PICTOU LANDING – The full moon has provided an opportunity to cleanse the polluted waters around Boat Harbour.
A number of women from Pictou Landing First Nation gathered on Monday to perform a water ceremony.
“It’s a cleansing of the spirit and rejuvenation with the full moon,” explains Tonya Francis, who organized the ceremony. “I bond with the water a lot and when I’m around her (water) and she’s sick, it’s difficult, very emotional.”
The ceremony is performed by women with men guarding a sacred fire.
Michelle Francis-Denny is the community liaison for the Boat Harbour remediation project. She says the upcoming project provided an opportunity to conduct a cleansing prior to the work beginning.
“We felt this was an opportunity to spiritually reconnect with the water, the land, the positive guidance and the energy around it.”
The request for proposals for the beginning stages of the remediation project have gone out.
“It was important the province allowed us the time for this ceremony and respected our traditions… It’s a way to kick off the project on a positive note. (Boat Harbour) signifies so many years of negative energy, to actually see things happening (at Boat Harbour), we want to offer prayer that this project finishes.”
In performing the water ceremony, Francis says the hope is for the ancestors to lead the way for healing of the waters.
“It is hope that the ancestors will put people in our path to help us along so the water will be clean, back to the way it used to be.”
The ceremony is conducted only on a full moon or a new moon and lasts all day. It begins at 6 a.m. with the lighting of the sacred fire and continues throughout the day with sacrifices being made to the water.
The sacrifices include berries, tobacco, clean water, fish and rice.
They also create a tie with the colours of the rainbow that is hung in a tree near the water and remains there for a year.
“The tie represents our prayers,” explains Francis. “We put our heart and soul in the ties and when we hang them, we are hanging our hopes out to be found.”
When providing the sacrifice, the women stand on the water’s edge and call the water to them with their prayer while wearing long skirts which represent Mother Earth.
“Mother Earth is a circle, there is no ending and by wearing a skirt we are respecting that because the bottom of the skirt is like a circle.”
To take part in the ceremony, participants must have a good heart and be sober in mind and spirit.
“The goal is to clean and protect our water,” says Franics.
Her first water ceremony was two years ago, when she felt called to perform the ceremony, with assistance from an elder at Indian Cross Point. Now she does them regularly.
“With the pollution here, our culture is lost. We don’t have that connection to the land. It’s not the same as it used to be.”
The ceremony took place on Lighthouse Beach in Pictou Landing.
From the left: Michelle Francis-Denny, Tonya Francis and Lucy Francis were among the women in Pictou Landing who took part in a water ceremony on Monday. (Harvie photo)