Chii-kaa-shky/ Star Watcher
The breadth of Elder Walter’s activist and cultural work spans over 45 years. His support for community has been prolific and unwavering, manifesting in numerous programs and inititiatives through education, social, political, and health advocacy, inter-cultural partnerships, mentorships, correctional facilities, diverse community boards, and liaison efforts with both government and law enforcement agencies.
His journey, like so many Indigenous people's, has not always been easy or smooth. Shortly after his father, Henry George Cook, passed over to the Other Side, Walter and his 4 siblings were scooped up, separated, and placed in various homes by Indian agents while his mother, Sarah Jane Showanash, spent a few years recovering from tuberculosis in a Winnipeg sanitorium. While there, she fell in love with Steve Legarde, a residential school survivor from Longlac, Ontario. They moved the family to the bush, 6 miles down the tracks from the small town of Geraldton, Ontario. The family grew to include 8 children, all of whom were eventually separated by the Children's Aid but later reunited.
Serving the Indigenous community is Walter’s calling; it is what lies closest to his heart. When he was 8-years old, he made a deal with the Creator: if the Creator would help him survive, he would dedicate his life to improving the quality of life for Indigenous people—his people.
He doesn’t know when he was granted the honourary title of Elder but he began formally serving as an elder through De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre in Hamilton, Ontario 16 years ago. Walter’s teachings come from his parents, his own choices within his family as well as listening and responding to the Old People/ Elders.
Many of the people who have come to Elder Walter over the years have been seeking (re)connection—with their culture and their family—they are all searching for Community. They have also sought his counsel in spiritual matters as part of their healing journey.
Some people need to heal themselves spiritually before they can heal themselves physically, mentally or emotionally.
There is a teaching that in order to grow and be empowered, one must address all the parts of one's self in mind, body, heart, and spirit. This teaching is what has grounded our Elder in all his work; it has inspired him to initiate countless bridge-building relationships, to develop and lead group and 1-on-1 programs, and to share his culture and represent the vitality of Indigenous people's issues whenever possible.
He is a humble man who doesn't seek the limelight nor does he like to take credit for the impact his passion and community service has had.
We are all here to support each another.
His legacy is rich. He believes that people have their own path to follow and over his lifetime, Elder Walter's path has included guiding, supporting, empowering, and celebrating the healing journey of thousands of people across Turtle Island.
He is also blessed with a wife and life partner of 48 years who supports him unconditionally and who has also humbly carried the sacrifice of public service. Elder Walter and his wife, Deborah, are most proud of their two sons, daughter, and five beautiful grandchildren who reside in Ontario, British Columbia, and overseas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO...
Donate today to the Walter Cooke Healing Fund... in solidarity with our elder on his—and our—shared healing journey.
Helping online and in the community.....
Mitch Baird is Cayuga Wolf Clan who's Father's family is originally from Six Nations and also a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario and website designer.
Walter has been a very positive influence on my life as a respected elder working in the community as a men's health advocate. It has been my pleasure and honour to create this site for Walter and help in some small way in his healing journey.
Feel free to reach out to me: email@example.com
TO HONOUR A GOOD LIFE
a community celebration
of Walter Cooke
Rod is from Henvey Inlet First Nation (Ojibwe, Bear Clan, ‘Bluestone Cloud’). He has been singing, dancing, drumming for over 2 decades now. He has been powwow M.C. on the French River, and is regularly invited to powwows and Aboriginal cultural events with the Bluestonecloud Drum throughout Ontario and United States.
Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen
Walter's Daughter—Family Rep
Gaamiinobimaadizidikwe/ She Who Walks In A Good Way (Bear Clan) is a proud daughter, mother, and independent theatre artist who gratefully lives on breathtaking Unceded Coast Salish territory in Vancouver, BC.
Chi Miigwech—Nia:wen to every single person who held steadfast in their belief in my Father's innocence. My family is humbled by these community initiatives and we remain ever-grateful for your on-going support in the journey ahead.