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Nova Scotia Health cancer screening team, partners, government representatives and patient family advisors participate in smudging ceremony before the Blanket Exercise

Photo courtesy of Natasha Moore, Indigevisor

On September 29, members of Nova Scotia Health’s cancer screening team, their partners, government representatives and patient family advisors gathered for an afternoon of learning about Mi’kmaw history and culture.

The afternoon began with a smudging ceremony, led by Elder Geri Musqua-LeBlanc, who explained that four sacred medicines are used during smudging: Sage, cedar, sweet grass, and tobacco. The spiritual ceremony is designed to cleanse participants and the space of any negative thoughts. All who were interested were invited to participate in the smudging ceremony.

This was followed by the Blanket Exercise, a learning opportunity to build an understanding of Mi’kmaw history. The blanket exercise was facilitated by the Indigevisor team Nadine Bernard, and Natasha Moore and supported by elder Geri. They shared personal stories of their lived experience which made the learning powerful and deeply impactful.

One participant commented, “Experiencing the Blanket Exercise was eye opening. It brought facts and real-life stories together that supported learning in a way that reading about the First Nations experience with colonialism alone cannot. Being taught in person by First Nations people - and being welcomed into their space as settlers for this purpose also helps to break down walls.”

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