Kitchissippi is an Algonquin word meaning “Great River” and travellers of the pathway along the Kitchissippi might have noticed a new addition the scenery that is bringing a small taste of the Algonquin traditional knowledge to the people of the community.
The Kitchissippi Medicine Wheel is located in a small clearing just east of the Champlain Bridge along the Ottawa River pathway. It’s hard to miss as you slow down to peak the small hill it sits atop of. The wheel was constructed by Tim Yearington, 48, a Westboro Métis artist, author, nature guide and teacher of Algonquin traditional knowledge.
Yearington constructed it with his partner, Shannon, to commemorate and honor National Aboriginal Day on June 21. The couple were amazed to see the medicine wheel untouched days and weeks after.
“The Medicine wheel is a tool that helps people understand the four directions,” says Yearington. The circle of stones laid out on the ground has four coloured stones, yellow is East, red is South, black is West and white is North. The four directions symbolize many layers of the external and internal worlds, the seasons, the elements, stages of life and parts of your being.
In the centre of the wheel is where the four directions merge and become one. “That’s where we aspire to stand and be balanced and be at harmony,” says Yearington.
Yearington’s life has been split between time spent as an artist – doing commercial and freelance illustration – and time spent working on the land as a nature guide. In 2009 he designed the Manitou Mountain hiking trail in the Madawaska Highlands near Calabogie.
In 2010, Yearington published his first book, That Native Thing, Exploring the Medicine Wheel. The book is a deep look into the history and teaching of the medicine wheel, featuring Yearington’s own illustrations. “I wrote that book to make sense of all the teachings in a clear, concise way,” he says. “As I was writing that, I was making sense of things myself.”
Yearington spent several years living in Ottawa while working as an artist before leaving for the rural, valley areas. He returned to Westboro six months ago looking for change. Presently Yearington is perusing his passion for sharing his knowledge with the community, “There are not a lot of resources available for people to find authentic traditional knowledge, I’m hoping to make the knowledge and the teachings accessible to people.”