Submitted — The second All Nations Gathering of Indigenous Spirituality and Cultural Awareness at ECHO: Enchanted Healing Oasis is set for June 28 to July 1 this year just outside of Portage la Prairie and people are encouraged to stop in and take part in the healing.
The camp does last an entirety of four days but people are also welcome to come and go as it suits their schedule. Allan Smoke from the Dakota Nation has been operating private sweat lodge ceremonies at the Enchanted Healing Oasis since 2016 and he has opened it up to anyone that would like to take part and learn more about Aboriginal culture or to learn more about themselves.
ECHO is located only a few miles east of Southport, just 10 minutes outside of Portage la Prairie. Smoke says the reason he wanted to host the gathering is that he has been through a lot in his life and he wants to help strengthen people’s discipline like he has to himself.
The first day will have a bigger sweat lodge beginning at 10 a.m. and Smoke invites those curious about the ceremony to be part of it and experience it in person. The other days are loosely scheduled and more organic giving people an opportunity to explore during the day while sweat lodge ceremonies will take place in the evening at 6 p.m.
ECHO is home to a forest, grassland/meadow, and wetland ecosystems, and is a food forest of cherries, apples, pears, plums, Russian grapes and sometimes apricots. In addition, it has over 100 different kinds of trees, many of them from different parts of the world. People taking part will be able to explore the forestry, cook on the communal wood-fired oven built with recycled materials, and participate in other activities while learning about the trees and ecosystems.
The location is only a few miles from town if any supplies are needed while at ECHO.
The gathering is located in a former research nursery, which is now a 47-acre nature preserve called Enchanted Healing Oasis (ECHO). To help protect ECHO’s relatively young ecosystems, which include a diversity of trees, we try to minimize compaction of the earth as much as possible.
There are plenty of areas to pitch a tent, including the forested area behind the shed, around the walnut trees, and many hidden areas among the trees. Simply walk around and explore. Please note that the property is off the grid and there is no water. There may be a water tank available for the gathering, but be prepared in case there isn’t.
The sweat lodge ceremony is sacred and anything that is talked about in the lodge is confidential. The sweat lodge ceremony is also detoxifying, very healing and good for your skin. Women are asked to wear a dress or skirt ankle length as it is seen as connecting with Mother Earth as we showing respect for other women. Men are asked to wear cotton shorts or towel if cotton shorts are unavailable.
People are also encouraged to bring:
– Your clothing will be wet when exiting and you may want to change (be prepared for all weather conditions as the ceremony takes place outdoors)
– No jewellery (uncomfortable to wear in the heat)
– Water (can bring it into sweat lodge if not in a metal container)
– Loose tobacco and fruit as an offering and for Allan (sweat lodge leader/elder)
– Towel to wipe yourself and one to sit on in the lodge
– Cloth to wet and breathe into if you find sweat lodge too hot at times
– Container for cigarette butts if a smoker (nothing is supposed to be thrown into the sacred fire)
– leave everything as you see it and clean up after yourself; care for Mother Earth
– Women cannot be menstruating when participating in the sweat lodge ceremony.
ECHO is 1 1/2 miles south on gravel Road 34W (North Ridge School Road). Drive south on Road 34W past first four-way intersection, then watch for the Elm River (marshy area). Right after the river, drive very slowly and you’ll see a meadow on the left; the lane entrance is marked by a red sign and red flag.
People are asked to park alongside the road by the entrance to ECHO. If people are unable to walk and would like to come, let us know as a ride to the property can be arranged.