SIX NATIONS — The hereditary clan mothers of the Six Nations community have instructed that all ceremonies may cease until the pandemic is gone.
This announcement coming from Haudenosaunee hereditary leadership in a video posted to YouTube, thanking helpers and acknowledging COVID-19 outbreaks linked to people who attended ceremonies earlier this year.
“This past year the ceremonies were being put through without any instances of COVID-19,” said Hohahes Jock Hill as he read a written statement from hereditary leaders. “During the midwinter ceremonies at Six Nations we have seen numerous cases reported even with the many precautions in place. We are encouraging anyone that attended the most recent midwinter ceremonies or been in contact with someone who has to reach out to the COVID-19 assessment centre for guidance.”
Hill thanked the ceremonial helpers and said that the clan mothers were removing the responsibilities of those people putting through ceremonies for the remainder of the pandemic.
“We recognize the level of stress on these individuals in honouring these practices. We also need to think of their wellbeing moving forward and we are now temporarily removing their responsibility until we have passed through this pandemic.”
Hill says it is now up to individual longhouses on the territory to determine how to conduct ceremonies without gathering a crowd.
“The other sources of outbreaks — also our gatherings, even the small gatherings can lead to high community transmission. We have witnessed firsthand how powerful and contagious the virus really is. We are encouraging everyone to stay within your own household except for essential purposes. We cannot stress enough how important it is to curb the spread of this virus,” said Hill.
The clan mothers and chiefs also expressed concern that community members should steer away from shaming and blaming those who have contracted the virus as the psychological toll of being infected is serious and can affect a person’s overall wellbeing.
“That negativity may lead to more stress on individuals who are already trying to deal with the impacts of the virus. Positivity can go a long way, and simply reaching out with covid precautions in place can uplift someone. Be there for each other, care for one another and we will get through this as a strong Haudenosaunee community.”