"In my heart, the tobacco, once it’s lit, the smoke is going to take my message to the Creator for whatever my vows are."
- Elder Genevieve Bruised Head
What Exactly Is Traditional Tobacco?
To many Indigenous people, the use of traditional tobacco is considered to be a sacred way of sending our thoughts, hopes and prayers up to the Creator as the smoke rises on the wind. Because tobacco is considered a gift from the Creator, it's incredibly important to be clear on the role traditional tobacco usage plays in many ceremonies and rituals. It's also incredibly important to differentiate it from commercial tobacco.
IT'S TIME - A COLLABORATION AND INTEGRATION BETWEEN MAINSTREAM CESSATION RESOURCES AND INDIGENOUS WAYS OF LEARNING AND KNOWING
An important part of community change is having all the necessary tools to implement it.
Thanks to the The CAMH TEACH Project, we're excited to share a First Nations-specific version of IT'S TIME — Indigenous Tools and Strategies on Tobacco: Interventions, Medicines, and Education.
REACHING ACROSS THE GENERATIONAL DIVIDE
"My hope is to educate our young people," explains Elder Susan Quinney, speaking to a panel of her peers. "To show them how sacred our tobacco is. How we use it in so many different ceremonies, how we put tobacco down whatever we do, whatever we're picking."
"I put tobacco in water because water is life for us, too," she continues. "We live through water. That's how we live to survive."
REVERENT MEMORIES: A DISCUSSION WITH ELDER LOUIS LAPATACK
"Cistêmâw…I haven't heard that word in years," muses Elder Louis Lapatack. "Kayâs...That old word, cistêmâw ê-kî-pêhtamân â kayâs."
Lapatack is one of several Elders involved in Keep Tobacco Sacred, a united effort to honor tobacco's role in many of Alberta's Indigenous cultures. The goal of Elder Lapatack and his peers is twofold — to convey the cultural significance of the sacred plant while also warning of the harm that can be caused by commercial tobacco products. For Elder Lapatack, that begins the language used to describe it.