Celebrating Our Nêhiyawak Ways: The Journey of Kistemaw at Kapawe’no Nêhiyawak School

September 14, 2023

Kapawe’no First Nation – In our traditional Nêhiyawak ways, Kistemaw, known as “tobacco,” holds great significance. It is a sacred part of our Nêhiyawak way of life, passed down through our ancestors for generations.

On September 11, 2023, at Kapawe’no Nêhiyawak School, students from Grade 7-12 came together to honor our Nêhiyawak way of life and the vital role it plays in our lives.
We were blessed with ancestral seeds, a precious gift that connects us to our ancestral roots. With the guidance and wisdom of Mrs. Leana Richardson, a Knowledge Keeper whose expertise spans generations, we embarked on a journey to nurture these seeds from their beginnings to fruition.
As the plants grew, our students actively participated, learning not only the practical aspects but also the deep spiritual and cultural significance of tobacco in our Nation. It became a living lesson in our traditions and values.

Today, we gather to celebrate the harvest, a culmination of our collective efforts and the wisdom passed down from our ancestors. This is not merely a harvest but a ceremony, a moment of profound connection with our heritage and the land.

We will demonstrate to our students the meticulous process of drying and preparing the tobacco for use. It’s a time-honored practice that carries the essence of our culture. Through this ceremony, we impart not just practical knowledge but the reverence and respect we hold for our traditions.
As we embark on this journey of harvest and preparation, let us remember that tobacco, “Kistemaw,” is more than a plant; it is a symbol of our identity, our heritage, and our deep connection to the land as Nêhiyawak. May this ceremony be a bridge between the generations, passing down the legacy of our people, and nurturing the roots of our culture for years to come.

Mrs. Leana Richardson’s invaluable contributions have played a significant role in making this possible, highlighting the harmonious collaboration between our school and our Nation in the pursuit of lifelong learning and cultural preservation through the Nêhiyawak way of life.

Last modified: October 2, 2023

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