back arrowThe Death Dialogues Project Podcast

26. Kenn Pitawanakwat: When My Son Died

1:05:05

Episode description

Kenn Pitawanakwat, B.A., M.A., is a professor of an endangered language. A Graduate of York University and Northern Michigan University, Kenn steps forward as people’s confidant and Algonquian language etymologist. Kenn has been featured in film, social media, and academe. Kenn currently lives, with his wife, Lorraine, in northern Ontario, Canada, where his personal search for meaning in tragedy led to the writing of this book.

Credit: Al Joyner
FIRST NATIONS FATHER RECOUNTS HIS BATTLE WITH GRIEF THROUGH LANGUAGE AND CEREMONY

Contact: Kenn Pitawanakwat
Email: kennpitawanakwat1@gmail.com


WIKWEMIKONG, ONTARIO, May 12, 2016 – Local band member, grieving father, and survivor
of Residential Day School, Kenn Pitawanakwat, of Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve has
announced the publication of his personal journal of bereavement and grief following his son’s
accidental death, When My Son Died ($19.95 US/Amazon and as an Ebook $3.00). This 159-page book sheds light on
death from a First Nations perspective and aims to help others with similar experiences.

Pitawanakwat suffered the unexpected loss of his son Shannon to a snowmobile accident two
years ago. Shannon’s death triggered regrets and a landslide of traumatic family memories
suppressed since childhood. Unable to find any self-help resources on grief that rendered First
Nations realism, Kenn wandered alone trying to reconcile with this tragedy. This book is the
product of that journey.

"Raw, honest, and unafraid, When My Son Died is the story of a man’s deepest loss,
written in the tongue of his own cultural grief. It is a visceral look into a man’s pain
and his fight to thrive." (E.D.E. Bell, author of the Shkode Trilogy)

Frozen by an overwhelming sense of helplessness and confusion, Pitawanakwat, turned to
ceremony and writing. Desperately praying for protection of Shannon’s spirit, Kenn renewed
himself in the language of his ancestors and was gifted with visits from the spirit world that
brought him comfort and reassurance: Shannon’s spirit consoled him, nurtured his hunger for
insight on the circle of life, and enabled him to experience lighthearted moments once again.

When My Son Died is available from Amazon.com or can be ordered from
www.kennpitawanakwat.com.

About the Author:
Kenn Pitawanakwat, Masters in Individualized Studies, is the author of several essays, poems
and short stories depicting First Nations characters and issues of interest. He started his career
in film production and acting prior to holding various First Nations community development
positions that eventually led him to pursue his unquenchable interest in his mother tongue.
Recognized as an authority in the endangered Odawa language, Kenn helped establish a
Nishinaabe Studies Program at Northern Michigan University where he taught for eight years.
Pitawanakwat uses his Indigenous knowledge and gifts to help families, couples, and individuals
of all ages in First Nations communities and urban centres across Canada and the US to
overcome abuse, violence and trauma. Kenn was a grief counsellor to Residential School
Survivors at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada hearings and continues to use
his personal and professional knowledge and skills to promote healing. He lives on
Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Ontario, Canada, with his wife, Lorraine, and family.
For more information, or to schedule an interview with or appearance by Mr. Kenn
Pitawanakwat, email kennpitawanakwat1@gmail.com
or visit www.kennpitawanakwat.com. Review copies are available to the media on request.

episodes iconMore Episodes

33. Lifestyle : Deathstyle

July 18th, 2019

17:51

In this episode, Becky, creator of The Death Dialogues Project discusses the use of the word “lifestyle” in New Zealand & how we could all stand …

32. Widowed at 30: young mother of four negotiates life after loss

July 11th, 2019

1:07:32

Angela Mencl unexpectedly found herself a widow and single mother of four at age of 30. Angela not only lost her spouse but her sister passed away …

31. Tricia Barker shares her Near Death Experience (NDE)

July 2nd, 2019

1:02:37

Tricia Barker experienced a profound near-death experience during her senior year of college, and this experience guided her to teach overseas, in …

30. Kate Manser: You Might Die Tomorrow

June 25th, 2019

55:36

In this episode we hear what inspired Kate Manser to create the project You Might Die Tomorrow. Kate is just so happy to be alive. After experiencing four separate sudden deaths of friends in two years, she experienced …

29. Charlie’s Guys: one dear wee boy’s death brings gifts to siblings experiencing loss

June 18th, 2019

55:08

Hear from a mother who , after the death of her precious toddler, Charlie, channeled her energy into giving to other families experiencing a similar loss. Extraordinary. Kjerstin Davies is a southern California native, …

28. Modern Loss: co-founder Rebecca Soffer shares her story

June 9th, 2019

56:58

Rebecca Soffer is the cofounder and CEO of Modern Loss, a website and community the New York Times has hailed as “redefining mourning.” She is a …

27. John Pavlovitz on death & grief & love

May 31st, 2019

56:38

In the past two years, John Pavlovitz’s blog, Stuff That Needs To Be Said, has reached a diverse audience of millions of people across the world with …

25. Down to Earth Dying

May 19th, 2019

57:50

Down to Earth Dying: Caroline Schrank became a Funeral Director after planning funerals for her parents 8 years apart.  Her goal is to educate and …

24. To Die For— listening to our hearts & whispers from the beyond

May 9th, 2019

1:07:53

Anne O’Boyle Vlahos resides in Vermont with her husband and near their two children. She is still inspired today by her mother’s love of gardening and cooking and her father’s curiosity and love of nature. Her dog Moose …

