Songay Damowin The House of Courage

In November 2012 BUILD held a naming ceremony for our new home at the Social Enterprise Centre. The purpose was to honour the spirit of the people who come to BUILD as trainees and employees.

The ceremony took place in what was BUILD’s workshop (now the computer lab) with trainees and staff filling the large room. All of the windows were covered to block out light. Elder Jules Lavallee requested that people who represent the four directions of the medicine wheel sit in a circle in the middle of the workshop with him. The lights were turned off and the room was completely dark. Four songs were sung and at a point the vision became complete – the spirit appeared to Jules.

Jules saw seven bears, all of different sizes, enter the circle. He told them, “I have been given the responsibility for a name for BUILD” and further communicated what inspired the gathering. The name of the first spirit bear to appear to Jules was Manitou Makwa. Manitou Makwa brings the colour blue and represents courage, bravery and healing. Following the vision of the spirit, a thought came to Jules, Songay Damowin, meaning “The House of Courage.”

Indeed, BUILD has become Sangay Damowin – not by what it offers to trainees, but by what trainees bring to BUILD. Many overcome huge hurdles to get to work every day with the purpose of changing their lives and the lives of their families. These hurdles can include a criminal record, addiction, trauma, lack of education, or no driver’s license, among others. We recognize that it takes each trainee great courage to overcome their own obstacles in life.

Courage does not mean taking action with the absence of fear but taking action in spite of fear.