Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre sweat lodge site blessed

SIOUX LOOKOUT, ON — It was a chilly yet beautiful day on the morning of May 18, 2017. This was the morning that people gathered behind the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority’s (SLFNHA) Jeremiah McKay Kabayshewekamik hostel facility and Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) to bear witness to the blessing of the new sweat lodge site.

The ceremony opened with drumming and singing led by area Elder Ralph Johnson and local drummers Tom Chisel, Thomas Fiddler, Allan Walski, and Joe Wesley. The blessing ceremony was led by Tom Chisel and Ralph Johnson. Acknowledgments were made by SLMHC Acting CEO & President Heather Lee, SLFNHA CAO Marie Lands, Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrence, Darryl Quedent representing the Lac Seul First Nation and SLMHC Traditional Programs Advisor Ms. Theresa Fiddler.

Theresa told the crowd that it was a coincidence that the ceremony was being held on the birthday of her husband, the late Josias Fiddler. Josias was instrumental in the creation of SLMHC and the construction of the new hospital, which opened its doors in 2010. He had also dreamt of the day that there would be a sweat lodge available for the traditional care of patients at SLMHC. Theresa blessed the water used during the ceremony and she spoke of how important the water was to all life.

The sweat lodge site was made possible through the collaborative efforts of SLMHC, SLFNHA and the will and determination of the people.

“We are very grateful to have been able to work with SLFNHA and our Traditional Healing, Medicine, Food and Supports program in making this long-term dream into a reality,” said Acting President and CEO Heather Lee.

Lee continues, “This truly has been a great opportunity to work together in a meaningful way for the benefit of the people we serve.”

Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre provides health services to approximately 25,000 people living in 28 First Nations communities and the municipalities of Sioux Lookout & Hudson, Pickle Lake, and Savant Lake, which have a combined population of more than 7200.