Father’s Day Q&A
Grandfather Teachings at the Heart of Being a Father for Staff member Raiden Levesque
As we celebrate Father’s Day on June 21, we had a special Q&A with Anishnawbe Health staff member Raiden Levesque. Raiden works with families as a Health Promoter, working to help the community members find balance in mind, body, spirit and emotion. Raiden will be celebrating Father’s day this year with his 8-year-old daughter Harmony.
Tell us about your daughter Harmony
I have a beautiful little girl who will be 8 in September. She is Métis and from the Thunderbird Clan. Her Spirit Name is Buffalo Woman. Harmony is like a lightning bolt. She has tons of energy and she is just a really happy sweet girl. She loves gymnastics and dancing and has been a fancy shawl powwow dancer since the age of three. Harmony is also a very caring person and has a profound wisdom about her with a knack for calming. If I’m worried about something she’s the first to say “Daddy, it’s okay”. She’s super full of energy, super full of life and super full of wisdom.
What does fatherhood mean to you?
The first thing that comes to mind is love – infinite love. Then the second thing that comes to me is security. Being responsible and doing the absolute best I can for that little beautiful ball of light. That gift that we received but also knowing that that gift is not necessarily my gift. It means that I have a responsibility to nurture my daughter and to do my best to raise her in a way that she grows up to be supported, to be loved, to be guided and empower her to find what sings to her as she grows into adolescence. Fatherhood is the most amazing opportunity I’ve ever had in my life and that also comes with a big responsibility. It’s a life-changer.
What did you learn from your own dad?
From my dad, I learned hard work. My dad was a very traditional man and a hard worker. My dad was big on getting to work on time and providing for our family. My dad was an amazing provider and had a very strong work ethic. I learned what it means to show up on time and to be respectful. To hold value for myself and for what I believe but also to be responsible and to be a care-giver to my daughter.
How does your Indigenous identity inform your parenting?
I think it’s a culmination of things. Specifically, my Indigenous identity is a huge part of my fatherhood and my family identity. It’s ingrained in us. First and foremost since Harmony was a baby I have been singing traditional songs to her every night. The dance has been a part of her life since she was a little one. I’ve tried my best to give her some of the teachings but in a way where I want her to question. I want her to find her truth. So I give her the teachings but I also remind her that it will up to her one day to take them and to see if it works for her. I think it’s an integral part of my family because it’s a part of me and it’s a part of her. Those teachings, the seven grandfather teachings specifically, the virtues and the values that are within those teachings are so important that I try my best as a father and as a family to incorporate those teachings with everything we do.
How has being a father impacted your role as a Health Promoter working with the Family Program at Anishnawbe Health?
Being a father has helped me considerably with first-hand experience with children as well providing me tools to learn patience. I already have that lens of patience because I’m used to it and I have a child of my own. Fatherhood has allowed me to relate, give feedback and appreciate the responsibilities that come with parenting. In a big way it’s allowed me to see and to get an understanding of what some of the challenges could be for families or single parents. My heart goes out to our community for the resilience and for the amazing job that I know each and every family and parent are trying to provide.
What advice do you have for other fathers?
My first advice for other dads is to make sure love is at the forefront of everything you are doing and love will guide the process. If we are in a state of embracing the love of that eagle, that message of Migizi, and we embrace the seven grandfather’s teachings and adopt them into our fatherhood that can be your guide. Also, make sure you are spending quality time with your children. It doesn’t have to be hours. Even if it’s 30 minutes to an hour of deep quality time, meaning you are engaged with your child and you are right there with them in their activities. I find the more you do this, the less you are going to feel guilty and the easier your heart is going to be. The more present you are with your child, the less load you’re going to carry on your back.
This year Father’s Day and National Indigenous People’s Day fall on the same day, do you have any special plans?
The last two years I’ve been away Firekeeping for a sun dance in the Black Hills and that has been tough because my daughter and I are super close. This Father’s Day is about connecting with my little one and getting to have some fun. Gain a little bit of me — time maybe cook my favourite meal but also have a lot of fun and laughs with my little girl. For sure we will wake up and do a sunrise ceremony, sing some songs, give our offerings and go down to the river. Certainly, we will 100% doing a ceremony on that day and many days this month.
If you would like to learn more about the 7 Grandfather Teachings please visit http://www.7generations.org/?page_id=2396#