A large crowd of North Islanders showed up at Highland Manor on Thursday afternoon for a special healing ceremony hosted by local First Nations. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)

A large crowd of North Islanders showed up at Highland Manor on Thursday afternoon for a special healing ceremony hosted by local First Nations. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)

Healing ceremony held at Highland Manor in Port Hardy

The ceremony was put together in answer to numerous overdose deaths and suicides recently in town

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.”


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Local First Nations went through Highland Manor with cedar branches while chanting to bless the building. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)

Local First Nations went through Highland Manor with cedar branches while chanting to bless the building. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)

Andrea Wilson (middle) organized the ceremony at Highland Manor. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)

Andrea Wilson (middle) organized the ceremony at Highland Manor. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)