Indigenous Health Coordinator Doug Longmore, right, helps serve bannock Sept. 29, at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury. (File photo)

Indigenous Health Coordinator Doug Longmore, right, helps serve bannock Sept. 29, at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury. (File photo)

UPDATE: Ponoka’s Centennial Centre holds event for TRC

Indigenous Health Coordinator Doug Longmore explains more about ceremony

Note: This story has been updated to include information from Indigenous Health Coordinator Doug Longmore.

The Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury (CCMHBI) held an event on Sept. 29 for their staff and patients in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Sept. 30.

Indigenous Health Coordinator Doug Longmore said it’s the first time such an event was held at CCMHBI.

“It’s a pretty exciting time,” said Longmore.

A pipe ceremony was held inside a teepee set up on the grounds. Bannock and tea were served.

According to Longmore, the Centennial Centre brought in the teepee to help with cultural activities at the centre as well as for Orange Shirt Day. The pipe ceremony was held to give thanks for the land and to start building trust between the Indigenous residents and staff.

“A part of the ceremony was to recognize and sorrow for what happened in residential schools.”

He added holding a pipe ceremony restores peace, pride and unity with Indigenous people.

Longmore credited the support and guidance of the centre’s directors and the work of the team of recreational therapists for putting on the event and members from Maskwacis for helping to set up the teepee.

A number of initiatives have been underway at CCMHBI to help Indigenous patients feel more comfortable in order to open communication, including the addition of Indigenous art in the hallways at the centre, said Longmore.

He said there’s “nothing better” than when a patient walks down the hall and sees aspects of their culture evident there.

“When they see it’s a safe place to talk, the doctors will have a much clearer picture of what they’re there for,” said Longmore.

The Centennial Centre is also working on building a sweat lodge on the grounds in the future.

Sweat lodges are about finding your identity and wellness, said Longmore.

“It’s about determining who they are … it’s sacred, religious ceremonies, a cure for illness, aching muscles. This is who we are.”

Longmore said he talks to patients about how traditional Indigenous medicines and western medicines should be used together to help them get well and part of his work is bridging that gap.

He said the staff at CCMHBI should become more involved in Indigenous culture because, “We are all Treaty people in Canada.”

The centre’s next Indigenous-related cultural day will be Indigenous War Veterans Day on Nov. 8.

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