial tent facing the east and the morning sun - a constant symbol of optimism and hope for the future. After the ceremony, refreshments, story-telling and lots of laughs are enjoyed by all.
Below is a picture of Jaxon and his friends sitting on a woodpile and posing for photographs. Many thanks to my sister, Denise, for sharing these adorable photos with the rest of our family.
Please comment if you wish. BtheB

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