Writer in Residence

Let's Get Started

By Lorrie Potvin

Hello Open Book ‘ers, 

My name is Lorrie and it’s my privilege to be the Writer in Residence for the month of October.  I’m honoured and truly humbled.  

I’ll pass on a big introduction as it’s my hope that over the next few weeks through my posts you’ll come to know who I am, what I am about, and what I do.  Maybe even where I’ve been.


Maarsii, thank you, and meegwetch for welcoming me into your circle, and for being part of my circle today and for the Fall days to come.  When I first came into circle, I found my spot.  It was there waiting for me, a space that could only hold my being, no one else’s.  The circle was a place where I was safe.  It was a space that respected me, my voice, and my way of being.  Since then, I’ve been in dozens, if not hundreds, of circles for sharing, healing, drumming, and for moon, naming, sweat, and pipe ceremonies.  I’ve named some but certainly not all.  Where’s there’s an event there’s a circle.

It's in the circle where we sit beside each other as equals, no one in front or behind the other.  We talk one at a time supporting the speaker with our attention and silence.  An Elder shared with me that in a circle we can lean on the person either to our right or left.  We will always be supported and held.  Like dominoes we can lean in either direction but never really fall.  Imagine the same lean with people sitting in a row on a bench. What happens to those perched at the end?

Most circles I’ve attended always start with a smudge and a prayer.  A smudge is a burning of medicines.  I use mostly sage, but I’ve added sweetgrass, cedar, or bear root or lavender or another medicine as prompted, either by spirit or whatever is in my medicine bag.


Imagine taking a deep breath, inhaling in the fragrant smoke from smouldering sage cupped by an abalone shell.  It doesn’t quite smell like turkey roasting on Christmas day, but some varieties of sage come close, like the prairie sage I harvested last year while staying a couple of days in the Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.  My remembrance of the grasslands prompts visions of prairie sunsets.  Incredible and stunning.  Apologies, I digress, they are worthy of their own story.

The smudge is used to help us ready ourselves for circle.  We wash it over our heads, hearts, and bodies.  A reverent cleansing for staying in presence is how I see it.  I honour that everyone’s experience with medicines can be and is likely different from the other.  Even what we see as medicine is only defined by the viewer.  My medicine is whatever feeds my spirit in a good way and that which makes me happy.  Some days this could be chocolate!  

I’d like to offer a prayer as we gather and come together in one circle for the month.


Chi meegwetch for my life today, Creator.  I am truly blessed with another day, and I recognize that it only comes once.  I’ll do my best.

Maarsii for the wind that brings the air I breathe and for its cleansing powers and energy.

Creation, thank you for the water that sustains me.  Meegwetch for the four waters - the sea, the lakes, the rain, and the birth water.  

Maarsii and meegwetch for Grandmother Moon, for her grace, her vision, and for her work with the water and tides.

Maarsii for the fire that warms me and the life-giving energy of Grandfather Sun. 

Meegwetch for those Grandparents, and maarsii for the star people, the sky people, the little people, and the great mystery that holds us all, may it remain so.

Meegwetch for the tall standing ones, the plant nations, the four-leggeds, the flyers, the swimmers, and the crawlers. 


I say chi meegwetch for all the blessings of Mother Earth.  I receive them with humility and the understanding that I live because everything else does. 

Please leave room in your hearts for anything or anyone I may have missed, and for your own prayers or devotions or affirmations, however you honour your presence in Creation.

I say maarsii, chi meegwetch to the ancestors, spirit guides and helpers in all four directions.

Chi meegwetch, chi meegwetch, chi meegwetch, chi meegwetch.

All my relations.

Most days I say a shorter version of this prayer as a daily reminder to live my best life possible.  Yes, the sun rises every day, but it only truly comes round once.  

Again, I’m honoured to be a part of the Open Book family.  And did I tell you I got an award?  Well like a prairie sunset that’s another story.

With love, 

Lorrie xo

Photo Credit - the pics used in this piece were all taken by me from near where I live.  It's a phone thing!  Starting with the first:  the upper pond in Fall, an early Winter full moon, the lake on a Summer day, and the promise of Spring in Frontenac County.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Tradeswoman, artist, writer, and teacher Lorrie Potvin, a queerishly two-spirited Métis, is the author of Horses in the Sand: A Memoir. Her first book, First Gear: A Motorcycle Memoir and the essays "My tattoos speak of life and loss" and "Why I’m thankful for multiple sclerosis" (The Globe and Mail), were published under her previous surname Jorgensen, as was the short story, "The 13th Dock" in Writing At Wintergreen, an anthology edited by Helen Humphreys.

Working and teaching in the trades for over 30 years, Potvin holds an Inter-Provincial Red Seal in Auto Body Repair and Refinishing from Algonquin College and a diploma in Technological Education from the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, with additional qualifications in Manufacturing and Special Education. A citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, Lorrie lives on a lake north of Kingston in the area served by the High Land Waters Métis Council where she’s lived for 30 years, building her home and creating art made of stone, wood, hide and steel.