There are certain memories that make a lasting impact on your life. For Rainier Ward, a cultural practitioner of the Mi'kmaq Nation at Metepenagiag, it was a First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) employee that reached out and offered a simple act of kindness when he was feeling down and not like himself. That act of kindness made a profound impact on him; it inspired Rainier to keep going and stay strong.
The long path in recovery hasn't been easy for Rainier, whose traditional name is Gigpesan. But he's grateful for today and for the life he has now. It's a reminder that even when facing your darkest times in life, positive change is attainable with the support of your community, friendships and family. Guidance from loved ones can help us along our healing journey and contribute to our overall health and wellness.
Rainier's belief that we can be medicine for each other, no matter where we are, highlights his power to connect with others. His dedication to smudging others and his role as an addictions counsellor at the Rising Sun Treatment Center demonstrates his commitment to healing and helping others.
Traveling from New Brunswick to Vancouver to attend Healing Our Spirit Worldwide (HOSW), Rainier only brought a small amount of medicine with him. When he was asked to help smudge at the large pipe ceremony at the last minute, he wasn't sure he would have enough medicine for everyone.
Rainier usually smudges 15 people with the amount of medicine he'd brought – and it turned out to be more than enough. His medicine was fanned out by the wind and reached over 100 people by the guiding hands of the Creator and ancestors.
Rainier felt honoured when an Elder carried his eagle fan as part of the procession in HOSW's opening ceremony and also when he carried his drum in the Parade of Nations and sang the Friendship song.
It's clear that Rainier's journey has come full circle, from receiving support to becoming an inspiration to others through his determination and resiliency. For anyone facing challenging times, this emphasizes how important it is to have a support system around you. His story is a powerful reminder of the positive effects that kindness can have.