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Academic News

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

December 7, 2018

We sat down with Elder-in-Residence Paul Guimond, who will lead the Winter Solstice ceremony at the Notre Dame Campus, to learn more about this key seasonal event.

Both Red River College Indigenous Support Centres (Exchange District Campus and Notre Dame Campus) will host Winter Solstice celebrations to mark the start of the season, December 13th and 14th, and you’re invited!

Gatherings for the Winter Solstice bring comfort, warmth, and people together to share stories, laughter and of course, food. In Indigenous culture, winter represents an ancestral spirit, so reflecting on the past by sharing stories and thanking our ancestors is an important part of honouring where we’re from, especially as we plan for the cold months ahead.

We’ll begin with a traditional pipe ceremony and sacred songs, one of which will be a thank you song to our ancestors. Don’t worry if you don’t know the words, lyrics will be shared so everyone can join in. At the Notre Dame location, we will bring a grandfather drum to life. Both events will conclude with a feast that Paul says represents feasting the spirits and showing thanks.

If you’re wondering what the Pipe Ceremony is all about, Paul says, “it was always the pipe that brought people together. The pipe’s stone represents strength, and that stone has been here for a long time, so it has a lot of stories. The wood that’s attached to that pipe represents the connection to the spirit that connects to the creator. So if you put those two together and put our first medicine in the pipe, which is tobacco, then that smoke takes the message to the creator.”

The Winter Solstice celebrations offer RRC students and staff an opportunity to learn more about and participate in the Indigenous ceremonies that take place at the college, visit the Support Centres, and meet staff.

All pipe carriers are invited to take part in the Pipe Ceremony.

Winter Solstice: Pipe Ceremony & Feast
Thursday, December 13 – 11:00 am
Indigenous Support Centre
Exchange District Campus – P407

Winter Solstice: Open House
Pipe Ceremony, Feast & Making of the Grandfather Drum
Friday, December 14 – 10:00 am
Indigenous Support Centre
Notre Dame Campus – F205