Monday, May 13, 2013

Learning About the Native Culture

On Monday May 13, I attended CultureLink’s Newcomer Youth Centre’s program introducing First Nations cultures to newcomer youths. I was greeted by a gentleman Cat Criger, who looked like he could have been of the same race as me. Cat works at the University of Toronto. He is an Aboriginal Elder, Traditional Teacher and Mentor from the First Nations People. It was such a privilege getting to meet with him and chat with him one-on-one.

Through our chat, I learnt that this gentleman is a first nation person and he talked about First Nations people. I learnt that the general characteristic and nature of the native people, are to be kind and very warm to all people. I also learned that First Nation people suffered under the oppression of the British Colony. I feel that their culture and my culture are very similar and I related the same to him. Interestingly, he brought a musical instrument made from a turtle shell. He showed us some very interesting aspects of turtle, like the dynamic line and stripes on the turtle’s body, being a guide on how to live with principle.

I took the opportunity to ask why he, Cat, has two braids, one on each side of his head. He explained that it is a sign of being married. Every morning, as a ritual and also as a sign of affection, his wife puts in the two braids in his hair for him. Cat also told us of his dream of climbing Mt. Everest. I felt proud of my identity and found a lot of similarities between the cultures of the aboriginal people and my own Tibetan culture. Lynda, our program coordinator also explained a bit about her own culture, which is similar to the culture in Malaysia.

At the end of the day, I felt good that I have learnt more about different cultures. It was an enriching experience.  

Written by: Tenzin Dhuedul
Edited by: Lynda Young

Cat’s profile:

Cat Criger is the Resident Elder at the University of Toronto. He is an Aboriginal Elder, Traditional Teacher and Mentor from the First Nations People. He is Cayuga (Guyohkohnyoh), Turtle Clan from the Six Nations Haudenosaunee or People of the Longhouse. Cat has been working as a Traditional Teacher and Healer for more than 16 years in the Native and multi-cultural community in Canada, the USA, England and Wales. He was taught in the old way, working for many years with the guidance of an Aniishnawbe Elder (Zaawawagaabo) and other First Nations Elders, and was taught to do traditional ceremonies, teachings, circles, one to one work and to help all people to 'walk in a good way' though life.

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