By Jaimie Rosenwirth, Suwa’lkh Environmental Education Program Lead
How is cedar used? What is the meaning of cedar? These questions will be answered while you read through this post. We will also be talking about the four sacred medicines, which you can read more about HERE.
Collecting Cedar from the Healing Forest
When clearing pathways in the Healing Forest, the Leadership students and myself found quite a few branches of cedar that had fallen due to wind. Instead of adding the branches to our compost pile, we thought we could save the cedar and bundle it for use. When we had brought the bundles inside, we cut the branches in order to use them in a bundle. I cut the branches smaller and worked to bundle them all with the students and Tash Pellatt, one of the teachers at Suwa’lkh School from from Shuswap’s Dog Creek Nation who is passionate about infusing First Nations teachings in student learning and healing.
The thing about cedar is that if you are in need of it, you can cut a couple branches, but you will want to leave an offering of tobacco, which is one of the four sacred medicines, at the base of the tree as a thank you. It is nice to leave an offering of tobacco as well when you take fallen branches. During this process we were able to use tobacco that we grew onsite last year.
Making Medicine Bags
During class, the students made medicine bags of cedar, another one of the four sacred medicines. Having access on school grounds and to the sacred medicines is amazing. A medicine bag is a small pouch worn by indigenous people. You place sacred medicines inside that will help you heal. You can also put, tobacco, white sage and sweetgrass. Each sacred medicine has a different meaning and purpose.
We are working to have access to all four sacred medicines on site. We grow tobacco each year and were able to dry the leaves and it is shared with the indigenous education department in SD43 and Suwa’lkh. We are trying to figure out the best watering cycle for the sweetgrass and white sage.
The Purpose of Burning Cedar
Cedar is burnt while praying to the creator in meditation. It is also used to bless a house before moving in as is the tradition in the Northwest and Western Canada. It works both as a purifier and as a way to attract good energy in your direction; it cleanses and chases away negative energies and beings.
We have cedar bundles available by donation. All the funds will go towards re indigenizing the Healing Forest. We will be adding in native plants in place of the invasive plants that we have been removing over the years. This year we are planning which plants to put in the forest with the Leadership class. They seem to be really excited about making these choices.
National Indigenous Peoples Day
As we shared on last year’s Truth and Reconciliation Day blog , our team has compiled a few ideas of ways you can celebration National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st:
- Learning about the history of the land you are on: the people and nations to whom that land belongs, the languages spoken, and the treaties covering that land (if any). Good starting points: native-land.ca
- Familiarizing yourself with the Calls to Action identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (bit.ly/2TyF8nm) and the Calls for Justice identified by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (bit.ly/2Z45QDs), and reaching out to your government representatives at all levels of government to ensure that all of the calls are implemented.
- Reflecting on important questions such as: What are you grateful for on this land? How can you express this gratitude to the land and its original inhabitants? What commitments can you make going forward to the people whose land you are occupying?
- Taking time to learn more about the experiences, cultures and histories of Indigenous peoples by signing up for a course, such as Indigenous Canada offered by the University of Alberta (https://lnkd.in/gYQa8vt), and visiting local communities when invited.
Additional links you can check out: