While doing my research to create the designs of the 13 grandmother moons coin collection ordered by the Royal Canadian Mint, I discovered much more than a calendar used by our Anishnabe ancestors. Not only does it depict their nomadic way of life based on resources available throughout the seasons, it also reveals a philosophy of life, teachings that we desperately need in our quest for identity to regain our place in the world...


When I heard about this art exhibition I knew immediately that I had to go see it. Arriving there and seeing such beautiful art I knew it was the right choice.

Not only did I get to see, I was also taught about culture, the good, the great but also the bad and the ugly.

So we will start with the beginning, the 13 grandmother moons...


Each painting is a month and has a teaching about it given by Arlene Barry.

This one is January, Spirit Moon.

The first moon of creation is Spirit Moon and is manifested through the northern lights. It is a time to honour the silence and realize our place within all of Great Mystery's creatures.

February, the Bear Moon

when we honour the vision quest that began in the fall. During this time we discover how to see beyond everyday reality and to communicate through energy rather than sound.

Notice how it flows from the Spirit Moon where we honoured silence? Now we communicate through energy. How do you feel this is done?

March, Sugar Moon

The 3rd moon of creation is the Sugar Moon. As the maple sap begins to run we learn of one of the main medicines given to the Anishnabek which balanced our blood and heals us. During this time we are encouraged to balance our lives as we would our blood sugar levels, by using Divine Law.

Have you ever thought of maple syrup as a medicine? With maple we can use it to be rid of other sugars that mess with our systems in many ways. When tasting syrup not only do we taste the sweetness, we taste how thick and smooth it is, how balanced this medicine is. Try to imagine your life being as smooth and rich and balanced as this medicine.

April, Sucker Moon

when sucker goes to Spirit World in order to receive cleansing techniques for this world. When it returns to this realm it purifies a path for the Spirits and cleanses all our water beings. During this time we can learn to become healed healers.

Water is life, life is spirit, water is healer and water is spirit. It is so important to respect water for the life it gives and to keep it clean. With such destruction in our world creating disasters in our waters, we have to fight harder than ever to preserve what we have that is good and then even more so for what isn't. Are you fighting for the water that is offered to you and those around you? Do you see how you take advantage of it? Do you see how the government ruins it and doesn't fight for the people to have clean waters? I suggest researching the chaos that had been created, leaving people without clean water, making people sick, making kids sick...even in Canada...


That's just one of them...

May, Flower Moon

where all the plants display their spirit sides for the world to see. This life giving energy is one of the most powerful healing medicines on Mother Earth. During this moon we are encouraged to explore our Spiritual essences.

All plants have medicinal benefits. From raspberries for women's monthly cycles, weeds like plantain for inner health and skin irritations, to something as strong as St John's Wort for depression and Labrador tea for chest problems like coughs and lung infections and even for kidney problems, rheumatism, headaches and cancer. Be respectful of out plants, they too are our healers. Pick for our needs not our abuse.

June, Strawberry Moon

The medicine of the strawberry is reconciliation. It was during this moon cycle that communities usually held their annual feasts, welcoming everyone home regardless of their differences over the past year, letting go of judgement and self-righteousness.

How wonderful would it be that we could all come together for a feast and let go of everything that puts an ugly spot in our hearts and souls, lifting off the weights of troubles, forgiving and be free. Breathe new air, new life.

July, Raspberry Moon

when great changes begin. By learning gentleness and kindness we may pass through the thorns of its bush and harvest it's fruit, knowledge that will help in raising our families.

This one speaks volumes to me. The thorns being the hardships when raising my children. Our arguments, the lack of respect, the needs to detach and all that makes us scream and cry. But with gentleness and kindness, I can show them that being together as a family, as one, my kids will grow to be who they truly are within themselves and not have the thorns growing through their skin.

I seem to be missing the painting for August, the Thimbleberry Moon. I apologize for that...

when we honour the thimbleberry which produces an abundance of fruit once every 3 years. It was one of the first plants out on Mother Earth and it's purpose is to protect the sacred Circle of Life by allowing us to recognize and understand the teachings that come from the Spirit World.

