When Al was looking for staff one spring, Alma suggested two of her own offspring, Peggy and Gerald. Both had the same charisma and work ethic as Alma. Peggy worked for the Reid's for just one summer, but Gerald stayed on to work at many different Reid camps for 42 years, breaking even Alma's record of 34 years. Gerald remains a cherished friend of the Reid family to this day.
Alma delighted in helping to raise another whole generation of Reid children, and just like she had with Lori, Alma kept a watchful eye over Lori's son Reece, when he worked at another of Al's new camps, Utik. Alma passed away January 23, 2017, at the age of 88.
Gerald Hart presents Al with an Eagle Feather and Star Blanket for Being his Boss and Mentor
In Cree Culture, the Star Blanket means "Ahtahakoop." The guiding star represents a new beginning, the journey from darkness to the light, from ignorance to the truth.
The artistry of a Starblanket has been passed down to indigenous women generationally for hundreds of years. The craft of sewing with fabric came from missionaries in the mid-1800's; this was when modern-day Star Blankets replaced traditional Buffalo Robes. These blankets were presented to loved ones, to honour young braves and praise warriors returning from a successful hunt. Quite often a Star Blanket was used on vision quests, during a smudge, or in a sweat lodge.
The star has eight points symbolizing kindness, humility, honesty, respect, healing, forgiveness, wisdom, and love. The points face outward which represents the relationship with family, friends, and the community.
During a ceremony, the recipient will have a Star Blanket wrapped around their shoulders as a symbol of honour and the highest respect. The tradition lives on as milestone events such as births, deaths, weddings, graduations, and special occasions are celebrated. Today, many believe a Star Blanket will help you attain your dreams and bring good fortune.
The Eagle Feather:
Native American warriors were awarded a feather when they won a battle or were particularly brave in war. When a feather falls to the earth, it is believed to carry all of the bird's energy, and it is perceived as a gift from the sky, the sea, and the trees. Feathers may arrive unexpectedly but not without a purpose.
The eagle’s feather symbolizes what is highest, bravest, strongest, and holiest. It has strong medicine.
United States law recognizes the unique significance of eagle feathers in Native American culture, religion, and tradition. The eagle is a highly protected creature under U.S. law, but special exceptions are made to allow Native Americans to possess, pass down, gift, and acquire eagle feathers within specific conditions.
An eagle's feathers are given to another in honor, and the feathers are displayed with dignity and pride. They are handled with great regard. In fact, if an eagle feather is dropped during a dance, a special ceremony is performed before picking it up again, and the owner is careful to never drop it again.
The eagle feather is also used to adorn the sacred pipe because it is a symbol of the Great Spirit who is above all and from whom all strength and power flows. When a feather is held over a person’s head, it is a blessing, wishing bravery and happiness. To wave it over everyone present means everyone is wished peace, prosperity, and happiness.
That Gerald bestowed such honours on him is a testament to Al's lifelong love and respect for people. As much as Alma was a second mom to Lori, Al was a second dad to Gerald. Until the end, Gerald visited Al, and has stated how much he now misses him.