The City of Saint John invites community members to honour National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 by attending several events in the city including a special drum gathering, a dual flag raising event and a sacred fire ceremony.
To begin the day, a sacred fire will be lit at Tucker Park Beach, across from The Brothers reservation, at sunrise. Wolastoqey Elder Chris Brooks will be the Firekeeper and will begin the traditional lighting of the fire at 5:30 a.m. followed by a water ceremony. Community members are encouraged to attend at sunrise but are welcome to visit throughout the day. Elder Brooks will be on site until 3:00 p.m. to greet visitors, provide his insights and answer questions about the traditional ceremony.
The public will then have an opportunity to join a drum gathering and procession beginning at 11:30 a.m. in King’s Square. Attendees will parade on foot alongside a drum procession to City Hall, leading to a double flag raising ceremony at 12:00 p.m. Both the Wolastoqey and the Mi’kmaq Grand Council flags will be raised with remarks from Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon.
The sacred fire is an Indigenous traditional wellness approach, considered to be a doorway that opens to a spiritual realm where people can communicate and connect with their ancestors. Sacred items such as tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass can be placed in the fire along with food as an offering. Elder Brooks will help lead people through this process and tobacco will be available for community members who would like to participate.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own drum, if they have one, to any of the National Indigenous Peoples Day events and are asked to be respectful and open-minded to nurture a positive space for everyone involved.
For more information about sacred fires including their history, the role of a Firekeeper, the purpose of a sacred fire and protocols see the document below:
This information has been provided by Elder Brooks. and City of Saint John