Safe Snug Moss Babies

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Safe Snug Moss Babies

Moss bags and cradleboards were once a vital part of child-rearing in aboriginal communities. It was a special item that was both useful and practical. Babies were kept close to their mothers, felt secure and safe, and had the chance to sharpen their gifts of vision, hearing and other senses.

On Thursday, January 24, MFNERC’s Roots of Empathy (ROE) program held a “Safe Snug Moss Babies” presentation and networking forum in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was facilitated by Sherryl Whitehawk from Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Special guest Daniel Sangret, Thunderchild Cree Nation, Saskatchewan honoured the Moss Bag teachings with beautiful hand drum songs.

The forum’s 17 attendees came from Cross Lake First Nation, Poplar River First Nation, Peguis First Nation, Nelson House Cree Nation, and Sandy Bay First Nation. Participants were first-year ROE Instructors and ROE mentors, and the forum’s focus was the traditional use of moss bags and Tikanaugans, and traditional parenting.

Making the Moss Bags

Tataskwayak Cree Nation Elder, Eunice Beardy, opened the day with a prayer. She then talked about how happy she was that MFNERC was focusing on Early Child Development, and shared her own stories about how she raised her children, and carried her babies in moss bags as a young woman. “The use of the Tikanaugan teaches the baby self-discipline, self-control and to use [his or her] eyes.”

Sherryl  Whitehawk then shared some stories and traditional teachings that she received as a child from her grandmother. She explained how she did not come to understand many of the teachings until later in her adult life, at which time she also learned the many benefits of the moss bag and Tikanaugans.

“Moss bag babies are unique when they are raised in this very special tool. They are more alert, quiet and make sense of their world. They carry with them a unique form of knowledge that allows them to think and behave in a proper manner, while their sense of security is still intact.”

Safe Snug Moss Baby

The afternoon was devoted to the hands-on making of moss bags. All participants followed Sherryl’s expert step-by-step guidance, which included making traditional rag dolls for the moss bags. Once everyone had finished lacing their moss bags, they sat in a circle and shared their thoughts about the day’s events and their Safe Snug Moss Babies.

Elder Eunice Beardy closed the workshop with a prayer.

This ROE Networking forum was held in conjunction with Healthy Child Manitoba.

“A newborn is very powerful, the greatest of all teachers. They can sense things that are not the norm, and let you know. And they continue to teach us as they grow. For example, they will crawl, stand, fall down and get up again. You don’t just get up once and walk forever, you will fall, and you will have to get up again and again.” – Elder Mary Lee

All the participants of the Safe Snug Moss Babies Networking Forum

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