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‘It is so needed’: Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society opens new sweat lodge in Edmonton

After six years in development, the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society is celebrating the opening of its sweat lodge and ceremonial building.

“We had a dream of being able to offer urban Indigenous folks the opportunity to attend ceremony in the city proper,” said Cheryl Whiskeyjack, the society’s executive director.

Whiskeyjack said people often have to leave the city to take part in ceremony.

“We have a city where you can’t go very far without seeing a temple, a mosque, a church or other kinds of gathering space,” she said.

“For the Indigenous people of this land it’s really nice to be able to have an offering like this for them,” she added.

Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society celebrates grand opening of new sweat lodge and ceremonial building. (Galen McDougall/CTV News Edmonton)

Whiskeyjack said there are many urban Indigenous people who were born and raised in Edmonton without ties to a First Nation nearby.

“If there is a sweat in Maskwacis for example and they’re not from there and they don’t know anybody from there it feels a little bit like going to a stranger’s home to attend ceremony,” she said.

The society plans to offer ceremony at least once a week, and more if the community expresses a need.

Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society celebrates grand opening of new sweat lodge and ceremonial building. (Galen McDougall/CTV News Edmonton)

“There are now two opportunities in Edmonton for people to attend this ceremony. One is us, as of tomorrow, and the other is kihcihkaw askî which is a property close to Fort Edmonton Park where they also have another offering of people to attend ceremony there,” Whiskeyjack said.

She hopes this is the start of even more sweat lodges and ceremonial buildings built throughout the city.

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