Boozhoo! (Greetings!) Mko Mosé indizhnikaz (My spirit name is Bear Walker), Mshiikenh nindodem (I am Turtle Clan), deshkan ziibi ndoonjibaa (I was born and raised along the horn of the serpent river [present day London, Ontario – Thames River]). Anishinaabe, Ojibii’igay inini ndaaw (I am an Anishinaabe, Ojibway man).
Anishinaabe is an Algic word said to translate to “from whence lowered the male of the species” [down onto the earth]… he was a man that “lived in brotherhood with all that was around him” (Benai, 1988, p. 3-4).
Anishinaabe is the term used in self reference by some of the Indigenous peoples who primarily lived, thrived, and perished for many generations in several disparate regions of the Great Lakes and far beyond, prior to first encountering visitors from a distant land in the late 1500’s (Hallowell, 1975).
In early literature, the French and English visitors refer to many groups of Algic speaking people’s as Ojibway, Chippewa, Saulteaux, and a host of other names and spellings (Warren, 1984). It is believed that at one time there were at least thirty-six dialects of the Algic language.
My English name is Andrew Bertram Judge and I had an English grandfather named John Smith. I have Celtic ancestry on both my mother Brenda and father Arnie’s sides of my family.
The Celtic lineage on my mother’s side is connected to my Grandmother Noreen Heeney, from what is today referred to as Northern Ireland. In Celtic times this area was known as the province of Ulster. My Mom was born in Sarnia, Ontario and she lived on a farm in her early years.
My Father was born near Thessalon, First Nation where my late grandmother Celina Bamagesic – portal in the sky – was raised. The origins of his father, my namesake, Bertram Judge, remain obscure to me, though it was well known he was an Irishman who fought in WW2. Bertram passed before I was born at the age of 52. According to Kin (Mayan sacred Calendar) teachings, 52 is the year when the Hab and Kin align and a person can reinvent themselves.
I introduce myself this way because Makoons (Wendy Geniusz), in her book, Our Knowledge is Not Primitive: Decolonizing Botanical Anishinaabe Teachings (2009) writes, “It is in accordance with anishinaabe protocol that I introduce myself this way. According to our customs, I must explain who I am, to whom I am connected, and where I come from so that those listening to me will know the origin of my teachings”(p. xv). Shawn Wilson (2008) also recommends Indigenous scholars share their origins to establish relational connections with readers. If you are exploring this website, thank you for taking the time. While I may not be with you, my spirit is always fully present in my writing.
I dreamt my spirit name after my first fasting experience. I fasted to ask for my spirit name and clan. The night I came out of my fast I had an extraordinary dream. At the very end of the dream a force of energy came out of a water fountain that I witnessed being constructed through time lapsed video, it appeared directly in front of my face. It was as close as something can be without touching. In that moment a commanding voice announced, “Your name is Bear Walker! Your name is Bear Walker!” The voice shook me to my core and in that moment I awoke gasping for breath. Since the moment I’ve consulted several Anishinaabe knowledge stewards about this name. It now directs my life path towards mino-bimaadiziwin. What the Anishinaabe call ‘the way of a good life’ (Rheault, 1998). Or what I refer to as the Movement of harvesting the sustainers of life.
Thank you to all teachers who have shaped me into the educator I have become.