Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Treaty Walk in Late Summer the Morning after My First Sweat

My cousin Angela and I walked into the little building behind the All Nations Healing Hospital in Fort Qu'Appelle. There was a lodge covered in canvas at the far side of the rectangular building. There was carpet on the ground. We could smell sage as Elder Alma welcomed us and introduced us to her daughters and daughter-in-law. We were invited to sit and wait for everyone to arrive.

Elder Alma explained some of the protocol, and continued explaining as she brought out her pipe. There was a lot of laughter and humility as Alma and her daughters (also pipe carriers) talked through the experience with each other and also explaining for our benefit. We were family among family, and it was a powerful introduction to my first sweat.

Elder Alma Poitras' daughter, Evelyn Poitras, had asked her mother to hold this sweat to bring blessing to Evelyn's initiative, Treaty Law School, to take place at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina for the next week.

After sharing in the pipe ceremony, we then began to learn the protocol of the sweat lodge. We did four rounds in the darkness of the lodge. It was very much like the prayer circles I've attended in my own faith tradition, minus the physical exhaustion of the heat. I could write much more, but I'm not sure of the protocol of speaking about such sacred moments.

The next morning I took a Treaty Walk through the beautiful Qu'Appelle Valley. I anticipated seeing the women again on Friday when Elder Alma and I would share our Treaty song at the Treaty Law School.




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