First Nations Expedition: One Day Before Launch

Today, January 26, 2024. Tomorrow marks the big start of our 3200 km journey. We will head towards our first stop which is Essipit.

At 6:30 this morning, the Sacred Fire was lit and a ceremony of purification and protection for the participants took place. The women adorned themselves in their traditional skirts (“unukop” in Innu, “akop” in Atikamekw). We formed a circle around the fire. Sage was burned, and the spiritual guide stopped in front of each of us so that we could take in the smoke and apply it to specific areas (head, ears, eyes, mouth, heart, and stomach). We were then treated to songs accompanied by drums, recounting stories and paying tribute to the departed. It moved all of us deeply.

 

After the ceremony, I presented one of my offerings to the guide as a token of appreciation. I had prepared them carefully while having positive thoughts. These small pouches wrapped in red cloth contain pipe tobacco and will serve me throughout the journey. Pipe tobacco is highly appreciated by elders, guides, and fire-keepers, as they use it in the Peace Pipe. This offering demonstrates my deep recognition and respect for their status.

Initially, these offerings were intended to request permission to take photos of the sacred fire and during ceremonies since it is usually not allowed. We’ll see if it works in the future.

Registration for everyone has been completed, and the final preparations for the snowmobiles have been carried out.

Tonight, we are invited to a community dinner in a gigantic igloo. It truly is larger in person than in the photos.

Have a good evening, and see you tomorrow for the report on our first day of snowmobiling.

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