A ceremony to cleanse the land and people in the Barrie-Simcoe Emergency Services Campus happened Thursday afternoon with a smudging and a drum circle.
The campus became the new headquarters for the Barrie Police Service and Simcoe County Paramedic Services in early 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The smudging ceremony that was planned for that opening was finally held Thursday as emergency services personnel and members of First Nations celebrated the event.
Built on the ancestral lands of the Wendat and the Anishinaabe Nation, the headquarters was smudged by Elder Jeff Monague, former chief of Beausoleil First Nation.
“It is all about relationships that we have within the larger community, which includes First Nations people that live in the urban centres. It is always important that we have a good relationship with our police services and that they know us and come to understand us,” Monague told BarrieToday.
Smudging ceremonies are traditionally done to cleanse negative energy and provide healing and purifying to a space or individual, he explained.
The ceremony also saw the gifting of an eagle smudge fan from the Freedom Falconry that will be displayed in the headquarters foyer.
Barrie police Chief Kimberley Greenwood said this was a “significant ceremony” that was long overdue.
“It was to be held over two years ago and it is reflective of the partnerships and collaborative working relationships we have with those, for example, from the Barrie Native Friendship Centre who are on hand today,” said Greenwood. “I can tell you, every time I hear the drum ceremony, it gets me right inside, particularly if I’m sitting close. You can really feel the drum in your body.”
Monague said the ceremony was particularly meaningful considering, hundreds of years ago, up the road from the headquarters, there was a Wendat Nation village sitting where the Harvie Road bridge is now.