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Shaw Centre Sponsors Indigenous Experience at Mādahòkì Farm

Published on June 29, 2023

The MPI Ottawa June Bash and Volunteer Appreciation Event kicked off on June 20th at Mādahòkì Farm.

It was the last MPI event for the 2022/2023 season. The night was full of fun and educational content, as well as networking opportunities for the MPI members. The Shaw Centre was delighted to have successfully won the opportunity to sponsor the MPI Ottawa June Bash and Volunteer Appreciation Event which covered the costs of the volunteer registrations. Volunteers are essential to making events successful, and Shaw Centre recognizes their importance.

Mādahòkì Farm Employees sitting on a bench

Karen Wiersma, Senior Account Manager at the Shaw Centre and President of the MPI Ottawa Chapter, reflected on her time as president.

“I truly want to thank our dedicated, passionate volunteers – from all our portfolios and to the board – who are the backbone to making this chapter run successfully. Thank you to everyone for all your support this past year, and I wish you all a wonderful summer.”

Karen Wiersma Clapping

Mādahòkì, which means sharing of the land, is a magical place situated just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa. Home to seasonal indigenous experiences, events, festivals, a marketplace, a growing herd of endangered Ojibwe Spirit Horses, and more. The event commenced with beautiful cultural songs to welcome the MPI volunteers to the farm. Continued by traditional storytelling through stunning art pieces curated by Rhonda Snow, a proud member of the Anishinabe tribe. Her vivid Woodlands style canvases captivate viewers as she shares the knowledge she has received from the Elders about the “small horses of the big woods,” also known as Ojibway spirit horses.


Horse in field with log fence
Field with tipis and other wooden structures

The farm is home to nine Ojibway Spirit Horses, an endangered species that were unfortunately nearly eradicated by European settlers who saw them as pests, often eating their crop and destroying their lands. Miraculously there were a few surviving ponies, but unfortunately, they were mares (females) so they would have to be bred to another breed. The breed that was chosen, which has a number of similar characteristics, were wild mustangs in the U.S. These Objibway Spirit Horses can be distinguished from a traditional English horse; by the dark stripe along their back, an extra nose flap, and furry ears to protect them from the cold Canadian winters. These incredible creatures were certainly a highlight of the evening. We had the pleasure of meeting Kita, a 12-year-old horse who initially, was a little shy but warmed up to us in no time! Her calming demeanor and charming personality completely won over the crowd.

The night continued with a scrumptious family-style three-course meal including traditional three sisters soup, Bison Meatloaf Medallions, Baked Squash with Savoury Sage Butter, Bannock, and for dessert a cookie topped with seasonal berry compote.

People grabbing food at the Mādahòkì Farm Dinner
People getting served food at the Mādahòkì Farm Dinner

While we relished in the amazing meal, we were treated to a Pow Wow, an indigenous gathering where generations come together to honor traditions through dance, drumming, and song, forging a sense of community among the tribes and an opportunity for healing. The dancers wore their traditional Regalia, sacred clothing worn during a pow-wow. These hand-sewn pieces were appealing to the eyes and ears! Specifically, the Jingle Dress, consisting of thousands of colourful beads with the skirt made from metal cones, otherwise known as ziibaaska’iganan” that makes a jingle sound when they dance. The dress has an emotional history, as it was first seen in an elder’s dream. His granddaughter became very sick, and as he slept that night, his spirit guide told him to create the jingle dress which would heal the child if she danced in it. The next day the tribe was invited to watch the little girl dance, and as she moved, the dress healed her sickness.

Woman Dancing
Man Dancing

There are so many more fascinating stories that were told throughout the evening, but we don’t want to spoil them all! Visit the farm for yourself, indulge in the captivating experiences it offers, and immerse yourself in indigenous culture. Thank you to the staff at Mādahòkì Farm, who organized an unforgettable experience for the MPI volunteers.