Ready For It

About 90–I guess 1992–my wife and I at the time had the misfortune of losing our first child. It was a pretty dark time. I was selling Sharp photocopiers out of Duncan at the time. I had a lot of contacts with First Nations–Mid-Island Tribal Council (which I don’t think exists anymore) and a few others as well. One day I had chanced, in Chemainus, to run into–I guess he would be considered an Elder now–a guy by the name of Lloyd Haarala. At one point, his partner had asked me in some travels had I ever done a First Nations sweat. And I hadn’t. Like I say, it was in a pretty dark time. I was feeling lost, I had lost my first son, I was a father for like two or three hours. One day I had brought some tobacco to Lloyd and I was talking to him about the possibility of getting involved with a sweat. He had said it wasn’t an easy thing to do and he would tell me when I was ready for it. About a year and a half later, I had actually really forgotten about the conversation, and I popped in to see Lloyd at his carving studio. We were talking about laser faxes, which were just coming out at the time, and he stopped short in the conversation during my presentation on how laser faxes were working, and he says, “I think you’re ready now. Would you like to join me in a sweat?” We set a date. It was just north of Chemainus, or in between Chemainus and Duncan. I was brought into the lodge and given the cedar smoke bath, and I went into the sweat. I had brought my bundle of colours in and burnt them in the fire, and paid homage to the four cardinal directions, and then entered into the lodge itself with about ten other people. I’m not sure if I could do it again. It wasn’t an easy thing to sit through. It was extremely uncomfortable. A lot of times I had my face buried into the dirt, you know, calling on the support of the Elders. It was one of the most interesting times of my life and it certainly helped clear up a lot of the darkness that I was feeling.