Secwépemc hereditary family builds ceremony house for healing

It will be a safe space for “winter dance, ceremonies, and sweat lodges, a place for people to land in,” says Secwépemc Matriarch Miranda Dick.

After celebrating ‘No thanks, no giving’ together over the weekend, Miranda Dick and her family broke ground on a new ceremony house for Indigenous Peoples.

Using grassroots resources and without help from colonial entities, Dick says she aims to create a safe place for “winter dance, ceremonies, and sweat lodges, a place for people to land in.”

It’s about “recognizing what the needs are in community and nations,” especially with respect to residential school survivors and their children, says the Secwépemc Hereditary Matriarch. 

“It’s all about what the people want,” she says. “We want healing lodges, we want our language.”

The new ceremony house will be located at Dick’s family residence in the Neskonlith Indian Band community, on unceded Secwépemc territory, just outside of Chase, B.C. 

“The ceremony house was my dad’s vision,” Dick says.

“We’re always going to syilx territory or to the sinixt territory to sing, so my dad was saying we needed to have a ceremony house for winter dance.”

Miranda Dick says her family’s Sundance drum will be going into the new ceremony house along with other xaxa (very sacred) family items. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna

She says her father, Secwépemc Hereditary Chief Saw-ses, came up with the idea for the ceremony house after a trip to Vancouver in 2019.

They’d gone there to participate in a rally and attend to their hereditary responsibilities, and they returned home feeling “very cold and defeated,” Dick says. 

“We needed a place to go back to to just come and regroup.”

The lodge is also inspired by her late grandfather, Secwépemc Elder William Jones “Wolverine” Ignace, who fed frontline land defenders from his garden. Dick says Wolverine taught her about the importance of “protection before action.” 

“Everything is revolved around ceremony and that’s something Grandpa was saying with ‘protection before action,’” she says. 

Miranda Dick, Secwépemc Matriarch, walks by the logs the family selected and harvested for the ceremony lodge. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna

Dick says her family aims to complete the project as soon as possible, as funds and labour resources become available. They are inviting people to make a contribution to help cover the costs of creating ​​this healing space through this gofundme page.

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