Sahtu elders asking communities to hold fire feeding ceremony on New Year's Day

·2 min read

After a challenging year, elders in the Sahtu are asking communities across Denendeh to start the year off with healing in mind.

Deline will be holding a fire feeding ceremony at the house of the late Dene prophet Ahya on Jan. 1 at 2 p.m., and elders are asking other communities to do the same thing at the same time.

A fire feeding ceremony is a ceremony for all season in which the Dene honour the air, land, water and everything the Creator provides.

Paulina Roche, the CEO of the Deline Got'ine government, has been instrumental in organizing the fire feeding ceremony.

'People want to come together and do their prayers'

She said if every community participates and comes together as one nation, she said, the power of the prayer will be at its strongest.

Support for the ceremony has been "overwhelming," said Roche.

"People want to come together and do their prayers. Each community has their own issues ... and they want to come together to help."

Recently, there were two tragic fires in the N.W.T. Both Fort Providence and Behchoko are reeling in the aftermath of loss. She said they will be praying for the families who were impacted.

'We need to take care of our elders'

She said they will also be praying to keep elders and spiritual leaders safe.

"We need to take care of our elders. Our elders are the ones that have put us here today," Roche said.

Over the past year, the pandemic has limited the ways in which Indigenous people can gather to practice important cultural and spiritual traditions.

She said that elders have told her that they hope to come together soon again, and safely host drum dances and hand games.

Despite how 2020 has been a year of disruptions, new normals and loss, Roche says she looks onto the new year and sees light.

With a vaccine in sight, she hopes 2021 will bring more positive outcomes, like being able to gather in town halls and hear the beat of hand drums.

"We really want that," Roche said.