michael garron hospital sweat lodge

Toronto hospital opens traditional Indigenous healing sweat lodge

A new traditional Indigenous healing sweat lodge — called The Bear’s Den All Nations Traditional Medicine Sweat Lodge — has found a home at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) in Toronto. 

The official opening for the lodge was held yesterday and hosted by MGH, Toronto East Health Network and members of The Aboriginal Healing Program. 

The lodge is constructed in a dome-like shape, which represents Mother Earth’s womb, and measures approximately four metres in diameter.

It's made of flexible saplings, and to use it, participants sit on the ground around a sacred pit.

It's intended as a religious ceremony, and participants are invited to concentrate on the spirits brought in with the grandfathers, which are the rocks that represent ancestral spirits.

To perform the ceremony, stones are heated in the fire by the fire keeper and medicinal cedar water is poured over the grandfathers at the centre of the sacred healing pit.

Elder Little Brown Bear, Manager of Aboriginal Culture at MGH, led the construction of the Sweat Lodge with the help of community members of The Aboriginal Healing Program.

He told CTV News that they hope to hold the first ceremony at the end of August, and sweats will continue regularly, depending on demand.

"The Bear’s Den All Nations Traditional Medicine Sweat Lodge is open to everyone and provides a safe, sacred place of healing, a spiritual reunion with the creator and respectful connection to the earth," a press release states. 

At the opening event, two members of the Arkells were honoured with special medicine pouches and an eagle feather for offering their speech time to Aboriginal singer-songwriter Jeremy Dutcher at this year’s JUNO awards.

"This event marks an important milestone in our journey toward truth and reconciliation," a MGH Instagram post states

Lead photo by

jamessheps


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