Roy, the principal of the middle school, left our teacher’s unit a moment ago. I’ve just wiped the tears from my cheeks. This has been one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. And we’ve been invited to attend a sweat ceremony the next evening.
Roy’s there to prepare us for the ritual. A little sage, some sweet grass, a feather, a rock, a piece of red fabric – fire, wind, water and human nature. In a circle, Melaina, Jody, Alessia, Bruno and I listen to his story, his words, his poetry. “I went to residential school when I was young (…) As a punishment for speaking my language, they used to put us into a very dark room, all alone (…) They didn’t know how happy I was to be there because that was where I was free to speak my language.” We laugh, not out of joy, but out of pain and disbelief.
Roy also tells us about the importance of rocks. “Rocks are keepers of stories. You break them to build roads, but we believe that they hold great secrets.” He talks to us about love. “Love is a mystery. Think about it: when you walk into the woods and you look at trees, you find them beautiful. As soon as I tell you that one of them is a pine tree, your relationship with it automatically changes. You’ll find a reference, a position, an idea of what you know about pine trees. When it comes to love, make sure you keep some mystery in it, something you don’t understand, so you still find it beautiful.”
Roy honoured our presence in his community. But we were at a loss for words to express our own sense of honour. Maybe this is our little “mystery”!