Submitted by Melissa Wickenheiser, A/Assistant Kikawinaw
In recent weeks, residents at Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge (OOHL) made 25 quilted baby blankets to give back to the community. The Star Blankets will be donated to parents who have, unfortunately, lost their newborns during either the birthing process or post-natal. The OOHL residents were compelled to make this offering as they themselves are mothers, Aunties, Kokums (grandmothers) and they understand the importance of children amongst Indigenous culture.
There are numerous teachings about how to construct a Star Blanket. One of the teachings we follow at OOHL, which is located on the Nekaneet First Nation, is when we work on a Star Blanket, we must have a positive frame of mind so that the blanket will carry positive energy.
The baby Star Blankets teach patience, along with Indigenous teachings around Star Blankets, cultural protocols that accompany being a life-giver, learning from one another, as well as a new skill which gives each contributor a sense of pride knowing they are assisting a family in a time of great need.
Creating these blankets was meaningful for the OOHL residents. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been Go! Go! Go! Run the fastest, eat the fastest, do my math equations the fastest! Star Blanket making slapped me in the face with the biggest reality check to date. You can’t rush beauty or perfection. You can’t cut corners. I’ve never been so patient in my entire life. I’ve learned the true meaning of gentleness and kindness. When I heard about this project, I jumped on it. I love to give back and contribute in a good way. Not only did I learn these life lessons that can be applied to every aspect of my life, but I get to help these young spirits go to the next world in a Star Blanket. Who knew making gifts would in turn be a gift to me?! I am proud to be a Star Blanket maker. I am beyond grateful to Shirley Buffalo Calf for sharing her knowledge and of course, humour. I will share this gift with anyone who wants to learn.” C. Jocko.
“Star Blanket making was a new skill that I have learned. To find out the purpose of why we’re making them warmed my heart, and I knew I had to put in 100% effort. It’s nice to give back to the community and for this reason it makes you feel grateful for such a great cause.” C. Wilson
Shirley Buffalo Calf, a Social Programs Officer who has since retired from CSC, helped the offenders with the blankets. “Totally amazing watching the women grow with their quilting. Seeing their excitement and glory in their eyes upon seeing the complete project. They’ve learned patience and the importance of being on time since the project started. The most important method they’re learning is that there is no short cut in star quilting, most of them found out that their new best friend is a tool, a seam ripper in this case. Good job ladies.”
Kudos to the residents of OOHL!