The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is asking all Saskatchewan people to come together on Monday January 18th to acknowledge and remember those we have lost to COVID-19, think of those who are battling it, recognize the efforts of our front line workers, and to give thanks for the vaccine being distributed across the province. The initiative is being led by First Nations and Métis Health and is a provincial effort for all people of Saskatchewan to pray in Unity as we continue our journey to reduce the impact of the global pandemic on our residents.
We are asking people wherever they are to stop for a few moments of reflection between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. on Monday to pause and reflect. It can be done wherever you are at that time whether it's at work, at home, at school, outside exercising, or in your own personal space.
While the initiative is being led by First Nations and Métis Health, people from all cultural backgrounds, religions and beliefs are asked to join this moment of reflection as we move forward in our battle against COVID-19. Thona Longneck, the Executive Director of First Nations and Métis Health, shared words of guidance from their Traditional Knowledge Keepers Advisory Council. “We need to respect this virus as an enemy, in the same way that our ancestors respected their enemies. This means we take our fear of the virus and turn it into a courageous, organized front, drawing on all our resources and traditional healing ways, including traditional medicines." She adds, we may not be able to gather together in large groups for this ceremony, but we still have the ability to come together and raise our voices as one.
To follow COVID-19 safety protocols, Ceremony Keepers will not be entering any facilities. Four Pipe Ceremonies will be conducted simultaneously in the personal homes of each Ceremonial Keeper in various parts of the province. This is not a virtual event as videoing a sacred ceremony is not allowed, but it is an opportunity for people to personally join a province-wide Unity prayer to raise their collective voices to help navigate our way through these difficult days.
SHA CEO Scott Livingstone reminds the public as they reflect that “we are so fortunate that we are now able to distribute a vaccine that has been recognized as safe and effective by health leaders across the globe, but we need to remember that as we distribute the vaccine across the province, we must remain vigilant and adhere to the public health orders and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19."