Dream catcher workshops for peace

From the Ship

Visiting the 4th World: Indigenous Canada

Nov 27, 2023

Anna Marie Sewell, a Canadian multi-genre writer and cultural educator, delivered a series of four captivating lectures and a workshop during Peace Boat’s 115th Voyage, offering participants an in-depth look into Indigenous Canada's rich cultural diversity. A member of Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation, and also of Polish and Anishinaabe descent, Anna Marie shared her personal heritage and family history, connecting her life work to the topic. Each lecture was thoughtfully structured to challenge conventional perceptions of Indigenous identity and invite engagement through traditional opening and closing songs, adding authenticity to the presentations and facilitating cultural immersion.

Opening and closing with a songOpening and closing with a song

Introducing the 4th World

In her first lecture, "Welcome to the 4th World: Indigenous Canada," Anna Marie Sewell  introduced the concept of the "4th World," and the Indigenous worldview of humans as related to other forms of life.The audience was prompted to reflect on their knowledge of the origins of Maple Syrup. Anna Marie Sewell delved into her family connections to maple and its Indigenous roots, sharing the enchanting "Song of Ininataq," a story which explains the origins and history of Maple Syrup among Anishinaabe people, whose name for maples - Ininatiq - means “the human tree.” 

The second lecture, "Identity in the 4th World: Challenging Homogeneity," continued the exploration of Indigenous diversity. Anna Marie prompted the audience to reflect on their preconceived notions about Indigenous Canadians and discussed the diversity within Indigenous communities, emphasizing the importance of breaking stereotypes. Music was used to illustrate the rich and evolving diversity of Indigenous cultures. The lecture concluded with a closing song, reinforcing the message of unity and diversity. 

AMS describing her mixed heritageAnna Marie Sewell describing her mixed heritage

The Importance of Water

The third lecture, "Journeys in the 4th World: 'Moving Across the Water,'" explored the significance of waterways as highways for trade, cultural exchange, and migration. Anna Marie highlighted the role of Indigenous Ironworkers in building modern North American cities especially along Eastern waterways. She then introduced the work of Indigenous grandmothers leading walking pilgrimages around the Great Lakes to bring awareness to our need to heal human relationships with water. The lecture ended with the beautiful "Nibi Song," (Song to Water) which the audience could join in singing.

The final lecture, "Setting the Table: Indigenous Views on Thanksgiving," came just ahead of Canadian Thanksgiving.  Anna Marie detailed the Indigenous origins of the staple foods on a typical Thanksgiving Dinner menu - turkey, corn, potatoes, pumpkin, etc -  and shared knowledge of Indigenous agriculture stretching back well before European colonization. The audience was encouraged to reflect anew on the initial story ‘Song of Ininatiq,’ with its message that all of life can be considered as a gift to share. This final  lecture ended with a surprise closing song that many already knew - Ue O Muite Arukou - which the audience sang enthusiastically, joined in a sense of mutual sharing.

Catching Dreams of Peace

In addition to the lectures, Anna Marie Sewell conducted a workshop titled "Dream Catcher of Peace." This engaging session blended storytelling with the art of crafting dream catchers, symbolizing the importance of community and positivity. The workshop was well-attended, with participants from diverse backgrounds and age groups. A special thanks to ship carpenter Edwin Estores who helped prepare wooden frames for the workshop!

Anna Marie Sewell's lectures and workshop on Peace Boat successfully orchestrated engagement from many voyagers. Participants learned traditional songs, gained a deeper understanding of the dynamic nature of Indigenous Canada, felt a sense of fellowship and connection with Indigenous people, and left with a curiosity to explore more about their diverse cultures and stories. These engaging sessions added a valuable dimension to the cultural enrichment of participants during their journey on Peace Boat.

See examples of Anna Marie's works here.

A full venue