Winnipeg sailor gives ship a positive start for deployment

Cdr Doug Layton, Winnipeg’s Commanding Officer, took part in a smudging ceremony performed by Cpl Terrance Carrier (left).

Cdr Doug Layton, Winnipeg’s Commanding Officer, took part in a smudging ceremony performed by Cpl Terrance Carrier (left).

Lt(N) Amélie Leduc
HMCS Winnipeg

HMCS Winnipeg underwent a special cleansing ceremony, shortly after it set sail, by a crewmember of Cree heritage from the Sucker Creek First Nation in Alberta.

Cpl Terrance Carrier, a Medical Technician, volunteered to perform a smudging ceremony to give the ship a “clean start” for its four-month deployment.

HMCS Winnipeg will be our home for the next four months. She will provide for us and protect us. But in order for the Winnipeg to succeed, we need to help her,” said Cpl Carrier.

Traditionally, a smudging ceremony is for purifying or cleansing the soul of negative thoughts of a person or place. It can also allow people to remember, connect, and be grounded in the event, task, or purpose at hand, and to let go of negative feelings and thoughts.

According to First Nations’ practice, a smudge is normally led by an elder or a person who has an understanding of what a smudge is and why it is done.

“I am not an elder. Therefore, I ask for their blessings before I complete a smudge,” explained Cpl Carrier. “I do the best that I am able, and hopefully all who join me in these ceremonies have a positive experience from the smudging.”

The ceremony began with a cross-legged Cpl Carrier facing east. He rolled sage and tobacco around a small piece of Chaga (mushroom) chosen for its medicinal characteristics. He then placed the contents into a small cast iron pan and lit it with a wooden match.

At the stern of the ship he gestured to the four cardinal points. Facing east, he first cleansed himself. 

“I felt that Winnipeg will need balance during the sail. I started with my hands, then over my head, and then into my eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. I asked the ship to provide for us, and in return we will treat her with the upmost respect, keep her clean, and bring her home as safe as we can.”

He then smudged to the east, which represents balance.

“I gave thanks for today, and a peaceful future.”

Then to the south, which represents strength.

“I gave thanks for family and friends. Keep them safe while we are at sea.”

To the north, which represents knowledge. 

“I gave thanks for the lessons we have learned and the experiences we will discover.”

Lastly, he turned to the West, which represents choice. 

“I gave thanks for the creator, the ship, and Canada for giving us this opportunity to make a difference.”

He continued the smudging at the ship’s bell with the Command Team.

Smudging ceremony performed by Cpl Terrance Carrier.

Smudging ceremony performed by Cpl Terrance Carrier.

“After I cleansed the bell, the Command Team chose to cleanse themselves with a Canadian goose feather. As I requested, they took a moment to be thankful for something, and then they each spoke the ship’s motto: One with the Strength of Many, and waved the smoke to the bell.”

Cdr Doug Layton, Winnipeg’s Commanding Officer, took part in the smudging ceremony.

“It was a great experience and the perfect start to our mission and deployment. Cpl Carrier’s passion to share and teach us about traditional ceremonies and spiritual practices is a great example of the truly diverse nature of our Canadian Armed Forces members.”

Finally, Cpl Carrier completed the smudging at each door of the bridge and spoke the ship’s motto.

He gave the goose feather to the ship’s chaplain, Captain (Rabbi) Noteh Glogauer. 

“He is our friend, our spiritual guide, a shoulder to lean or cry on. Our Rabbi, words do not capture the goodness in his heart, for our ship, and her crew,” said Cpl Carrier. “This is why I felt he deserved the goose feather.”

Cpl Carrier will keep the ashes in a tin with some peppermint throughout the deployment. He will add a pebble to the tin that will be collected from each port visit.

“Once we are back home, I will bury the tin near a tree facing west. I will place some fish above the tin in a branch of the tree, and leave. The story I was told by one of my elders is that a bird will eat the fish, act as a messenger to the creator, and tell the creator where the ashes are so he can collect them.”


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  1. Sheila Jaworski says:

    Great job Son….may the ship and all its members be safe and return home to all your loved ones. Hiy hiy. 🙏

  2. William Eugene Stewart says:

    A safe Journey to HMCS Winnipeg ship and company.
    Well Done!
    A very powerful ceremony as all the crew are involved as participants and witnesses!

    This is the start of Trust which brings Reconciliation!

    Ooo-Tuk-Siah (Bill Stewart)
    Lake Cowichan, BC

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