The Lakehead University Sweat Lodge Site is a spiritual place where people come together for ceremonies that promote personal and collective healing. The sweat lodge is housed and sweat lodge ceremonies are held on this site.
“The sweat lodge ceremony has been around Ojibwe people for a long time. The sweat lodge is called madoodiswan, a place of nurturing ceremony. It is very evident that people in this area always conducted these ceremonies for doctoring and exercising their spiritual health and it is all connected to many other Anishnaabe ceremonies. We do not discriminate and everyone is welcome to participate in the ceremony but, at the same time, participants must respect the teachings of the sweat lodge”. (Elder Gene Nowegejick)
The dome-shaped frame of the sweat lodge is made of local saplings. In the past, the frame would have been covered with hide. Today, canvas, tarps, or blankets are used. The covering keeps the light out and the heat in. Inside the lodge, participants sit in a circle around the centre pit. A fire keeper brings the grandfathers and grandmothers (rocks) into the lodge. They are placed in the pit at the centre of the lodge.
Links to more information on cultural teaching of the sweat lodge, e.g. http://www.manygoodteachings.com/sweatlodge-understanding.html
The current sweat lodge site at Lakehead University began development in 2007. The first sweat lodge ceremony on this new site was held in September 2008 and was conducted by Elder Ernie Kwandibens. The sweat lodge is currently under the care of Elder Gene Nowegejick.
Indigenous Student Services Centre (ISSC) of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives hosts monthly sweat lodge ceremonies. It is important to note that women should wear long skirts and a t-shirt. Men should wear shorts. Be sure to bring a towel. Participants are encouraged to bring the Elder a tobacco offering which is available at ISSC (UC 1007). Women who are on their moon time must not participate in the sweat lodge ceremony or handle ceremonial items. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
A beautiful painting on the c-can storage unit, located at the sweat lodge site, was painted by Elliot Doxtater-Wynn in August 2011. A graduate of the H.B. Beal Art School in London, Ontario, Doxtater-Wynn continued his arts education upon moving north from his home at Six Nations of the Grand River. He holds Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees from Lakehead University.
Although it is known that many plants contain healing properties, our medicine garden is only for educational purposes. The plants in it are not meant to be used for medicinal purposes without the supervision of a medical doctor.
The new Lakehead University garden called Gitigaan in Ojibwe is a gathering space for people to share and learn about the significance of traditional medicines and to create an awareness of traditional knowledge. It promotes Indigenous presence and community involvement on campus. The garden’s development, in the fashion of a medicine wheel, demonstrates a balanced approach to planting and growing traditional plants and is also a space for individual reflection and quiet meditation.
Gitigaan was built in the form of a medicine wheel. The medicine wheel is a part of our journey through life. It represents the sacred directions and the stages of life. It can also represent the four aspects of our being: spiritual, physical, mental and emotional and guides us in living a balanced life. There are many teachings on the medicine wheel and different interpretations on what it represents. Its significance, meanings, and teachings can be different from one person to the next or from nation to nation.
The original garden was planted in June 2010 and contained box planters located in each of the four directions: north (cedar), south (sweet grass), east (tobacco), west (sage).
The new Lakehead University Gitigaan was built and planted in June 2017, following a ceremony conducted by Elder Ma-nee Chacaby. Keith Fenton, a student in the Native Access Program, volunteered his skills as a stone mason and worked with a group of volunteers.
Guidance for planting from: Kavasch, E. Barrie. 2002. The Medicine Wheel Garden: Creating Sacred Space for Healing, Celebration and Tranquility. New York: Bantam Books.
Although it is known that many plants contain healing properties, our medicine garden is only for educational purposes only. The plants in it are not meant to be used for medicinal purposes without the supervision of a medical doctor.
For a complete listing of plants in the garden, please stop by ISS in UC1007 or email email@example.com