People whose loved ones have gone missing are gathering for hope and healing under a full moon this week at Muskoday First Nation.
© Herald photo by Kevin Hampson.
Angie Bear and Tom Charles at the All Nations Healing Moon Gathering at Muskoday First Nation.
The All Nations Healing Moon Gathering, now in its second year, aims to help heal the families of missing and murdered people. The gathering started Sunday and will end on Wednesday.
There are 95 cases in Saskatchewan of people who have been missing long-term, said Angie Bear, who organized the gathering.
Although it is an issue that disproportionately affects Aboriginals, the gathering is for everyone who has had a loved one go missing.
“We want everyone to feel welcome,” she said.
The circumstances around which people go missing vary, from adolescents who run away, to adults who leave and are never heard from again, to people who get lost while hunting in the outdoors.
“There are a lot of transient people who move from the seclusion of a Frist Nation to a city and aren’t able to adjust to that world,” Bear added.
The gathering is a chance for families to heal their wounds.
“People need to find a way to deal with their loss,” Bear said. “They need something to help them get on with their lives.”
A way to do that is to draw upon some of the cultural resources in aboriginal lore, Bear said.
“A long time ago, if we were at war with one another, we had ceremonies we would do to help people who’d lost a loved one, to help (the deceased) person move on to the spirit world.”
The ceremonies helped family members let go, knowing their loved ones were going to a good place, Bear said.
A ceremony like that won’t be happening this year, but plenty of tradition is on the schedule, including pipe ceremonies and craft demonstrations.
Tom Charles, a trapper from La Ronge, is one of the guest speakers. The woodsman has used his hunting skills to search for about 200 missing people since 1975.
Charles is driven by a loss of his own.
“I lost my aunt off the railway bridge years ago,” he said. “And I was too young to do anything about it.”
Charles hopes that people will show up who might have information about missing people.
“Part of it is kind of info gathering,” Charles said.
Charles said he has helped to find three people so far this year and he is still searching for two.