"Thanks for visiting me at the Creek! Tell your friends what a great place the EcoPath is to bike, hike, rollerblade or even have a picnic celebration! Come back and visit me often!"
A People Place
People have gathered around creeks, rivers and lakes for centuries: for food, shelter, transportation, celebration and spiritual reverence. It’s fitting that the Chippewa Creek EcoPath provides a place where people today can gather to learn about the natural values and heritage of the Creek through stewardship and education.
First Nations people have long held a deep respect for water believing that water is sacred and the very life-blood of our Mother the Earth. With the help of elders from the North Bay Indian Friendship Centre, a concept for this gathering place right here along the Creek was developed which, by its very design, is inclusive to all. Inclusivity is a strong value in First Nations' way of life.
The design incorporates the Four Directions and also takes into consideration the Four Races of the world - red, yellow, black and white, the four elements, four sacred animals, four seasons, four sacred medicines, and the four aspects of human nature - the spiritual, physical, mental and environmental well being of a person.
The design proposes to be centered around a petroform* of a turtle – the symbol of Creation and Earth honoured in Creation stories by most First Nations peoples in North America. On the hill, a seating area will be created with stone for the gathering of all peoples.
The design of this gathering place was inspired by “The Return of the Great Painted Turtle”, a painting by Tim Yearington, Metis Artist.
The idea of a “painted turtle” refers directly to the Four Colours of the Medicine Wheel and the Four Directions. In ancient times before the term “Medicine Wheel” came about, First Nation teachers of the Four Directions used the shell of a Turtle or a stone Turtle petroform* built somewhere on the land.
Many First Nation peoples share a legend of how the world was created on the back of a giant sea turtle (some still refer to North America as a “Turtle Island”).
*Petroforms are shapes and geometrical patterns made from arranging large rocks and boulders, often over large areas of open ground. They were originally made in North America by First Nations people for astronomical, sacred, healing and teaching purposes.