This past week I’ve been keeping in close contact with Culturally Committed Mentor, George Harris Jr. of Stz’uminus First Nation. George has been visiting the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh, colonially known as Prince George. His trip to the north has been a difficult one, as the purpose has been to visit a close family member who is very ill. George has expressed to me that although the visit has been a heavy one, an unexpected cultural encounter provided reprieve for his soul and restored his spirit, if only for a short time. George shares:
“On Monday as I was leaving the hospital in PG, I was surprised to suddenly encounter the sounds of singing and drumming. I then recalled my sister-in-law, who works in the local ER, mentioning that the local Tribe gathers every Monday at one of the side entrances to share songs. I’m told that they do this to help uplift the spirits of the local First Nations people in the hospital; however, what I witnessed was a lot of non-First Nations people gathering to witness what was taking place. As I looked up, I saw a sign in one of the patient’s windows that said, "thank you drummers". I also noticed a patient sitting on their windowsill looking down and watching everyone sing and drum.
George goes on to share, “as I watched, the drummers started to sing a song I was familiar with, and so I joined in. It got me thinking about the spiritual healing these people are bringing, not only to their own people in the hospital, but the healing that was happening for all the people witnessing the gathering. Culture is such a beautiful, healing thing when people are willing to receive it with an open heart and an open mind.”
George’s words reminded me that healing and medicine can take many forms, and that Western medicine would greatly benefit from the integration of Traditional healing practices. I’m so grateful that George was able to witness the singers and drummers during a moment that he truly needed uplifting. Cultural healing reconnects people to the vibrancy and strengths of their culture and in doing so, enhances health and wellness for all who are open to receiving that good medicine.
Kim at Culturally Committed