23. The Accidental Episode

April 29th, 2019

39:23

Dan Ruderman (IG loveand_death_ because) agreed to be a guest on an episode of our podcast. But as we began to chat— he felt it was maybe too early. As you will hear, his wife’s death was on Thanksgiving Day November …

22. Grief is . . . –with Heike Mertins

April 21st, 2019

1:05:42

Heike Mertins is an author, blogger and speaker about grief, grieving and recovery. She is the author of “Grief is...Thoughts on loss, struggle and new beginnings” (2017) which chronicles her journey through the …

21. Surviving Siblings: Kellyn Shoecraft

April 13th, 2019

57:31

Coming upon Kellyn’s “surviving siblings” Instagram account and our ensuing conversation felt like a breath of fresh air. You’ll have to listen to …

20. Rob Hamill— The Power of Ceremony & Symbolism

April 5th, 2019

58:24

Olympian, Rowing Champ, Master Griever. Many New Zealanders are familiar with Rob Hamill and his story. Or stories. Well known as a highly esteemed elite athlete— excelling in rowing was precipitated by hugely traumatic …

19. Loss of a soul sister— a life transformed

March 29th, 2019

57:39

Meet today’s guest: EMILY HOLODY whose life was forever changed after her journey to the end of life with her soul sister and the family deaths that …

18. Guided by Grief: Lisa Bovee

March 22nd, 2019

1:02:45

Meet this episode’s guest, author of Guided by Grief/Guided by Now—
Lisa Bovee: Badass Author. Speaker. Mama. MiMi. Friend. Human.
When Lisa's son …

17. Reimagining Death: Lucinda Herring

March 14th, 2019

1:01:06

LUCINDA HERRING has worked at the cutting edge of the green funeral movement for more than twenty years, beginning with others in the 1990s to quietly care for loved ones after death. Today she is one of the leading …

16. Jane Cunningham: where death has taken me

March 5th, 2019

55:32

Jane Cunningham, from the Northland of New Zealand, discusses her experiences with death and how it’s affected her living. Jane understands that the world is hungry for a return to Spirit. She paints, prays, plays and …

15. Anything goes? personal thoughts on after-death-care

March 1st, 2019

30:53

Join Becky for a chat about what her journey has illustrated to her about making decisions about the care of her own body after death. Always …

14. from cardiologist to caregiver: lessons on dying

February 20th, 2019

1:05:14

Today we speak to Stephen Jennison, a cardiologist turned caregiver. Stephen shares lessons he’s experienced professionally and personally …

13. Bradley Cooper & Yoga Girl & Death & me

February 9th, 2019

45:45

Vulnerability alert: This feels raw as I share some of my own story precipitated by a lady-with-her-big-girl-pants-on-taking-a-road-trip and …

12. Part 2– a date with death: a love story

February 3rd, 2019

59:48

In this episode we explore Jana Buhlmann’s experience of walking beside her partner from stage four cancer diagnosis to his assisted death. This conversation is so deep and wide we are serving it up in two parts. You …

11. Part 1— a date with death: a love story

February 3rd, 2019

1:05:24

In this episode we explore Jana Buhlmann’s experience of walking beside her partner from stage four cancer diagnosis to his assisted death. This conversation is so deep and wide we are serving it up in two parts. You …

10. Yoga & Grief: a match made in heaven

January 25th, 2019

1:00:43

Listen to our conversation with Sandy Ayer creator of Yoga for Grief Support. Hear how experiencing her own tragic loss catapulted Sandy into action …

9. ghost stories: love never dies

January 18th, 2019

16:36

Have you ever felt a connection or seen or heard something that you feel was communication with someone who had died? We are finding this is a common …

8. So you walk into the New Year and there’s an empath, a medium, a ritual— and no bar . . .

January 7th, 2019

15:07

Join us for a chat from the little red shed about how our grief may be standing in the way of welcoming the New Year and a few helpful resources. And …

7. Travelling with Grief: a young widow’s story.

December 23rd, 2018

1:12:08

On this episode Dawn Picken shares the story of her husband of 10 years sudden illness and tragic death which left her to redefine her life with two young children. Dawn has written a memoir—Love, Loss & Facebook: …

6. To Embalm or Not to Embalm: a story of choosing the old fashioned way

December 12th, 2018

23:43

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is not by a mortician or an expert in those sciences. This is the story of a family who stepped back in time and cared for their loved ones in their home after their deaths. …

5. Grief & the Holidays: how to make your experience not suck

December 4th, 2018

50:13

Our guest, Stephanie Sprinkel, shares her experience of a less than optimal Thanksgiving and its affect on how she will rethink “celebrations” in the …

4. Post-Mortem of the debut production of The Death Dialogues Project.

November 27th, 2018

1:00:37

Have a listen if you want to get the vibe of what if was like at the event. Becky shares the “about” the project from the debut and then she and Svenja unpack the evening (including the possible attendance from the …

3. Traumatic Grief & Healing

November 14th, 2018

21:45

In our last podcast, traumatic grief was briefly touched upon. Today we unpack that concept a bit further because, in fact, understanding the dynamic …

2. The Wisdom of a Child

November 12th, 2018

19:00

A 14 year old talks death, dying & grief. Hear thoughts from a young man who experienced the death of a dear uncle and 3 grandparents within an …

1. Intro to The Death Dialogues Project podcast.

November 8th, 2018

7:16

Welcome! Hear a short overview of the who, what, why behind The Death Dialogues Project.

Loading ...

Download the RadioPublic app for
 FREE and never miss an episode.

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store