JUNE 24, 2002
Aboriginal ceremonies held to save sacred site
Aboriginal ceremonies were held over the weekend near the Spirit Rock to pray for its protection from logging. The Ontario government has approved logging in the old-growth forest within the sacred grounds of the site for this fall.
The ancient sacred site north of Obabika Lake has been used by native worshippers for thousands of years, but has attracted growing numbers of Native Canadians in the last several years, who are returning to their religious roots and traditions.
Elder Larry McLeod of Nipissing First Nation led ceremonies timed to the changing of the seasons from spring to summer, including the Sunrise, Water and Healing Circle ceremonies.
McLeod says his own ancestors from Nipissing, a neighbouring First Nation, came here to dream, pray and fast. "We still have this place, as the Creator left it, to be kept intact for future generations."
The event was hosted by Alex Mathias who is traditional head of the Misabi land where the Spirit Rock stands. The unusual obelisk-like formation is said to be the last undisturbed Ojibway spiritual site in an old-growth forest. Logging will come within 650 metres of the Spirit Rock, called Chee-skon-abikong in Ojibway.
He has been fighting the logging, but his appeals have been ignored by the Ontario government. Mathias is asking the public for help in appealing to Premier Ernie Eves to stop the logging, which Mathias calls "religious persecution."
Help Save the Sacred Site
Write to Premier Ernie Eves and tell him to stop the religious persecution and prohibit logging west of Sharp Rock in Temagami.
Premier Ernie Eves
If sending email, include your surface mail address.
A typical fasting marker found in the area near the Spirit Rock. The markers are the personal colours of a faster and are left behind at site where a faster has been alone for four days.
Photo: Bill Buchan
Elder Larry McLeod prepares cedar, sage, sweet grass and tobacco for ceremony. Left to right: Larry McLeod, Bernadette Cote, Little Bear McLeod.
Photo: Brian Back
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