New sweat lodge at Shuswap Lake aims to draw tourists

On the shore of Little Shuswap Lake, east of Kamloops, the Little Shuswap Indian Band is rebuilding an old sweat lodge for both traditional purification purposes and as an opportunity to share the culture with tourists.

Sweat lodges are powerful tools for healing, says grand chief of the Little Shuswap Indian Band

Felix Arnouse, Grand Chief of the Little Shuswap Indian Band, standing where the new sweat lodge is being built. (Doug Herbert/CBC)

On the shore of Little Shuswap Lake, east of Kamloops, the Little Shuswap Indian Band is rebuilding an old sweat lodge for both traditional purification purposes and as an opportunity to share its culture with tourists.

Grand Chief Felix Arnouse described the powerful healing that happens in steamy huts.

"The sweat takes all the toxins out of your body," he told CBC's Doug Herbert. "They say there are a lot of ways to heal and in that lodge you can laugh, holler, cry and sweat is another way that all the negative energy leaves your body."

The lodge, to be built by the lake's edge of red cedar, will be surrounded by trees. It's being built with salvaged wood from a previous sweat lodge that once stood there.

Lava rocks, which hold temperature well, are heated in a fire and will be used to warm up the lodge.

Lava rocks will be used to heat up the hut. (Doug Herbert/CBC)

"You come to one sweat lodge and you'll never go in a sauna again because it's so different," Arnouse said. "In the sweat, you cleanse and purify your mind, body and spirit."

The sweat lodge is next to Little Shuswap Lake, near Kamloops. (Doug Herbert/CBC)

Adrian Lewis, from the Tsimshian Nation, works in the cultural department at the Quaaout Lodge, a nearby hotel.

He says the new sweat lodge will be an opportunity for tourists to learn about and experience purification practices.

"It will help people understand us more, see where the value is, the beliefs, and just our spirituality with Mother Earth," Lewis said. "Just to introduce that to tourism is something great for the people here."

The lodge is expected to be completed within the next month.

On the shore of Little Shuswap Lake, east of Kamloops, the Little Shuswap Indian Band is rebuilding an old sweat lodge for both traditional purification purposes and as an opportunity to share the culture with tourists. 6:59

With files from Doug Herbert and Daybreak Kamloops.