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Smudging ceremony held daily for evacuees

A drum thundered its way around a circle of people participating in a sacred smudging ceremony at CNC on Wednesday.
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CNC employee and Lheidli T’enneh elder Darlene McIntosh has been leading a sacred smudging ceremony each morning at the College of New Caledonia.

A drum thundered its way around a circle of people participating in a sacred smudging ceremony at CNC on Wednesday.

"The drum is the heartbeat of mother earth," said Darlene McIntosh, Lheidli T'enneh elder and culture advisor at the CNC Aboriginal Resource Centre.

The ceremony for McIntosh is a way to spread positive energy during a difficult time, which is why she decided to lead the smudging ceremonies at CNC every morning since last Friday.

"This is to help bring people together, to create a community as they are going through so much trauma and disconnection and for the First Nations people, we decided to do this to help support them," McIntosh said.

Prince George continues to welcome evacuees from the Cariboo wildfires and 8,372 are currently registered.

The practice of holding a smudging ceremony is universal among indigenous cultures although it may differ in the way it is performed from person to person, according to McIntosh.

"It can be different even in our own community," McIntosh said.

"But we want to spread the energy. No matter where you are from or what your belief system is, we all share. We've even had non-aboriginals participate. It's about being part of a community, security and feeling good."

The circle grew as people joined hands in song and prayer.

The smudging ceremony is the ritual of burning plant resins in a shell to invite peace and harmony into the lives of people and in their environment.

The smoke created is fanned onto the participants and directed like a "cleansing smoke bath."

The purpose is to clear away anxieties, sadness and any unwanted energies.

"It is ourselves with Mother Earth," McIntosh said.

"It's a connection so that we can support each other and then take that energy and bring it out into the community."