A marriage of cultures
LAC STE. ANNE, AB – We had wonderful celebration of a wedding ceremony in early August on the pilgrimage grounds at Wakamne (God’s Lake).
Weddings are joyful and happy celebrations in Indigenous communities. It is a celebration of a new family, a family that enriches community life and brings children.
The wedding was a blend of Christian liturgy and Native traditional rituals and prayers. I was presiding over the Christian ceremony and our Elder and Spiritual Leader Charles Letendre of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation led the traditional ceremony.
The teepee was set up by a few young men under the experienced eye of a spiritual leader.
The mother of the bride prepared all the decoration. A buffalo hide, which is a symbol of abundance, was used to cover the chairs where the couple sat.
When everything was ready, the groom arrived, followed by his best man. Drummers sang a song as the bride walked down the aisle and joined her husband. Both were invited to sit on chairs prepared for them by Charles Letendre.
Smudging took place as part of the purification and cleansing ceremony before I welcomed everyone, read the Gospel and said a few words.
Before the exchange of wedding vows, two eagle feathers were tied to the hair of the bride and groom as a sign of prayer and spiritual life. Charles explained the meaning of eagle feathers and asked them to make prayer life part of their married life.
The couple then exchanged the wedding vows, holding hands as the rings were blessed and placed on their fingers.
The next ritual involved Charles linking their hands with a rope as a sign of union that shouldn’t be separated.
At that moment, we both prayed over them, asking Wake (God) to bless them and to make them strong in their married life. All prayed The Lord’s Prayer to conclude the service.
After the blessing, they were presented as a new family, as husband and wife. The drummers then took over and the newlywed couple walked away.
By Les Kwiatkowski, OMI