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National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

 

How will Oshawa Community honour Canada’s first National Day for Truth & Reconciliation? 

While many financial institutions will be closed on September 30th for The National Day for Truth & Reconciliation, Oshawa Community will remain open and will be commemorating the day with the following activities:

  • 9:00 am -9:15 am- Smudging
  • 9:20 am- Sun Dance 
  • 3:30 pm- Book Raffle 
 

Longtime member, Rick Bourque who will be performing a smudging at the Credit Union on The National Day for Truth & Reconciliation, did not grow up on a reserve and did not know very much about his Indigenous background until much later in his life.

 Growing up I didn’t know much about my heritage at all, says Rick.   “It wasn’t ‘cool’ to be Native in those days.”

 Rick was born in Chatham, NB where his family has lived for several generations.  Rick and his family moved to Ontario when he was only one years old and have lived in Oshawa ever since.  While Rick’s family are of indigenous descent, specifically, the Algonquin Nation, he was raised Roman Catholic.  Many Indigenous children were raised as Roman Catholics as this was the religion that was taught to the children in the Indian Residential Schools.  While Rick and his parents never went to a residential school, his paternal grandmother did as well as previous generations of his family.

 “No one ever talks about what happened there.  It’s too painful,” Rick explains.  “They just want to forget.”

 It wasn’t until Rick found himself on a native reserve camping with friends when he began to take an interest in his heritage.  On the camping trip, Rick was invited to sweat lodge ceremony which is said to purify the spirit.  Intrigued, Rick decided to participate in the ceremony, which is when everything changed. 

“I experienced a spiritual awakening.  It is really hard to describe it, and it is different for everyone,” explains Rick. 

Ever since his spiritual awakening 21 years ago, Rick is dedicated to learning about his heritage and sharing his knowledge with others.  Rick works for local organizations including UOIT and Ontario Shores, teaching people about indigenous culture as well as making indigenous arts like jewelry, stone knives and dreamcatchers with authentic materials including a variety of exquisite gemstones, leather, and feathers. 

What is Smudging?  

Smudging is traditionally a ceremony for purifying or cleansing the soul of negative thoughts of a person or place. There are four elements involved in a smudge: 

  • The container, traditionally a shell representing water, is the first element.

  • The four sacred plants (cedar, sage, sweetgrass, tobacco), gifts from Mother Earth, represent the second element.

  • The fire produced from lighting the sacred plants represents the third element.

  • The smoke produced from the fire represents air, the fourth element.

During a smudge, plant leaves or stems are placed in the container and ignited (preferably with a wooden match). The flames are then gently blown out and the smoke, which heals the mind, heart, and body, is wafted over the person, either by hand or with an eagle feather. The person being smudged pulls the smoke to them and gently inhales the smoke. The ashes traditionally are returned to mother earth by disposing them outside on bare soil - it is believed that the negative thoughts and feelings have been absorbed by the ashes. A person can smudge themselves, or someone can lead a smudge by holding the container and directing the smoke over others.  Smudging can also be used to clear negative energy from rooms and homes.Because smudging is vital to so many Indigenous patients, hospitals are increasingly modifying their policies and operations to accommodate smudging within their buildings. Some hospitals will even accommodate smudging in a patient’s room in an end-of-life situation. Some school districts are even recognizing smudging as necessary for their Indigenous students and have written guidelines and protocols for schools to follow. Smudging ceremonies are also used to educate non-Indigenous students about Indigenous culture and beliefs.

 

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Book raffle 

  • Five Little Indians Written by: Michelle Good

  • Secret Path Written by: Gord Downie / Illustrated by: Jeff Lemire 

  • 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act Written by: Bob Joseph 

  • Our Story: Aboriginal Voices on Canada's PastWritten by: Maria Campbell • Tantoo Cardinal • Tomson Highway • Drew Hayden Taylor • Basil Johnston • Thomas King • Brian Maracle • Lee Maracle • Jovette Marchessault • Rachel Qitsualik

  •  I Am Not a NumberWritten by: Jenny Kay Dupuis & Kathy Kacer / Illustrated by: Gillian Newland

We will have orange ribbons to promote awareness of The National Day for Truth & Reconciliation and to show support to the Indigenous community.  A donation box will be available for the public to make donations (any amount) to support an Indigenous charity.  The lovely ribbons were locally made by Ribbon Works in Ashburn, one of our long-time members. 

Visit Ribbon Works 

Niijkiwendidaa Anishnaabekwag Services Circle (NASC)

NASC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development and delivery of healing services for Anishnaabekwewag and their families who have been abused, are being abused, or are at risk of being abused.

Healing work is conducted through the use of traditional Anishnaabe spirituality, blended with other appropriate methods of healing.

NASC provides services to the following geographic areas: City of Kawartha Lakes, The County of Peterborough, The City of Peterborough, Haliburton, Northhumberland and Durham Region.

Donate here 

Sweat lodges are heated dome-shaped structures used by Indigenous peoples during certain purification rites and as a way to promote healthy living. The intense heat generated — often by steam created from pouring water onto heated rocks — is meant to encourage a sweating out of toxins and negative energy that create disorder and imbalance in life. In this way, the sweat lodge ceremony cleanses the body, mind, and soul.

Each sweat lodge is slightly different, depending on the community or person who operates it, and the purpose for which it is used. For example, some sweat lodge ceremonies are restricted to men, women, children, or members of certain clans; at other times, the lodge is open to all. There are also sweats specific to fasting rituals, or in celebration of the Sun Dance and other cultural traditions.

Despite these differences, there are important commonalities among sweat lodge ceremonies. Most importantly, the sweat lodge is a sacred place, likened to the womb of Mother Earth. Sweats are therefore deeply spiritual and cultural experiences for many people. For this reason, sweat lodges are run by special operators — sometimes called keepers, and oftentimes an elder or healer — who are well versed in traditional healing and sweat lodge practices. The operator knows how to conduct sweats safely and effectively, and for various purposes. The great majority of conductors do not charge a fee to participate in the sweat lodge, although it is customary to offer them cloth or tobacco for their services. 

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