Finding Comfort in Traditional Knowledge


School for Manitoban children has been cancelled until September, but that doesn’t mean that learning has stopped.

​Shianne McKay, a Senior Project Manager with CIER, is taking homeschooling in stride. Not only is she making sure her three children are keeping up with their schoolwork, she’s passing down Traditional Knowledge, medicine, and prayers.

She’s teaching them how to pray and how to smudge by combining four sacred medicines: tobacco, sweet grass, sage, and cedar.

“It’s a prayer about giving thanks,” she says. “To the grandmothers and the grandfathers, and Creator, the four directions.”

Shianne notes that her household is lucky to have access to these traditions and medicines all the time, but before the COVID-19 pandemic they smudged on an as-needed basis.

“Now, it’s more for purifying and keeping the air clean,” she says.

“We also do a water ceremony where we say thank you to the water for giving us life.” This ceremony is about being thankful for what you have and thankful for waking up to another day, she adds.

“Thankful for our ancestors who look after us as we’re going through this pandemic. We pray for others as well, those who don’t have access to these medicines and ways of healing.”