Why cedar is in our LPC logo
Cedar is one of four sacred medicines across Turtle Island (North America). The four sacred medicines are cedar, sage, sweetgrass, and tobacco. Cedar is of particular importance me in my culture of Katzie First Nation among other Coast Salish and coastal First Nations cultures. In our culture, the cedar tree is also known as the ‘tree of life’ as it provided all of the tools and medicine necessary for living in our territory for thousands of years.
(The four sacred medicines: tobacco, sage, sweetgrass, and cedar)
The cedar tree provided the material for our tools such as hammers, bows, arrows, spears, canoes, paddles, planks for longhouses. The cedar also provided our clothing. Items such as skirts, capes, shoes, hats, and regalia came from the cedar tree. It also provided the material necessary for cultural items and artwork like welcome posts (somewhat similar yet distinct from totem poles), masks, rattles, drums, staffs, talking sticks, and bentwood boxes.
(Photo of me in my cedar hat & cape created by my aunt Paula James. Photo credit: Karla Parker)
The medicinal properties of cedar (from my teachings) are of a spiritual nature. I remember my dad teaching me the power of cedar by referencing the seasons in our territory. As in all First Nations, Metis, and Inuit cultures, we live life according to the seasons. In our territory you notice that in the fall time all vitality begins to leave our territory. The leaves turn brown and begin to fall. The trees go bare, and the grass darkens. Flowers dies and many animals either begin to leave south or prepare to take the long nap of hibernation in the winter. If you observe the cedar tree you will notice it remains green and strong all year round. This is because the cedar tree has a vitality and spiritual charge stronger than its other plant relatives. Therein, it is known to be a medicinal plant with healing energies within and surrounding it. We use cedar to physically brush off unwanted or unneeded negative thoughts, emotions, and energies that we may be carrying in our mind or on our body.
(Cedar brushing. Source: Burke Museum)
If you have ever attended one of our LPC events or ceremonies, you may have noticed we sometimes practice cedar brushing after an emotional or heavy workshop. This is customary in our culture as we want to take care of your health and wellness when we are working together. We want to be good hosts and maintain good relationships with you. It is our duty to care for your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It is also customary to hang cedar boughs above entrance ways into common areas or in doorways to our homes. The teaching behind this is that the hanging cedar will cleanse your mind of negative thoughts as you enter the space, so you come with good intentions and good thoughts. If we did not take off that negative energy you might be carrying it could be like a guest coming into your home with muddy boots and leaving a trail of mud in your safe space. The hanging of cedar above the doorway is like a mental and spiritual doormat to help clean yourself of negative energy as you enter the house.
The reason we have cedar in our logo is to represent our work and the intentions we have when we work with clients and communities. The cedar in our logo is symbolic of knowledge (our professional tools) and healing. We are in the business of education and we aim to educate the hearts and minds of everyday working professionals on Indigeneity. We aspire to offer our clients applicable, relatable, and practical tools they feel like they can add to their professional tool belt, very much as the cedar tree has provided to our people for generations. We see the cedar leaf in our logo as reflective of the healing work we do in bridging the worlds of Indigenous and non-Indigenous experiences and worldviews.
We teach subject areas like racism, discrimination, oppression, state violence, and colonialism. These areas are not always the easiest to learn and or teach as they surface some degrees of vulnerability, guilt, fear, or shame among participants. As uncomfortable as these areas are, they are essential in the learning journey towards reconciliation. We also see our work as healing Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike as we are all subject to colonial harms and disadvantages. With knowledge comes healing. With knowledge comes truth. Through truth we find healing. With knowledge comes the power to make informed decisions. This is the spirit of our work at LPC.
Thank you for reading.
(Our LPC logo designed by Dusty Yurkin, lifetime friend, family, and business associate of LPC)