First Nations Father Recounts His Battle with Grief through Language and Ceremony
First Nations Father Recounts His Battle with Grief
through Language and Ceremony
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WIKWEMIKONG, ONTARIO, May 12, 2016 – Local band member, grieving father, and survivor of Residential Day School, Kenn Pitawanakwat, of Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve has announced the publication of his personal journal of bereavement and grief following his son’s accidental death, When My Son Died ($19.95 US/Amazon). This 159-page book sheds light on death from a First Nations perspective and aims to help others with similar experiences.
Pitawanakwat suffered the unexpected loss of his son Shannon to a snowmobile accident two year’s ago. Shannon’s death triggered regrets and a landslide of traumatic family memories suppressed since childhood. Unable to find any self-help resources on grief that rendered First Nations realism, Kenn wandered alone trying to reconcile with this tragedy. This book is the product of that journey.
Raw, honest, and unafraid, When My Son Died is the story of a man’s deepest loss, written in the tongue of his own cultural grief. It is a visceral look into a man’s pain and his fight to thrive. (E.D.E. Bell, author of the Shkode Trilogy)
Frozen by an overwhelming sense of helplessness and confusion, Pitawanakwat, a long time Anishinaabe traditional healer and medicine man himself, turned to ceremony and writing. Desperately praying for protection of Shannon’s spirit, Kenn renewed himself in the language of his ancestors and was gifted with visits from the spirit world that brought him comfort and reassurance: Shannon’s spirit consoled him, nurtured his hunger for insight on the circle of life, and enabled him to experience lighthearted moments once again. When My Son Died is now available from Amazon.com or can be ordered from www.kennpitawanakwat.com.
When My Son Died is Pitawanakwat’s sorrowful journal – written while grappling with his son’s sudden death and agonizing over lost opportunities to right past wrongs. Kenn’s own experience with the intergenerational trauma of Residential School Syndrome and his personal intimacy with the spirit world may support other Aboriginal people experiencing grief from loss or separation from a loved one, particularly a child. Readers of all backgrounds will find the book gripping in its authentic expression of mourning, and parents will find it especially heart wrenching, but the author demonstrates that love transcends death. His account of unconventional dimensions of communication beyond the physical will challenge readers to expand their understanding of life. (Reader review, Amazon.ca)
About the Author:
Kenn Pitawanakwat, Masters in Individualized Studies, is the author of several essays, poems and short stories depicting First Nations characters and issues of interest. He started his career in film production and acting prior to holding various First Nations community development positions that eventually led him to pursue his unquenchable interest in his mother tongue. Recognized as an authority in the endangered Odawa language, Kenn helped establish an Anishinaabe Studies Program at Northern Michigan University where he taught for eight years. Pitawanakwat uses his Indigenous knowledge and gifts to help families, couples, and individuals of all ages in First Nations communities and urban centres across Canada and the US to overcome abuse, violence and trauma. Kenn was a grief counsellor to Residential School Survivors at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada hearings and continues to use his personal and professional knowledge and skills to promote healing. He lives on Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Ontario, Canada, with his wife, Lorraine, and family. For more information, or to schedule an interview with or appearance by Mr. Kenn Pitawanakwat, please call 705-210-0496 or send an email to [email protected] or visit www.kennpitawanakwat.com. Review copies are available to the media on request.
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Contact: Kenn Pitawanakwat
Email: [email protected]