September, Corn Moon

The ninth moon of creation is the Corn Moon, during which time we learn about the cycle of life. Each cob of corn has thirteen rows of multicolored seeds which represent all the spirits waiting to begin their Earth Walk. These will be the future generations of whom we must prepare.

Right - October, Falling Leaves Moon

a time where Mother Earth is honoured with the grandest of colours. As all of Creation makes their offerings to her we become aware of all the miracles Creation before us and our spiritual energies are once again awakened.

So much of this makes sense. Many of us think the fall season is the most beautiful. We welcome the colder nature, we spend our time outside amongst the beautiful magestic trees and open ourselves to feel the warmth of the sun.
Also, All Hallows Eve, or Halloween if you prefer is a most spiritual time. If some of you don't know about the spiritual aspects of this day, look it up. There are many different beliefs with this day in many different cultures. But all in all, they all connect with it... spiritually.

Left- November, Freezing Moon

a time when the Star Nation is closest to us. As every creature and being prepares for the coming fasting grounds, we are reminded to prepare ourselves for our spiritual path by learning the sacred teachings and songs that will sustain us.

Right- December, Little Spirit Moon

a time of healing. By receiving both vision of the spirits and good health we may walk the Red Road with the purest intentions, and we can share this most positive energy with our families and friends for the good of all.

The season of giving is not just through gifts, it is through what we can share invisibly. Through this great energy and emotion we can share it with others through touching, hugs and holding hands are most powerful.

Left - Blue Moon, Big Spirit Moon

The thirteenth moon of creation is Big Spirit Moon. Its purpose is to purify us, and heal all of Creation, a process which may take a three month long spiritual journey. During this time we receive instructions on the healing powers of the universe and transform this into our own vision of the truth.

This one is still a mystery to me as the calendar that we live by is a 12 month period. It is a month that I would want to experience more once I have understood the layers of spirituality but living the grandmother moons as it is meant to be starting with January. Hopefully I can gain the knowledge before the year is over to start this journey properly.

The 13 grandmother moons coins.

There were more paintings in the exhibition but came from another artist.


These paintings are from Sky Polson and even though they are untitled and without description, they still carry a story that is easily seen and felt when looking at it.


During the exhibition there was a filmography that took place in a seperate room. This is where things changed to a less beautiful aspect.

As I sat there, alone in the large dark room, I watched the videos silently. At first it was about a girl living her life in the traditional ways, questioning how she did things if she liked it better than city life etc.
The next was about numbers. The Innuit people said many numbers in their native language all but one could be told. None knew the number 1 000 000. Because being rich was not about money but of what we have, the people and the environment we live in. Everything that makes this life a great one. At the end of the video there was one man that knew it, an elder....

The video after that was the one that broke my heart.

An elder woman was taken from her family by the white man. An Algonquin woman that knew only how to speak her native language. When she can back she knew some french.
Her son was taken from his family at the age of 7. He knew how to speak a bit of French. When he came back he knew good French and his native language.
His daughter was taken by the white man at the age of 5. She knew how to speak French and none of her native language. When she came back she still only knew french.
Her daughter has been taken at 6 years old. Only knows french. The age of my 2nd daughter. Shes not returned yet. Still only a child.

The suppression is still happening today in Canada. This is still happening close to me. Very close. The government kicks out the language till it becomes extinct. But why are they still taking the children away from their homes to live and be taught by the white man?

What was that quote from not so long ago yet years in the past, when they started the residential schools? "Kill the Indian in the child".

Apparently the last residential school that closed was in 1996. Only 13 years ago. But are they really shut down? Or are they just well hidden. So much of this is still going on. Just more quietly perhaps.


And when I walked out of that room, my head hung low, shoulders slouching, trying to pack away the tears, the first thing I see is a table. A table with the continents on it carved in the wood.

Not just any regular table though. It was built from gun parts.and even though this "sculpture" has been there for years and before this exhibit took place, the reality of the violence hit me harder than ever. It changed how I felt about everything for the rest of the time I was there.

From beautiful, spiritual paintings to violent genocide.

What are, a lot of sleepin' Indians to take a thing like this layin' down?

Or read it only where it is highlighted.

A lot of sleepin' Indians layin'.