Dear Thunderbird


Dear Thunderbird

I remember when you were just an empty lot…but now you have become so much to so many. A place of peace for those besieged because of who they are, a place of learning for young people when they want to connect. You have been invaluable to my own spiritual learning, the ceremonies, the responsibilities and the opportunities to welcome travelers, receive and send them off in a good way. Thunderbird, you have been the guide for the young people of our community for so many years before we even knew you. And then you rose from the empty lot, in the middle of the exploitation and the guilt based charity. Strong, proud and like nothing we had ever seen. Traditional, warm, a reminder that Indigenous doesn’t mean drunk – a physical reminder of the beauty that lay inside of each of us. You welcomed the young people in when we had no money, only ideas. You helped Aboriginal Youth Opportunities begin on that cold Spring day , four years ago – March 17th, 2010. And look at that has happened since then….you have hosted drum gatherings, welcomed water walker’s, hosted birthday parties and celebrations for us young people. All this time, we couldn’t pay you. Not in dollars anyway, because we didn’t have many of those for ourselves. Many of us were homeless as we did this work – until we got to Thunderbird House. But instead, we worked. We learned the teachings you provided space for us to learn about, and we applied them. We did dishes, we swept floors, we helped elders – we were the helpers you showed us we were. That ethic applied to our work, and to our relationships with our friend, families and neighbours on the street brings us closer together. We  have tried to be the good ancestors, thinking seven generations ahead in our actions, and trying to give away our gifts as best we can in our community – asking for compensation only when it is possible from those we serve. We feel your pain – and are scared of what might happen if the Thunderbird House closed its doors? The very thought is terrifying. The next generation of AYO Leaders wouldn’t have a safe place to cry, heal and learn. They wouldn’t have a safe place to let their spirits soar for the first time, being brave enough to pick up a drumstick or begin to learn their own native language. Thunderbird House our young people need you, and we will begin to work in whatever ways you tell us we should, to help you stay open, and stand strong for our children, and theirs too. We love you for what you have done and what you continue to do.

Aboriginal Youth Opportunities stands with Circle of Life Thunderbird House & will raise awareness about their need for support in and around Winnipeg and Turtle Island. We don’t know how we are going to help you yet, but we know we have to start with love.


PS – Check out their status on March 17th, 2014

The theft that happens at Thunderbird House is regrettable. 
We have seen many items disappear. Both from the TBH itself, and from our numerous visitors.
That is the nature of our home. It is open for everyone. 
Unfortunately, not everyone is thankful for the house.
Unfortunately for some it is an opportunity to steal.
We are in a difficult situation. 
We have no money to keep the doors open.
We have no money to keep people from stealing.
But we have to keep the doors open.
That is why the volunteers, the renters are important to the house.
So the doors can be open to everyone.
What can we do?
That is our situation.
We hope that the City of Winnipeg, may decide to put us on their list of Community Centres and provide us with operating funds.
We hope that more of the community sees the opportunities and benefit of TBH and decide to rent space.
We say thank you for your patience.
We say thank you for your support.
We hope that the turn of events has not soured you to the good that can happen at Thunderbird House.
We can only pray that the people who steal eyes open to what they are doing.

6 thoughts on “Dear Thunderbird

  1. Natalie. Rostad Desjarlais says:

    THUNDERBIRD, please wake up, there are so many that need you to raise your wings…….Fly and bring the hopeful, the cynical, and the broken….Bring them to rise above the debris of the street.
    Thunder Bird you have been chosen…
    Chosen to not only invite, but to hold
    Thunderbird you have a mission.!
    Wake up, fly and deliver.
    Generations are waiting…..
    I anxiously await your presence.
    In spirit, Nat

  2. JC says:

    Beautiful letter “MC” … I sincerely hope that Thunderbird House is still open and continuing to offer healing and support for all those that need it……One of the best ideas put into downtown Winnipeg in my opinion.. It should get city support financially , it is a community centre and there is no reason it shouldn’t be acknowledged as one…

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