July 6, 2021
By Jordan Cryderman
Warning – some may find the material in this article triggering or distressing. If you are suffering or need someone to talk to, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, and can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.
From June 18th-20th, Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS), along with the Nadleh Whut’en and Stellat’en First Nations, hosted a Wiping of the Tears healing ceremony at the former site of the Lejac Residential School.
The intention of this ceremony was to not only honour the 215 children found buried at the former site of the Kamloops Residential School and release their souls to the creator, but to honour all children who have been lost. As well, it was meant to uphold the survivors as they continue their healing journeys through traditional healing ceremonies and access to mental health services.
All were invited to attend the ceremony, including those from other nations and non-Indigenous peoples. This was a time to grieve, and to let go of the pain, guilt, or other emotions and thoughts people may have been carrying as a result of the recent triggering and devastating news.
The ceremony followed like a wake, which involved three days of mourning. During the ceremony, everyone supported each other in their pain and grief, which then gets lighter over the three days.
We had many activities planned throughout the weekend to aid people with their healing. There were Tse (medicine) Beds, Spruce Brushing, individual Letting Go ceremonies, smudging, and energy work. Many formed drumming circles and sang traditional songs for hours. There were also four sacred fires burning continuously during the three days, which were monitored by fire keepers.
During the closing ceremonies, we were graced by many special guests, including an opening prayer by Wet’suwet’en elder Rita George, Chief Corrina Leween, Taylor Bachrach, Chief Terry Teegee, and Kukpi7 (Chief) Wayne Christian. There were also a number of traditional songs performed by Candice George, Tannis Reynolds, and Saik’uz drummers Jasmine Thomas, Gladys Michelle, and Maureen Thomas. All of the closing ceremony speeches can be found on the Carrier Sekani Family Services’ YouTube page.
To close the ceremony, everyone was invited to write their thoughts on a piece of paper and then burn it. By doing so, you let go of those thoughts or emotions and are then released to the creator – it is no longer your burden. People were also smudged a final time before leaving by Elder Minnie Thomas of Saik’uz, who prepared a fire in the east for the papers to be burned in.
Healing the spirit can last a lifetime, and this event was one step along that journey. By accepting the past and letting that pain go, the future generations can learn from us and ensure that Indigenous people are never treated this way again.
This event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of so many partners, including the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), the Nadleh Whut’en, Stellat’en, many of the CSFS staff who planned the event, including Marilyn Janzen and Rhoda Hallgren, as well as those who volunteered their time to help during the event. Special thanks are also in order for the Horizon North camp that is situated near the Lejac site. They heard that we ran out of sandwiches, and with little notice, provided hundreds of sandwiches for the event – Snachelya.
Every Child Matters.
Last modified: Friday 12-Jun-20 15:43:45 PDT