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This week, members of CUPE National Aboriginal Council, National Rainbow Committee and National Women’s Committee had the opportunity to participate in a traditional Aboriginal naming ceremony for CUPE Ontario Diversity Vice-President Joanne Webb. Following the second day of committee meetings in Ottawa, Elder Thomas Louttit conducted the ceremony for sister Joanne.


Traditionally an Aboriginal child would be given their Aboriginal name shortly after their birth. Naming takes place during a naming ceremony and is followed by a feast held in their honour. Many First Nations people, burdened with the legacy of residential schools, are getting their Aboriginal names later in life as they work to reclaim this part of their traditional culture.

Announcing sister Joanne’s Aboriginal name, Ogemah a na goke, to the four directions, elder Thomas explained how Aboriginal names are representative of who the person is and how they conduct themselves in the world.  He said sister Joanne’s name came to him during a sweat lodge ceremony.

Translated from Ojibway, Ogemah a na goke means “morning star” or the “leader of stars. Very appropriate for Joanne Webb; a leader, a mentor, a sister and a friend.