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Neqotkuk welcomes 63 children into the community through ceremony | CBC News


The Wolastoqey community of Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation) in New Brunswick welcomed 63 children last Friday through ceremony.

The last welcoming ceremony was held in 2019 before they were paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually they expect around 10 to 20 children, but the community invited all children born from 2020 to 2023 to this year’s welcoming ceremony held at the powwow grounds.

Maggie Francis brought her one-and-a-half year old, Rylan Moulton, to receive her traditional name.

“It’s really nice to have, to be a young mom and to be able to do these ceremonies, because I never had that when I was younger,” said Francis, 30.

She said her two sons already have their traditional names and Francis wanted to make sure her daughter was a part of the celebrations. 

A woman holding a small boy in a ribbon shirt.
Brianna Bear, 24, brought her son Ozuk Nicholas-Bear, 1 1/2 to the ceremony. ‘It meant a lot to me because it was my first time going to one,’ she says. (Submitted by Brianna Bear)

She said she is proud that so many children in her community have a grounded start in their culture and hopes it will help them as they grow into young adults.

“If we’re having these ceremonies young and we’re giving them their names young, then maybe there’s a chance that they won’t have that identity crisis as they get older,” she said.

She said she was also glad to see the community, about 120 kilometres west of Fredericton, welcome the children in a spiritual way.

Indigenous women in regalia hold up eagle feathers.
Wolastoqey grandmothers Ramona Nicholas and Opolahsomuwehs lead the community into the powwow grounds. (Chad Ingraham )

At the ceremony, the families were danced into the powwow grounds, the children were smudged and blessed and received traditional names from Wolastoqew grandmother Opolahsomuwehs (Imelda Perley).

Opolahsomuwehs said when she was young her traditional name was taken away from her when she went to Indian Day School so now she’s happy to see so many young people receive theirs. 

“I was emotional all week knowing this is so historical,” she said.

“We’re saving our language. These parents want traditional names for their babies. That means, you know, there’s a revival happening here.”

A group of Indigenous people at the Neqotkuk powwow grounds.
The Neqotkuk health department with dancers and drummers. (Chad Ingraham)

The event was organized by Neqotkuk Health Programs and Services, which provided regalia making courses where parents could make themselves and their children ribbon skirts and shirts. 

Ursula Bear, cultural co-ordinator for Neqotkuk Health Programs and Services, said the children were also given a sacred bundle, which included a blanket, a smudge kit and a feather. 

“Our community, we wanted to make sure that they’re welcomed and shown that they’re loved,” said Bear. 

The community finished the ceremony with a feast and family photos were also available. Opolahsomuwehs said she is planning to hold another naming ceremony in the fall. 


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