There was a healing ceremony Thursday afternoon outside of Highland Manor in Port Hardy.
The ceremony was put together in answer to numerous overdose deaths and suicides that have happened in town as of late, and it featured speeches, prayers, traditional songs and dances, First Nation members going through the apartment building with cedar branches while chanting to bless the area, and smudging (smoke created from burning medicinal or sacred plants) for those who wanted to be cleansed.
The ceremony was organized by Kwakiutl First Nation member Andrea Wilson, who said she put it together because she herself has come back from a place of addiction.
“I know there’s a lot of loss out there and we are losing people left right and center. As First Nations people, we are very strong and we need to give each other a boost and bring everybody together.”
Wilson said she wanted to hold the ceremony at this specific apartment building because “it’s the core of our Port Hardy problem, I know it is, I’ve been here.”
As for how she put the ceremony together, she said she had been thinking about doing it for some time, “and I just decided a date after my cousin Chris passed away from an overdose.”
Above all else, Wilson said she wants the local communities to “Just keep loving each other, educate yourself on the stigma and the judgment, and how it affects your families.”