Jackie Labonte and Renee Thomas-Hill, an elder in her community, are hosting a talk with Niagara Parks on Thursday revolving around the significance of the Strawberry Moon to Indigenous communities and the Matriarch Circle.
The Strawberry Moon falls on June 24.
“June is the Strawberry Moon and for us Haudenosaunee, which Renee and myself are, that strawberry is very instrumental,” Labonte said.
The Strawberry Moon reminds us “nobody exists in a vacuum. We’re all connected together especially when we’re able to chat and share something,” Labonte said.
This cycle reflects the matriarchal nature of Haudenosaunee culture.
“We follow our mother’s lineage and that in itself is very important,” she said.
Labonte has worked for decades as a counsellor and teacher for people of all ages.
Education “to me is one of the most important things because at one point we are the student and then we become the teacher,” she said.
“Teaching others how to do what you’ve learned, or even just teaching your children, passing on those skills, that’s what’s going to keep our culture alive and thriving.”
Having worked in correctional institutions, Labonte knows first-hand the power of cultural teaching on individuals.
“They’re like sponges, they’re like little kids. They just want to learn all different things,” she laughed.
Tickets for Labonte’s and Thomas-Hill’s talk can be purchased at Niagaraparks.com/indigenous.