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U of M Elder in residence, Norman Meade, speaking at ABEP's 20th Anniversary Celebration.

U of M Elder in residence, Norman Meade, speaking at ABEP's 20th Anniversary Celebration.

Helping others through their spiritual journey the ‘most rewarding part’ for Elder Norman Meade

February 16, 2018 — 

Norman Meade, Elder-In-Residence at the University of Manitoba, knew from a young age that his calling was as a spiritual guide.

“I can remember as a little guy growing up, I was a spiritual child,” he says.

“I knew I had that strong spirit, because I could connect with the higher power, God, and the Creator through prayer. When I think back now, from age 70 to seven, I knew that it was a calling for me.”

Currently, Meade’s presence is felt as a mentor for students on campus, as well as a recently ordained Pastor in the province. The latter was an honour that he didn’t necessarily expect.

“There’s not too many Elder/Pastors around. There may be a few, but they’re usually either one or the other. But for me, it’s an Elder/Pastor role. They don’t really fit one on top of the other, they’re more like two circles that come together and overlap,” he says.

“When the Bishop asked me if I would consider being ordained, I thought, well I’m doing the work anyway, I guess I will accept that responsibility. It took a long time to get to that point, and even though I didn’t plan it that way, when you’re being led by the spirit, you have to go where the spirit leads you.”

This weekend, Meade was honoured with an A.C.E (Aboriginal Circle of Educators) award for his work bridging traditional and biblical teachings, as well as providing Indigenous perspectives in education.  In his eyes, the most rewarding aspect of his work is being able to teach others.

“It’s so very important to help others through their spiritual journey in life, and it’s the most rewarding part too,” he says.

“I’ve been given two or three star blankets now, and when they wrap that star blanket around you and thank you for the work you’re doing in the community, it’s a very emotional feeling.”

On top of his spiritual work in the community, Meade is also an avid curler who founded the Aboriginal Curling League in 1992. He had moved to Winnipeg a few years prior, and noticed that while there were a sprinkling of Aboriginal curlers spread throughout the city, there wasn’t a specific league in place.

“The whole idea behind [the league] was to have a family curling league, where we had families coming together,” Meade says. “Anybody could bring their children or grandchildren out, and we started with this family idea, of getting Aboriginal families out.”

The league also hosts an annual bonspiel in March at Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club. Entering its 25th year, the weekend-long event serves as an opportunity to network and bring together Aboriginal people together in a safe and healthy place.

“When we think about building strength in a community, it’s finding a way to bring people together in a good way,” Meade says.

“When we talk and laugh, we’re talking about where we come from, whether it’s Norway House or Manigotagan or wherever it may be. As the grandfather of Aboriginal curling, that’s what a grandfather likes to see. A grandfather likes to see the coming together of community.”

Regardless as to which role Meade serves for the community, he never forgets to honour his personal mentors, while also providing guidance to others.

“Learning is a lifelong journey, and your mentors are all along that pathway,” he says. “Mentorship is something that’s an exchange, especially when you get older.”

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