Working through a healing process that is effective for them, a large gathering will take place at Muskoday First Nation this weekend, fittingly under a healing moon.
The gathering, named the All Nations Healing Moon Gathering, is intended to help facilitate the healing process for the family and friends of First Nations people who have gone missing or been murdered.
“Our First Nations communities have a lot of grief,” Angie Bear said.
“There’s so much grieving and loss in our First Nations communities that we need to help ourselves overcome that loss.”
Bear serves as president of the Healing Families of Murdered and Missing Peoples Committee — a group that’s been working toward this weekend’s gathering for about a year.
The eclectic group of committee members bring various backgrounds with them, uniting under the common goal of creating an annual event, which this weekend will kickstart.
The committee’s vice president Sandra Lachance can name three family members who have gone missing or turned up murdered.
The body of Jean Marie Lachance was founded in a field south of the Victoria Hospital on Sept. 15, 1991; Leo Lachance was shot to death on Jan. 28, 1991; Samuel Lachance is missing, last seen on July 29, 1987.
“These are things that happen and we’re affected by them,” Sandra Lachance said. “We remember, every day. There’s always someone that is not there, and we’re hugely affected.
“We need to find ways to help each other and to help young people who are affected by the loss of their mother or their father … There’s that huge sense of loss that they’re left with.”
This, she explained, is why this weekend’s inaugural event is so important.
“It’s our way of helping the family members who have been affected by loss,” she said.
“Anybody can come, who feels that they can bring their gift to the gathering is welcome to attend. We all need to come together — that’s how it was traditionally done.”
“This first gathering that we’re going to be doing will bring together all of the people that have lost loved ones — either that have gone missing or found murdered — together with the elders,” Bear said.
There’s so much grieving and loss in our First Nations communities that we need to help ourselves overcome that loss. - Angie Bear
The event will begin on Thursday night, when visitors are allowed to begin setting up tents at the Veterans Memorial Park in Muskoday.
The healing moon — the second full moon in one month — will take place that night, peaking at about 9 a.m. on Friday.
This is a rare occurrence that Lachance hopes will help facilitate the healing process this weekend. The next healing moon will happen in July, 2015.
On Friday, breakfast will be served at 7 a.m. A pipe ceremony will take place at 8 a.m., followed by a flag raising, opening prayer and presentations by various dignitaries.
Saturday’s schedule will mirror Friday’s.
These times are tentative, Lachance said, with the two-day event an informal gathering of like-minded people working toward a better future.
“It’s going to be a really traditional gathering, where people can just go about and share and visit, socialize, network and support one another,” Lachance said.
Committee members will also be there to take in any feedback people have to share, ensuring next year’s gathering is better catered to the needs of participants.
“We want to provide an opportunity for people to say, ‘this is what I need to help me heal,’ and we need the elders to guide us and help,” Bear said.
Next year’s event will bring forth these recommendations, creating an annual healing ceremony tailored to the needs of local area First Nations people and others affected by murdered or missing First Nations people.
Although this model has yet to be formed, Bear is confident that it will bring forth traditional ways.
“If we go back to some of the ceremonies to help in that healing, our family members can get on with living and stop hanging on.”