Marcel Aubin, the president of the Cowichan Intercultural Society board, shared some of his Anishnaabe First Nations culture with the Cowichan Valley’s first family of Syrian refugees following a press conference at the CIS offices last Thursday.
He explained the meaning of his gifts:
“I felt a need to welcome the Syrian family in a gentle and respectful way.
I had offered the cedar bough and a tobacco tie.
The significance of cedar is to help with purification and protection.
I explained that the cedar bough would offer them this protection for their time here as well as for friends and family back home. I had recently learned that their last place of residence being Lebanon is known for their abundance of cedar trees so I thought the bough was fitting for that reason as well.
The tobacco tie holds prayers for their family and loved ones. I explained that the tobacco tie can be used to pray with or offer back to mother earth.
Through our interaction I learned that many of their customs are similar to ours and they seemed quite honoured to receive as was I to be in their presence.”