Indigenous | Rongoa

Aotearoa whānau at giant Healing Our Spirit Worldwide event in Canada

Rōpu from Aotearoa have arrived in Vancouver, Canada for the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide conference where they are gathering indigenous healing knowledge to bring home to their people in their regions in New Zealand.

Big Voice That Speaks Truth is the vice-chairman for the First Nations Health Council, the major organiser of the event and mana whenua where the event is being held. He was close to tears in seeing the many indigenous people of the world gather on the lands of his xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.

“We are coming together for one cause for the betterment and well-being of our people using traditional, cultural, indigenous medicines and healing techniques,” Big Voice That Speaks Truth, told the gathering.

Healing Our Spirit Worldwide brings together thousands of Indigenous leaders and healthcare professionals from around the world to share and celebrate the healing power of traditional Indigenous knowledge and cultures. There are more than 600 guest speakers, and 3,500 people have registered.

Alec Dancing Bird from one of the three First Nation Vancouver tribes led the flag ceremony of each country today in full traditional clothing, feathers in hair, drum in hand.

“The sound of the drum and its beat brings healing to the soul, and the shaking of the tassels on my clothing gives off a sound that enlightens thought. This is indigenous medicine for my people,” Alec Dancing Bird said.

This is the ninth Heal Our Spirit Worldwide conference. The First Nations Health Authority is hosting this event; the last was held in Australia in 2018.

Rangatahi looking for solutions

Ngā Rangatahi ā Iwi, a group of rangatahi from around Aotearoa finding solutions for the many challenges youth face and celebrating being Māori youth, are just one of many groups from Aotearoa attending.

“From suicide to environmental issues this conference, ideas, and solutions could be gained and taken home to use,” Huirama Matatahi Pouwhakamua o Ngā Rangatahi ā Iwi said.

Taratoa Ratema Kaiwhakahaere of Te Mauru Rongoa was with her whānau from Rotorua and was aiming to make the event a rongoa platform at an international level and meet other practitioners.

“One challenge is a lot of our whānau are unaware of who they are as Māori, their connection to marae, hapū, iwi. Hopefully, by gaining experience with other indigenous practitioners and other indigenous tohunga this will give us the opportunity to work together,” Ratema said.

Ashely No Name from The Pit House Teepee Tribe from the outer reservations of Vancouver was busy sharing stories of her tā moko on her arm with a group of wāhine from Ihu Mātao, Waikato and Te Whakatōhea.

And the wāhine also shared their kōrero about their kauae and tā moko.

“This is exactly why I have come here, to meet other indigenous peoples from around the world and not only share in healing but also in culture and art, and I guess art is a source of healing anyway,” Ashely No Name said.