14 Wing’s command team gathers to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day

News Article / June 26, 2020

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June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groupsas Aboriginal Peoples, also known as Indigenous Peoples.

By Sara White

Master Seaman Scott Carson remembers, many years ago, his grandfather leading a smudging ceremony. On June 19, 2020, he led one of his own.

“My grandfather was from Eskasoni, and he used to do this – I’d seen him do it. He died young,” Master Seaman Carson told members of 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia’s command team, gathered to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, 2020, in the shade of a tree on the headquarters lawn.

“Ten years ago,” he said, “a friend here at the Wing’s Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG) invited me to a smudge, and then I started doing a little smudging and participating in the flag raisings. I’ve just kept doing it. I enjoy it.”

Master Seaman Carson, a Preventive Medicine Technician with 26 Canadian Forces Health Services, used the Wing’s DAAG’s eagle feather to waft the smudge’s scented smoke to the eyes, ear, mouth, hands and body of those present, cleansing their ability to see, hear and speak good things, and do good things as they are able. As the smoldering smudge faded, he wet and then buried the ash in the ground, “in the space we’ve created here.”

The DAAG itself hosted the smudge, doing its best to acknowledge National Indigenous Peoples Day and National Indigenous History Month, despite COVID-19 public health restrictions on crowd-gathering events. In the outdoor setting, the extended circle enabled physical distancing, but not social distancing.

14 Wing DAAG champion Lieutenant-Colonel Serge Parisien, commanding officer of 14 Operations Support Squadron, welcomed everyone, reminding them of a February training session when a planned smudge had to be postponed. “Thanks very much for participating today, and supporting the DAAG,” he said. “June 21 is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.

“We are taking steps as a DAAG to identify ways we can get the group together for more special events and awareness on the wing.”

14 Wing Commander Colonel Brendan Cook agreed that the impact of COVID-19 shouldn’t and can’t prevent the work of the DAAG.

“We need to get this group together,” Colonel Cook said. “We’ve taken steps here at 14 Wing to raise the level of awareness, and we’ll have further steps as we can. If we look at Canada’s First Nations, they all have unique customs and languages, but they’ve all helped shape Canada’s past – and they must be part of shaping Canada’s future.”

Sara White is Managing Editor of the Aurora, the base newspaper of 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia.


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