Honouring the traditions of Indigenous sailors

AB Edwards

AB Kyle Edwards

Capt Jenn Jackson, HMCS Ottawa PAO ~

In the spirit of Remembrance Day, HMCS Ottawa’s commemorations consisted of three separate ceremonies – a traditional Remembrance Day ceremony held at sea on the flight deck, a Committal of Ashes to Sea presided over by Padre Andrew Klinger, and a smudging performed by Able Seaman Kyle Edwards, a member of the Algonquin Nation and a boatswain.

The ceremony was made possible through the provision of a Smudge Kit provided by the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG), who also assist with maintaining the kits with replenishment of supplies through the Padre’s office. Ships have been provided kits and they are generally held in the Coxswain’s office. Where possible, an Indigenous member of the crew is appointed custodian of the kit.

“When I was first approached at the beginning of the sail about performing a smudging, I felt extremely honoured,” said AB Edwards. “This ceremony recognized the traditions and beliefs of Indigenous sailors aboard Ottawa, and recognized the sacrifice made by of all Indigenous members, veterans, and fallen.”

Each smudge kit comes with instructions from the DAAG that includes a list of supplies, how to properly use the kit, and how to maintain it. Any member of the crew may request to use the kit as part of their traditions.

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