UCDSB students learn about sweat lodges

Ojibway Elder Bernard Nelson, right, with wife Tammy discusses his first experience at a sweat lodge. The Nelsons explained the native ceremony to more than 500 Upper Canada District School Board students during a series of webcasts sponsored by the board's Aboriginal Education department. (Photo/UCDSB)

BROCKVILLE – The Upper Canada District School Board has introduced area students to the sacred native sweat lodge ceremony.

Twenty elementary and secondary schools across the region, including Cornwall, took part in a webcast recently to learn about the ceremony, which is designed to cleanse the body, mind and spirit.

Ojibway Elder Bernard Nelson and his wife, Tammy, spoke roughly 500 students about the experience which is likened to being reborn.

“When I first came out of the lodge, I was like a little boy again,” he said of the experience. “The air was sweeter. The grass was greener.”

“We all have emotional ups and downs,” added Tammy. “The ceremony gives us comfort because … it allows people to open up.”

The event was organized by the UCDSB Aboriginal Education department.

The UCDSB offers the ceremonies to students three times a month, one mixed session in Perth, and one sex-specific ceremony a month in the Cornwall area. Special ceremonies can be booked on request.

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