Approximately two years from now, the earth will break at the junction of County Road 42 and 9 Concession, the proposed location of Windsor-Essex’s premier acute care facility. The site was the backdrop of a significant Indigenous ceremony on Thursday, ensuring the land’s blessing prior to the commencement of construction in 2026.
This poignant gathering brought together key community figures, distinguished guests, and representatives from nearby First Nation communities alongside Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) staff. Chief Mary Duckworth of the Caldwell First Nation spoke at the event, stating that the ceremony was an occasion to communicate with the ancestors, to seek the creators’ guidance and protection, and to transform the land into a blessed space for spiritual, emotional, and physical healing.
Also present was Chief Todd Cornelius of the Oneida Nation of the Thames. Chief Duckworth articulated the essence of the ceremony, stating its purpose was to acknowledge Indigenous ancestors who have lovingly managed the land, water, flora, and fauna since the beginning of time. As part of the ceremony, sacred objects such as pipes were used, alongside a sacred fire, traditional drumming, and offerings of strawberries, blueberries, and fish.
David Musyj, the President and CEO of WRH, was overcome with emotion as he described his feelings about the ceremony to the press. “Today was an overwhelming demonstration of power,” he confessed, extending heartfelt thanks to Chief Duckworth for the blossoming friendship and partnership between himself and the First Nation communities. Musyj shared an endearing encounter from his past which initiated him into Indigenous traditions. He fondly reflected on seeing a cardinal, the embodiment of his father’s spirit—an Indigenous belief.
The memory of this touching encounter was revitalised during the ceremony, highlighting the profound power of Indigenous beliefs. For Musyj, the ceremony’s blessing was a crucial stride towards realising WRH’s goal of creating a health care centre that would beam as a beacon of welcome for Indigenous people.
The prospective healthcare centre is envisaged to have spaces for Indigenous healing practices, an outdoor healing garden, and provisions for traditional medicine. Emphasising inclusivity, Musyj expressed his aspiration for the facility to carve out a blueprint for future hospitals in Ontario, paving the way for more spaces that value and incorporate indigenous healing practices.