On June 28, elders from the St. Mary’s First Nation visited the Portage rehabilitation centre at Cassidy Lake to perform a sweat lodge ceremony with the youth.
Residents followed the elders’ guidance to build the sweat lodge, gathering alder branches from around the site and using sacred stones, collected during a trip to Nova Scotia. Ribbons were tied onto the branches to decorate the structure’s interior.
Throughout the day, each gender community partook in four rounds of the sweat lodge ceremony, interspersed with their usual group meetings and other program elements. They learned that the purpose of our sweat is to purify our bodies, minds, and spirit. The day drew to an end with a feast, during which the community debriefed on their experiences and thanked the elders.
“The feedback from the residents was all positive – an amazing experience for them,” said Katrina Schwetz, Program Manager for the female community.