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York Landing celebrates first Sundance Ceremony in 150 years

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Pictured above: (Left) Participants waiting outside the sweat lodge on the eve of the ceremony. Community members of York Landing holding prayer poles.

Over the course of four days, residents of York Landing, MB, came together to celebrate the Sundance – one of the most significant cultural ceremonies to Indigenous cultures across North America.

While attendance numbers varied between each of the ceremony days, August 5 marked the first day of processions, with community members in the dozens participating in the Sweat-lodge ceremony.

The Sweat-lodge ceremony is an important prerequisite to the Sundance that allows each participant to focus on communicating their needs through prayer, and sets them in the proper mindset to celebrate the Sundance to its fullest. Every component of the Sweat-lodge ceremony is rigorously followed according to tradition, where even the shape of the lodge’s fire pit, the nautical direction the lodge is facing, and the kinds of rocks being used in the fire pit all hold symbolic meaning.

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Pictured above: (Left) The Earth Lodge with an orange fabric. Families camped out nearby, supporting the dancers off-screen.

Following the evening of the Sweat-lodge ceremony, the Sundance began in earnest, where the most dedicated and faithful of York Landing’s residents carried the responsibility of dancing for three straight days in the Earth Lodge to pray for well-being and healing in their community. Nearly 100 participants came together to join the processions, with 11 taking part in the actual ceremony. During those three days, these participants did not eat, drink, or communicate with anyone – though their families were nearby, just outside the lodge, supporting them in spirit.

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Pictured above: (Left) Community members help women to build a Moon Lodge. Participating children wearing traditional outfits with orange motifs.

Other members of the community offered prayers in their own way, with sites all around the vicinity to encourage thoughtful supplications and genuflection. Some community members tied their prayers to the children that were found buried at the residential school in Kamloops, taking on an orange motif in their outfits. The Earth Lodge itself features an orange fabric – a modern adaptation to the traditional design that remembers the children in a similar way.

York Landing Northern was proud to support the activities by providing groceries and supplies worth $3,000 for the duration of the Sundance.

“We’re happy to be a part of these celebrations. Keeping the culture and traditions alive is of vital importance for everyone in the community,” says Dave Dyment, York Landing Northern Store Manager. “If it means being able to help the people around us, we’re committed to chipping in whenever possible.”