North Vancouver School District
the natural place to learn©
Dec 20
Process and Protocol

The Indigenous Education team's offerings of Educating the Educator need to follow protocol for certain activities. In some instances, the traditional offering might include separation of events, or roles, by gender. For example, the "Shukwem" (spiritual cleansing bath) does not allow males and females to be together for the ceremony. Another example: when ceremony occurs that involve speakers, it is only males that are allowed to be the speakers according to protocol, and females are the floor managers. There are many other instances where there is a clear distinction. The Indigenous Education team works closely with knowledge keepers from the Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation to ensure that we are following protocol. 

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This December, the NVSD Indigenous Education Team has been sharing teachings about “Shukwem” (spiritual cleansing bath). Shukwem is a tens of thousands of years process of cleansing oneself of any and all negative energy. Shukwem roughly translates to spiritual cleansing bath. The Coast Salish ancestors discovered that issues and problems in the community from individual and self negativity. So, the Squamish created a community culture of removing negative thoughts, feelings and energy through multiple different facets: brushing-off with a cedar bough, smudging with sacred plants, ho'oponopono cleaning thoughts, and bathing in any fresh water. 

Shukwem at sunrise symbolizes spirits returning from their earth sleep back to the spirit world, which is a powerful cleansing moment. At this time, the spirits can give an extra hand in carrying away the harmful energies. A bath can be done anytime. Depending on the purpose, different waters represent different energies. Rapid waters for energy, ocean for power and still waters for calm feelings. 

The reason we do this is because we would not dare ever to bring in any negative feeling into our communities because the ancestors realized that 1oz. of negative energy was always going to affect the entire circle. (words and teachings from Swalklanexw, Dallas Guss) 

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