Brock University: Birthing ceremony transforms Brock teaching lodge into sacred space

A traditional structure at Brock University has undergone a ceremonial transformation into a sacred space.

A birthing ceremony was held Friday, July 8 for the Brock University teaching lodge, calling into being the new sacred space and grounding it in spirit and its purpose.

Thanks to a gift from the Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board (NPAAMB), the teaching lodge was built in 2021 in an open area behind Schmon Tower on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment by a team of youth from NPAAMB’s Naabidisiwin program (an Anishnabek word, which means ‘I have a purpose’).

Brock’s Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement Robyn Bourgeois said the space will be used for an array of activities.

“The teaching lodge will provide a critical space for offering Indigenous teachings, grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and being, to the Brock community,” she said. “It will also be a home for Brock’s Indigenous students, staff and faculty to participate in ceremony and engage with Elders and Indigenous knowledge carriers.”

The birthing ceremony was led by Grandmother Renee Thomas Hill from Six Nations, with the assistance of youth who built the lodge, and involved the burning and laying of medicines, prayers, drumming and food offerings.

With the ceremony complete, Bourgeois said the space must be treated with the utmost respect.

“Now birthed, the teaching lodge is a sacred space that needs to be respected by all members of the Brock community,” she said. “Any use of this space should be co-ordinated with Indigenous Peoples on campus.”