Staff connect with Indigenous culture in SaskEnergy’s first sweat lodge

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The willow frame of a sweat lodge

Attending a sweat lodge for the first time can be a powerful experience. Just ask Kendra Lovas, an employee at SaskEnergy in Regina.

“At first, it was hot and dark, my heart was beating fast, and I felt like my skin was burning,” says Kendra. “After the first break, I wasn’t sure if I would go back in, but I told myself that I needed to give it a chance, and I’m glad I did. It was a great experience.”

Four people stand in front of office windows.
Derrick Mann, Kendra Lovas, Kelly Cameron and Joseph Daniels recently attended the first sweat lodge hosted by SaskEnergy.

SaskEnergy is committed to building meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities. One way we have done this is through hosting feasts and pipe ceremonies. This was the first time SaskEnergy held a sweat lodge.

“The reason for this sweat lodge was to give thanks for a successful construction season and ask for blessings in future planning,” says Joseph Daniels, SaskEnergy’s Director of Indigenous Engagement. “I’m happy that we are providing more opportunities for our staff to experience Indigenous ceremony and culture.”

The sweat was held on Piapot First Nation on November 16. SaskEnergy has a close working relationship with the community, having partnered on projects and attending their annual powwow.

Prior to a sweat lodge starting, a sacred fire is built outside the lodge where the participants will be situated. Rocks are heated over the fire, then brought into the lodge for the sweat to begin. Women sit on one side and men on the other, with the rocks placed in the middle. The Elder pours water on the rocks, creating steam, and begins reciting prayers and sacred songs. Each participant can say personal prayers or give thanks.

“The sweat lodge is a sacred spiritual ceremony for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual purification and healing,” says first-time sweat lodge attendee Derrick Mann, SaskEnergy’s Executive Vice President of Infrastructure Delivery and Reliability. “For me, attending a sweat lodge is a bridge to understanding Indigenous cultures, and it helps me understand how I can answer the calls to action and improve relationships that I have, while making new relationships.”

After the Elder completes a round of prayer and songs, the participants step outside the lodge for a break. The process then begins over again. In total, four rounds were completed in the lodge at Piapot.

Following the final round, the participants feasted together on bullet soup and bannock.

“It all was a great experience, and I would suggest if others are able to partake in a sweat to give it a try,” says Kendra.