Valerie Allan | May 18, 2016

A group of 22 NAEC students and 4 staff went to a Sweat Lodge ceremony in Inverary at the home of Bernard and Tammy Nelson, on April 29. There was no cost for this trip, as it was paid for by NAEC’s “Speak Up” grant. The Sweat Lodge ceremony is a First Nations ceremony designed to promote personal and spiritual well-being. It combines story-telling, prayer and steam in a holistic approach. The students and staff were educated on the background of the Sacred Fire and the Sweat Lodge. The Sacred Fire is started several hours before the ceremony, and watched over by the fire keeper. The stones, which are placed in the Sweat Lodge and given water to drink (which creates steam), are called the Grandfathers and Grandmothers. They were introduced by the fire keeper, Burk Donio, and Lucas Parks accepted them and placed them in the centre of the lodge.

By a strange twist of fate, one of the students, Emma Fuller, realized that she was in the former home of her great grandfather and great grandmother. This added a layer of meaning to the ceremony, which honours family members.

As well as participating in the Sweat Lodge ceremony, the student helped prepare a feast. Because of Emma Fuller’s connection to the location, she was asked to prepare the Spirit Plate. This consists of a small sample from each dish, sprinkled with tobacco and offered to the Sacred Fire.

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