The Oji-Cree: Mapping the Crossroads


Chief Woods

Chief Marie Woods, St. Theresa Point's first woman elected chief, prepares ground cover out of pine for a path to guide visitors. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.


Young Girl

A young girl on the swing set outside St. Theresa Point's combined K-13 school. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.



Upcoming events and local news, including weather reports, are broadcast over FM radio within a small bungalow. Elders also share advice and stories. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.



A young boy by the lake. According to the last official census in 2011, an estimated 45 percent of St. Theresa Point's total population is under 15 and the median age is just over 22. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.


Father Messiah

At the Faith Family Retreat, Father Messiah blesses spectators with holy water. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.



The labrador tea leaves are used to prepare mushkeego, a beverage that is believed to have soothing or healing properties. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.



Two young boys unite to drag a stripped poplar from the beach. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.



After the Sun Dance concludes, the dancers break their fast with a large feast, followed by a gift-giving ceremony. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.



Elders occupy positions of significant rank and importance on the reserve and are celebrated for their wisdom and guidance. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.



Following the departure of the archbishops, a flower arrangement is placed on the rocks. Floral displays accompany many religious ceremonies and rites. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.



A young woman adorned in formal ceremonial clothes for the arrival of dignitaries. She and her peers will dance for the visiting archbishops. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.


A young boy balances his love of video games and film with growing interest in the practices of his elders in the community. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.


The knowledge of Oji-Cree elders sustains its hybrid culture and helps younger generations become oriented in traditional practices, as well as versed in today's modern environments. Image by Dillon DeWitt. Canada, 2016.

Ceremonies offer respite from seasonal hardships and opportunities to strengthen community bonds. The rebuilding of a nation requires full involvement of all stakeholders, from the young to the elderly. The summer promises to provide ample resources for difference management, as well as negotiating tensions between religious communities. While some families and factions unite to work toward cultural sustainability, others remain in self-imposed exile, disturbing a mood of peace and community wellness.

St. Theresa Point is a dry reserve, meaning alcohol is prohibited within its borders. But without active youth outreach and creative solutions to connect young people to community and shared identity, youth fall into risk behaviors for social ills that continue to beset First Nations societies.

During the summer individuals connect through mutual interests and social histories to nurture community building and celebrate cross-cultural contact that provides enrichment opportunities for youth.

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