A sweat lodge built at the RCMP's headquarters in Halifax, N.S., last fall is providing employees a place for thought and contemplation.
RCMP Cpl. De-Anne Sack, a driving force behind the project, says she's proud of the RCMP for supporting the initiative.
Sack, an Indigenous policing analyst in Nova Scotia who has been with the RCMP for 22 years, began facilitating sweat lodge ceremonies at an RCMP training facility five years ago. The events became popular and Sack wanted to offer the ceremony to more employees.
She brought the idea for a headquarters sweat lodge to management who supported the proposal. Now, Sack hosts a sweat lodge ceremony on the last Thursday of every month.
Sack says the headquarters location gives RCMP members, civilian members and public service employees the chance to participate in a ceremony and non-Indigenous employees have embraced the opportunity.
"They're doing their part towards reconciliation," Sack says, adding she's pleased non-Indigenous employees are participating.
White Eagle Sundance Chief William Nevin, who spoke at the sweat lodge opening in October, says the ceremonies allow one to calm down and reflect on emotions, adding that Indigenous people have used sweat lodges for centuries.
Nevin says the sweat lodge will help promote understanding and build relationships between the RCMP and local Indigenous communities.
"The more people understand, the more they can relate to problems," says Nevin.
Sweat lodges are used by Indigenous communities across North America as ceremonial and healing spaces. The dome-shaped lodge at the RCMP's Halifax headquarters is built of birch bark, bent birch logs and wool blankets.
The RCMP isn't the only Canadian institution to install a sweat lodge. In 2010, a sweat lodge opened at CFB Edmonton built by local Indigenous elders and the military with help from the RCMP.