Hamilton

Six Nations elder tells police at sunrise ceremony 'we are human beings also'

On Thursday, members of Hamilton's police service gathered for an Aboriginal sunrise ceremony.

Police celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day at the east end station Thursday morning

On Thursday members of Hamilton's police service gathered for an Aboriginal sunrise ceremony at the east end station. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Elder Allan Loft led an aboriginal sunrise ceremony Thursday morning for members of the Hamilton Police Service because he wanted to let them know about his culture. 

Loft says it was important to have the ceremony with police because since the beginning of contact, there has been a "distrust of our people with any kind of government authority."

"This is a way to let the police services know of our culture, to be aware that we all have the same heart, that don't treat us any different than the other citizens," said Loft. "We are human beings also."

The ceremony was held to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day. 

Police walked through the eastern entrance of the circle that they would sit and stand around for the ceremony. 

It was the eastern door because that's the direction the sun rises from and the ceremony was fittingly held on the lawn of the east end police station.

The drum that police gathered around represents the heart — and how everyone has the same heartbeat.  

"Welcome home, back to the heart," Loft, of Six Nations, said as he led the hour-long ceremony.

"We all have the same heart and that's what makes it all work, that we all have the same heart."

Loft says he's a carrier of some of the knowledge of the people.

This is a way to let the police services know of our culture- Elder Allan Loft of Six Nations 

He spoke about and honoured things like water and trees — all of the creations that help human beings live. Loft says without them human beings couldn't come to mother earth.

"They say if we don't continue with these ceremonies, the way they were given to us by our ancestors, that those things will go away and what will be left for our children's children?"

"We've been told by the creator and from our ancestors that we should give thanks to all of the creations and to our creator for everything that he's given us to live with," said Loft.

'The message is about peace'

Police chief Eric Girt says that there are lots of reasons why he thinks the service should celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.
At the end of the sunrise ceremony Hamilton police chief Eric Girt and deputy chief Frank Bergen speak with Elder Allan Loft. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

"As you saw Al Loft who was our speaker today, Tom our firekeeper, we have a long relationship with both men and they represent the community and you heard the words of Al, we're all part of one community, so this acknowledgement and affirmation, extremely important, and we work in partnership on a continuing basis. It's very important," said Girt.

Although Girt says he's been to a number of ceremonies, he says there's always something to learn.

"As he's speaking and you reflect on what his words are and what the content is, there's always something to learn," said Girt.

The chief says the message is about peace because police are peace keepers.

"The creator's plan is for peace, not war, and you heard that from Al," said Girt.

"In our peacekeeper role, it's one role within society, but it's an important one and certainly an important one in terms of the larger scheme."
Elder Allan Loft says fire represents God’s unconditional love for everything and everyone in the creation. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

A firekeeper kept watch of the fire going at the door of the circle.

"The fire represents God's unconditional love for everything and everyone in the creation," said Loft.

As the ceremony came to an end, Loft told police, "Safe journey. Walk well."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now