In a wooded area next to some farmland west of Waterloo, Ont., is Crow Shields Lodge.
This is an indigenous land-based education and healing space just outside of New Hamburg. There is a white tent – the Teaching Lodge – that can seat about 20 people. There is a walled tent with a fire pit for gatherings. There is a sweat lodge.
On this particular day, as the snow rose on the other side of the trees, Clarence Cachagi led three others into a blur. He burned tobacco and sage in a small cast iron pan.
As a child growing up in the Chaploe Cree First Nation in northern Ontario, Kachaji’s father called him Crow Shields “before I got the name of my soul,” he said.
“My dad has been around for over 25 years now, so I thought it would be cool if I could try to include that name to honor my father and honor my family,” he said.
The lodge is a place for healing, for the community to gather and learn from one another, Cachage said.
He sees the lodge as a way of giving back because he says there is a great need for healing in the community. This includes local issues, such as the Sir John A. The removal of the Macdonald statue, possible burial sites on the sites of former residential schools, and ongoing conflicts between the local and federal governments.
Bringing the Lodge to the Waterloo Area
The Cachagee was taken from his family in the Scoop of the sixties, when an estimated 20,000 indigenous children were taken from their families and placed with white families. He lived with a New Order Mennonite family in the Waterloo area, attended New Dundee Public School and Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School.
The lodge was originally in Guelph, but Cachazzi wanted to move it to the Waterloo area and began looking for a location about a year ago. That was when he was engaged to Jennifer Fanning, an organic farmer and Wilmot Township councillor.
He offered to give her free land for the lodge. He initially looked near the Nith River, but knowing that there was a flood every spring, he chose a place in a wooded area.
“How good is it to come back to the settlement in which you grew up? And then to bring medicine and then to bring education and then to bring in land management and then to bring the opportunity for reconciliation, like how beautiful that is? ” Kutchi said.
There were some issues with the township as to whether the lodge was allowed under the zoning bylaws, but the staff was able to move the lodge.
look | Clarence Cachazzi talks about building the lodge:
personal relationship to location
Finning said that about a year ago, she began to think about how she could make a difference when it came to reconciling with local indigenous communities, and the idea of offering the land made sense to her.
“We see our position as farmers as a management capability, not ownership,” she said.
“As organic farmers that really underlies our philosophy of how we go about farming, that this land is only for our use, when we are here, to serve and to steer and protect. “
The forest in which the lodge is located is special for fencing. A mother of three boys, she admits that she suffered from postpartum depression after they were born and that the woods was a place where she found healing.
look | Jennifer Pfenning on why the lodge’s location resonates with her:
need another site
As volunteers at the lodge began to use items they already owned and donated in the spring, Cachazzi said he was impressed by the number of people who wanted to help. and those who came to the site for treatment.
People used the site to volunteer or talk to others, or use the time for self-reflection, to participate in workshops on reconciliation and child welfare systems, to learn about medicinal plants and to be present in space. is used. There is no set time for people to use the lodge, although people need to contact the group before leaving.
There’s also no cost to use the site, although Cachazzi said people often donate or offer to volunteer.
“We’ve been doing this for over six months and the need for treatment is so great, what’s next? We need another site. We want to duplicate what’s here.”
He added that setting up a second site of Crow Shield Lodge elsewhere in the area would help them reach out to more people.
“There’s a lot of intergenerational trauma and dysfunction out there, and we need to educate people about why this happened,” he said.
“Crow Shield Lodge is a place where people can talk about their brokenness, where there is no shame.”
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