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Museum partners with Indigenous life coach for Winter Solstice, Connection series

'What this year has taught us is that we've put so much faith in the outside world taking care of us and we have forgotten how to take care of ourselves,' says Collingwood resident and Indigenous life and wellness coach Heather McIntyre
2020_12_10 Heather McIntyre_JG
Indigenous Life and Wellness Coach Heather McIntyre will be leading the Winter Solstice and Seven Days of Connection series. Contributed photo.

As 2020 comes to a close, the Craigleith Heritage Depot Museum is inviting you to conclude the tumultuous year with a little reflection, meditation and setting of intentions for the New Year. 

“It's all about connection and recharging. And, I think that's a key thing for everybody these days,” said Andrea Wilson, curator for the Craigleith Heritage Depot

This month, the Depot will be hosting a Winter Solstice Ceremony and Seven Days of Connection series, which will begin on Dec. 21. 

The virtual event series will offer a session led by Indigenous Life and Wellness Coach Heather McIntyre, every day for seven days, as well as a dedicated session for the Big Spirit Moon on Dec. 29. 

“What this year has taught us is that we've put so much faith in the outside world taking care of us and we have forgotten how to take care of ourselves,” she said. “There's no mistaking that we have all picked up a lot of debris this year.”

McIntyre has lived in Collingwood for more than 30 years and has been a practising health and wellness coach in the community for the past four years. 

The Depot’s Winter Solstice ceremony will encourage self-reflection about what you have gone through this year … which, with all things considered, has been an awful lot. 

“This first event is about opening up the minds of people to start to consider looking at where they've come from and where they want to go. Then in seven days between Winter Solstice and Christmas, we will really settle into what it is that you want to make different in 2021,” McIntyre said.  

The series will focus on creating space, time to heal and equipping you with a new mindset and a refreshed set of intentions as you enter the New Year.  

“Winter Solstice represents the changing of the seasons. It's deeply linked to our medicine wheel and Indigenous culture. It's the best time of year to really focus on self-reflection,” McIntyre said.  

She says the series will discuss the importance of what this time of the year brings to us, how we can connect to the earth around us, and in what ways we can open up to the lessons of bear medicine teachings throughout the upcoming seasons of rest, repair, renewal, and creation through a variety of self-awareness activities followed by a guided Winter Solstice meditation.

The series will also follow the Seven Grandfather Teachings – Wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility and truth. 

“The Big Spirit Moon is like our big New Year's celebration,” she explained. “Everything is always based around the moon cycle and it holds powerful portals and gateways for information to be shared through songs, celebration, tradition, and sound meaning and intention. It's really trying to bring us back home, to sum up the connection of who we are, and how deeply rooted and connected we are in the world.”

Prior to becoming a life coach, McIntyre worked in mental health, addictions and personal support for 20 years, and she says now more than ever people need to make their mental health a priority. 

“A lot of us were completely overwhelmed this year. Now more than ever, it's really important to have a very compassionate self talk with ourselves and to create space for boundaries. It is time to become emotionally intelligent,” she said. 

“If we can become emotionally intelligent by creating that space to cry, to lie down when our body tells us to, to go have a bath, to listen to a meditation, to join in something like this that we might feel is really freakin’ hokey. It just might be that connection that you need to come back to that present state.”

Each virtual session will be streamed live at 7 p.m. through the Blue Mountains Public Library, the Craigleith Heritage Depot, or McIntryre's social media feeds and will be recorded for ease of viewing. 

The online event will also signal the launch of the museum’s latest online exhibit – Indigenous History and Culture. 

“We're going to use this event as a launchpad for the online BiblioBoard exhibit on the 21st of December,” said Wilson. “We want to make sure that all of these things we have in our collection have a living presence in our community, that they continue to be accessible, used, and a resource of value.”

The online exhibit will include local and national content, youth resources, historic text, as well as details and information on the related artifacts in the museum’s collection.

“This series will be a really powerful way to launch, not only this resource portal, but also to launch yourself into the New Year, and hopefully refresh yourself, clear out all those cobwebs, think positively and have a healing force in your life as you move forward,” Wilson added. 

For more information about the event, visit the Depot’s event page. For additional information about McIntyre and her coaching services, visit

For those planning to attend the online series, McIntyre recommends bringing a water bottle, journal, yoga mat and any comfort items you may want. 

“I'm going to ask you to lie down. I'm going to ask you to get connected. And, I'm going to guide you through meditation after we go through some of those fun exercises that make you think about where you are in your world,” she added. 

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Jennifer Golletz

About the Author: Jennifer Golletz

Jennifer Golletz covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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