Wiidookaagewag is an Ojibwemowin (Ojibwe language) word that speaks to a group of people who help. Helping in our communities comes in many forms and with many responsibilities.
Our wiidookaagewag have their special role in our communities across Turtle Island and they vary from place to place, but each role is as important as the other. Each of us has special gifts to share. We each came into creation with different beautiful gifts to offer our communities. Some of the best qualities of wiidookaagewag bimaadzijig (helper people) is that they’re always willing to do the work, and they’re always willing to help. We are all helpers; anyone can be a helper in every respect. It’s up to individual choice as to what people desire to share with each other, but when you see an opportunity coming, a helper seizes that moment and learns. If you feel called to do different roles of helping within your community, when you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask. One of the greatest gifts that we can offer community is readiness – the readiness to always help in ways that are respectful and safe for our vessels and spirits. Some traditional roles that we carried out in the past were: caring for the water in ceremony and in everyday life; gathering cedar and other medicines; loving and tending to the fire; cutting wood; gathering birchbark; mentoring younger youth on the roles and responsibilities within the community; leading in song and prayer for certain ceremonies; hunting and gathering; preparing feasts; serving elders and babies during feasting; being ready to help our families and communities with their respective needs.
It’s okay for community to either accept or not accept your offer, and the community should be given the opportunity to do so either way. Our helpers bring balance in difficult and joyous times for community. It is okay not to know or understand at first, and to be honest and acknowledge that these roles can be intimidating, but with time, patience, and lots of watching, teachings will unfold in many forms. It is important to always remember these were all teachings and knowledge we had when we left the creator, we just have to find it here in this realm, thus being the journey through life.
— Nikeeta miinwaa Aazhgankwe Tabobondung ndizhinikaaz, Aamik ndodem, Wasauksing ndoonjibaa.