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Living willow dome comes to life in Kahnawake

COURTESY TRINA STACEY

Kahnawake now has their very own living willow dome, a space where the community can come meditate and connect with themselves, the physical world and beyond.

Two years in the making, it was completed last Sunday, May 30, and is located at Kahnawake Survival School (KSS).

The structure was envisioned and brought to life by Trina Stacey.

“I had a dream about this structure,” Stacey said. “In my dream, I saw this energy that was in the ground and outward to the physical world, but that you can reap the benefits of it.”

Stacey said after that dream, the thought never went away. Even in her own meditation practice, she would see the energy and found it to be very healing.

When she visited the Chippewa community in London, Ontario and met Alan Jacobs, he had told her how sweat lodges are created with willows, because they have the unique ability to renew their life and provide a healing power.

The willows also can cleanse air and soil, according to what Stacey learned.

“I never forgot that,” Stacey said, who has been meditating since 2015. After that visit, Stacey was encouraged to continue her quest to create a willow dome back in Kahnawake, that would provide the healing power she saw in her dream.

She eventually found Biomasse Evolution in Outaouais, Quebec, who was able to provide this service.

“It all came together in a way where we knew it was meant to be,” Stacey said.

The timing coincided with devastating news. The willow dome was set to begin construction the week of May 23, the same week 215 children’s bodies were found at the residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

“To me, the willow dome is a living testament to why we need to address residential schools,” said Kahienes Sky, coordinator of the wellness room at KSS.

Sky, who also helped organize the willow dome, said that this dome will be used for the community to gather and learn about the benefits of meditation, how to be still and quiet, and express thoughts and feelings.

“It’s been a rough week. It hasn’t stopped,” said Sky. “This is healing that needs to happen and it’s befitting with everything that is going on in Canada and our community.” Sky said she brought residential school survivor Kakaionstha Deer to that structure, who placed her tobacco down on the ground in the centre of the willow dome.

“There is hope, there is peace coming, and we need to keep talking and stop remaining silent,” Sky said.

“Healing is hard, wellness is hard, but it’s worth it,” she added.

Community helps bring willow dome to life

Community volunteers arrived Saturday to begin the process of building the structure.

Biomasse Evolution provided 500 trees; 400 used for the structure itself and 100 that can be used for a potential fence, Stacey said.

The structure was funded by the Kahnawake Business Contribution Foundation.

Members of KSS, Kahnawà:ke Transcendental Meditation and Skén:nen Í:ken also helped.

Kevin Deer, one of trustees for Skén:nen Í:ken, was also a help in the construction.

“It’s a place to connect,” Deer said. “The willow dome has a spiritual significance; it helps people to connect with the Earth Mother and upper realms and begin that inward journey within.”

Deer also said this willow dome will be used for the community to answer the deeper questions of everyone’s life and purpose.

“We as individuals have to travel that inward journey alone, but it helps when we have the support from different people that understand,” Deer said.

“Once we connect with the deeper meaning, it changes our relationship with how we respect one other, how we treat our body and the natural world. Then we respect all life, and it even changes our relationship with the ancestral realm and how we understand and make peace with our life.”

Positive future

Stacey said once the willow dome was completed, the community gave words of intention for peace for the children of the past, present and future.

In the fall, there will be an official opening of the space to the community. Stacey emphasizes that the dome is for everyone in the community, and is even wheelchair accessible.

“Here in Kahnawake, we have to put together our best energy to plan a more positive future that we are more in control of from love and kindness,” Stacey said. “This dome is at the heart of our community.

“The dome being planted the week the babies were found reminds us that we should all strive to be human to each other and uplift humanity, because regardless of where we come from, every being has the right to experience bliss and contentment in your life.”

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