Helen Robinson-Settee (left) and Arlene Desjarlais (right)

In September 2020, Indigenous Peoples’ Engagement and Research Council (IPERC) Co-chair Helen Robinson-Settee, IPERC member Arlene Desjarlais, and IPERC Coordinator Craig Settee attended a Sundance ceremony near Gull Lake, Manitoba, to renew Can-SOLVE CKD’s commitment to honoring the name of the Wabishki Bizhiko Skaanj Learning Pathway (White Horse in Anishinaabemowin).

The Wabishki Bizhiko Skaanj name was given by Knowledge Keeper Dan Thomas at a pipe ceremony in March 2018. Along with the name, Elder Dan gave four colours for the learning pathway (white, blue, red, and yellow) along with instructions that the name should be cared for with an offering of blankets, cloths, and ribbons at the Horse Ceremony during Sundance each year. Prayers were offered for those living with kidney disease, those waiting for a kidney, kidney donors, kidney recipients, caregivers, family, friends and the Network as a whole.

The Horse Ceremony takes place on the last day of Sundance. Ribbons, cloth and blankets are offered to the horse. People share stories of their name, clan or a teaching they have about the horse. This is when we can share about our ceremony with Dan, the name we received and the yearly responsibility to offer gifts of cloth, ribbon and an honorarium for the Horse Handler.

This year saw an adjustment in the number of people attending the Sundance ceremony due to COVID-19 in order to ensure safety measures were followed during the gathering. The Sundance was held at Knowledge Keeper Dan Thomas’ property.

Helen Robinson-Settee shares some knowledge regarding the ceremony: “Sundance is held over four days but it is year-round. Sundance is about your life, 365 days of the year. Over the course of the year, usually starting in January, there are four Sundance Sings or Meetings where we sing songs, dance, pray, share food, receive teachings.”

The Horse Ceremony and Sundance is truly an emotional and spiritual experience and we are grateful to share our experience with you all. Miigwetch. Marsee.

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