Thompson Rivers University is providing a $20,000 grant and a parcel of land to support an aboriginal student's plan for a sweat lodge on campus.
A sweat lodge is a place of prayer and purification in many North American indigenous cultures. Sweat ceremonies are held within the building, made of natural materials, where participants are "purified with breathing, meditating and in the sharing of words, prayers, songs and storytelling," according to BCIT, another school with its own sweat lodge.
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"I was actually participating in a sweat lodge on the reserve, and one of the elders mentioned to me that they have churches and mosques and temples of all sorts in town, but there's no place for First Nations to practise our spirituality," Jordan Robinson, the fourth-year student of ecology and environmental biology behind the project told Radio West host Rebecca Zandbergen.
Robinson says the process of getting approval for the lodge took more than a year. In addition to working with the school, he sought input from elders of the Tk'Emulups Indian Band.
He says those elders will help build the lodge and will also help guide people who wish to take part in a sweat ceremony.
Robinson, originally from the Cold Lake First Nation, grew up in foster care and felt disconnected from his culture growing up. He says he hopes the sweat lodge will help other aboriginal students feel more connected.
"A lot of the kids here don't even know their own culture, so, I thought, what better way to share our spirituality than to show them that they did come from a place they can be proud of?"
Robinson says the plan is to build the lodge on the day of the spring equinox, March 21 — which Robinson says is a time of rebirth and the traditional time for building a sweat lodge.
To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Sweat lodge coming to Thompson Rivers University after $20k donation