Designated places for Aboriginal people to pray and have burnings off Indian Reserves

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Canada needs to organize safe designated areas where Aboriginal people can gather to pray.

In 1880 Canada imposed laws, the Indian Act, to assimilate Aboriginal people into European Culture.

First Nations were not allowed to practice traditional spirituality; the potlatch and other cultural ceremonies were declared illegal. Aboriginal people were forced off their territories prime land and onto Indian Reserves.

My name is Ugh’de’wil’gal’um, I’m Gitxsan, Fireweed tribe, from the House of Woo’Sim’lax’ha’, crest is two baby white owls.

To this day I have not been able to freely practice our traditional sacred spiritual burnings off the Indian Reserves in Lower mainland.

I have tried to have burnings on the beaches in Vancouver when no one was around, on unceded Coast Salish; Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-waututh territory off Indian Reserves in Canada.

Police always do their usual security rides and when they arrived I am threatened to be charged and VPD stomps out my fire.

I was devastated each time my fire was stomped out, as I had put a food offering and gift in the fire for my son and loved ones who have passed away, and also for the ancestors.

The Vancouver Fire Department and the Vancouver Parks Board are more than supportive to Aboriginal people in providing a permit to have a sacred fire.

The main issue is as a First Nations person, unlike all other spiritualties and religions, I am forced to get “event insurance”, VFD and VPB permits, and buy mandatory metal fire pit, to practice my Gitxsan spirituality off the Indian Reserve.

Aboriginal people should not have to pay to practice our traditional sacred ceremonies. Canada fails to consider our Aboriginal traditions and culture that are presently protected under the constitution.

Canada needs to organize safe designated areas where Aboriginal people can gather to pray.