A Mi'kmaw writer, poet and member of Lennox Island First Nation was able to lead a public gathering in downtown Charlottetown on Saturday for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic.
Julie Pellissier-Lush led a gathering called a Mawi'omi. It features Indigenous drumming, dancing and storytelling.
Pellissier-Lush says Mi'kmaq on P.E.I. think of wellness in four components: mind, body, spirit and inner self.
"This is a way we keep ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually balanced," she said.
She said it has been a difficult time.
"Through COVID it has been extremely hard with not being able to gather, not being able to share our knowledge, our passion."
Saturday's event was a component of The Island Tides Yoga and Wellness Festival. Discover Charlottetown connected with fitness trainers, yoga studios and organizations to offer various events Saturday and Sunday.
The event was presented by L'nuey, the Mi'kmaq rights initiative for Prince Edward Island,
"It's important to share our Mi'kmaw culture with all Islanders," said Jenene Wooldridge, executive director of the organization.
More than 50 people gathered in the green space outside Founders' Food Hall and Market to learn more about Indigenous culture and wellness.
"When you get to perform and share at an event like this and you see all the faces out there that are listening to the truths I shared," Pellissier-Lush said. "You could see the pain, the hurt, they are learning our true history of Canada."
Pellissier-Lush shared a poem after the remains of an estimated 215 children were found in late May on the grounds of the former Kamloops residential school.
Since then 1,000 unmarked graves have been discovered across the nation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has estimated there are more than 3,000.
"It's heartbreaking when I think of the survivors that are almost retraumatized by all of this," she said.
"At the same time we can use it toward healing as well. We can use it to make sure they know their truths are being heard."
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