Michael Garron Hospital, members of The Aboriginal Healing Program and community members will offer a sacred fire and pipe ceremonies on Wednesday, Oct. 20, as a memorial and condolence for everyone who has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sacred fire will be at the Bear’s Den All Nations Traditional Sweat Lodge which is located on the grounds of the hospital at 825 Coxwell Ave. The Bear’s Den is located at the north end of the hospital site, relatively close to the southeast corner of Mortimer and Coxwell avenues.
The event will “honour and acknowledge community members of all nations living with the impacts of COVID-19,” said a hospital press release.
“COVID-19 has taken an emotional, mental, spiritual and physical toll on everyone, especially those working in healthcare and who experienced loss during the pandemic. With many restrictions in place, it has been difficult to mourn and celebrate loved ones and community members who made their way to the spirit world during COVID-19,” said the release.
“While we continue to brave the fourth wave of the pandemic, it is important that we pause to reflect and commemorate all that we have been through and begin the healing and recovery journey together. Our hope is to offer an inclusive space for community members to honour their grief and to acknowledge our gratitude for the healthcare workers and community members who made it off the ventilators”
There are a number of ways local residents can take part in Wednesday’s events.
The sacred fire will burning all day and people can stop by at any time.
Pipe ceremonies led Elder Little Brown Bear, Director of Aboriginal Education, Programs and Culture and The Aboriginal Healing Program at the hospital, will take place at 8 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. on Oct. 20.
The pipe ceremony is traditionally used to open conversations between different nations and communicate with the spirits. The pipe is wrapped in a cloth bag and is usually part of a sacred bundle that is owned by the pipe carrier.
A sacred fire is considered an important part of spirituality and wellness in the Aboriginal community. It is a sacred practice considered to be a spiritual doorway to communicate with ancestors in the spirit realm. As part of this tradition, there is a firekeeper who maintains and tends to the fire. A sacred fire allows one to heal, feel grounded, and connect with community.
There will also be traditional medicines available for those who wish to send prayers through the sacred fire on Oct. 20.
Healthcare workers and community members are invited to share a personal and heartfelt message on the hand-painted intention board at the Bear’s Den to commemorate their lived experience during COVID-19.
“We are so proud of our healthcare teams at MGH and recognize how challenging the past 18 months have been on all of us – both personally and professionally. We hope you will join us on Oct. 20 to reflect on the impacts of COVID-19 and begin the important healing and recovery process of getting back to the lives we knew before the pandemic,” said the hospital press release on behalf of Little Brown Bear and Michael Garron Hospital CEO and President Sarah Downey.