Families First prepares Sweat Lodge

“We’re always getting a request to do more culture related programs,” said Christine Metallic, the Cultural Coordinator with Families First.

Six weeks of information sessions just finished on May 4th. All the sessions were leading to the upcoming fast.

“We started off with the medicine gathering … and [identified] what they’re for, and holistically how you can start taking care of yourself,” Metallic said.

All the sessions were aimed at different ways of taking care of yourself, with a holistic understanding in mind.  “As Mi’gmaq people, what ceremonies are out there,” Metallic asks.

Some of the ceremonies that are being practiced closely mimic the land, as the snow melts away.

“The fast – it’s about shedding stuff from the past, and just being able to move on,” said Metallic. “Spring is the time a lot of ceremonies take place. Spring and summer. Our highest ceremonies and our Sweats are taking place.”

This is the first time Families First is hosting this fast, but it is certainly not the first time this fast is being held.

“I have family members that have been fasting forever,” Metallic said. “We’ve been fasting in our territory – we just don’t talk about it. We just don’t come right out and say this is what we’re doing.”

But for whatever reason, right now seems to be a good time. While there are obstacles in just about anything you try to do, Metallic said these last few events have “been a breeze.”

“People are actually coming out, wanting to volunteer, wanting to learn,” she said.

The final session ended with Karen Kimbell and her knowledge of herbal medicines.

If interest continues, Metallic said she could see sessions such as these being available quarterly. It depends on demand.

“Every program that’s based in Families First is based on our client’s needs.”

The sweats are open to anyone. But it’s always asked that people refrain from alcohol and drugs – even for the days leading up to the Sweat Lodge.

“While we have people who are fasting one, two, or three days, not everybody is going to be fasting,” Metallic said.

Usually, when someone starts a fast, they go into a sweat first. And they finish their fast by going in to another sweat. Since people will be fasting for different lengths of time, organizers plan to have a sweat each morning.

Volunteers are also definitely welcomed. “We’re gonna need help in preparing the area. Building the teepees, the Sweat Lodge, keeping the area clean,” she said. “It ends up becoming a workload.”

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