Construction of a traditional healing space in Morley begins

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Newly planted rows of berry bushes near Wesley Elders Lodge in Mînî Thnî mark the beginning of a new traditional healing space taking shape.

Newly planted rows of berry bushes near Wesley Elders Lodge in Mînî Thnî mark the beginning of a new traditional healing space taking shape.

Over the next few weeks, community members of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation will have a place where they can gather, or be alone, to tap into their traditional practices – including berry harvesting – in the name of healing wounds. community and reconnect with their Indigenous Roots.

“Our young people have been dying over the past few years because of opioids and the drug epidemic,” said Jeanette Wildman, Cultural Liaison Officer for Stoney Health Services. “We lost a lot of young people from the reserve, including our young mothers.

“It touched me a lot because I lost two of my grandsons in this crisis… the youngest was 16. We really need to be able to heal from what happened to our people and to having a place to go to find serenity.”

Earlier this spring, Wildman approached community pipe holders about the vision for the space, which will include a sweat lodge, smokehouse, ring of fire, two teepees, a pick-your-own berry farm and a medicine wheel. .

It is funded primarily by the Canadian Roots Exchange CREation Community Grant, with approximately $10,000 coming from Stoney Health Services.

The primary goal of the $90,000 project is to create a space where people can heal their personal and collective traumas by reconnecting with who they are as Indigenous people.

“As we lose our traditional values, our culture – our young people are slowly being lost,” Wildman said. “But here you can spend a night in a tepee or take your child or grandchild to spend the night there and show them what it’s like.

“You can use the smoking room, sit here and pray, participate in a sweat lodge ceremony and hopefully listen to some teachings from elders.”

Wildman, who is a residential school survivor, recalls a memory of her grandmother predicting “a grim cast” on the community’s youth in generations to come.

“That’s how I see this drug crisis that we’re going through,” she said. “All of this residential school trauma has been going on for generations.

Wildman said she once faced her own battle with drug addiction due to the eight years she spent at Morley Indian Residential School, which is now the current site of Morley Community School.

“I was an alcoholic,” she says. “And when I had my own kids, I didn’t know how to say ‘I love you’ because I was away from my parents and it was never said to me at school.

“Things like this have gone on for too long and we need to be able to do better for our community and for our young people.”

Eventually, Wildman hopes to see youth-focused programs held in the healing space, including traditional drum-making and hide-tanning workshops.

All religions and spiritualities will be welcome to use the area – a fenced lot that overlooks Mînî Thnî, the Bow River and the Rocky Mountains. However, Wildman says it is not intended to serve as a tourist attraction.

“This place should be respected,” she said, adding that the sweat lodge and medicine wheel have special spiritual significance.

Construction of the area is expected to finish in July, but the grand opening will take place in August, by which time a name will have been chosen to represent its intent – to promote healing, cultural identity and togetherness.

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