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8 • THURSDAY, March 13, 2014

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Ritual is spiritual for some

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go the wrong way and I just hope that it doesn’t, I pray that it doesn’t. You put alcohol in to the equation, and they’re jumping in and something could happen too, so to me it’s just a safety issue,” Manuel said. “I want encourage my people to continue to go to the water and pray, but just ask them to be safe and do it at a safe time.” After her winter challenge on Tuesday, Aspinall went back in the water to conduct a spiritual water cleansing ceremony. She said it had been 20 years since she last did any sort of water ceremony, and the first one for her in the winter.

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cerns centre on safety and the fact there’s a spiritual significance to getting into the water for First Nations. “Our ancestors and our elders did this as a teaching of discipline. To get in to the water, to pray to the water, the water’s life, it’s a life giver – without water we would not be here – we’re enveloped in water when we’re a baby,” Manuel said. “So we honour and respect water.” He said First Nations people conduct these water ceremonies all year long. Manuel said he prefers people who get into the water do it safely: in shallow water and in the light of day. “I think it could

“I don’t want them doing it during class time or lunchtime or while they’re at school,” Lawrence said. He said if students are going to do it, he prefer they do the challenge safely, with adult supervision. “Sometimes kids get into deep water, no pun intended,” Lawrence said. Cavaliere’s aunt Jane Robertson said she thinks as long as it’s done properly and under supervision, it’s a safe and fun challenge. John Robertson said he doesn’t think it’s any worse than a polar bear swim.

The new viral sensation draws parallels to a spiritual cleansing ceremony First Nations people take part in. MSS Aboriginal Academy teacher Tim Manuel has his students regularly participate in the cleansing ritual where they dunk themselves in the Coldwater River. However, Manuel said the winter challenge is a different concern. “Everybody’s doing it, everybody’s doing it. Not just MSS [students] – all the native people are doing it, they’re challenging each other,” Manuel said. “And I’ve got no problem with that,” he said adding his con-

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Jensen Cavaliere emerges from the icy waters of the Coldwater River after taking the 2014 Winter Challenge, while family members capture it all on their phones. Michael Potestio/Herald

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Merritt Herald, March 13, 2014  

March 13, 2014 edition of the Merritt Herald

Merritt Herald, March 13, 2014  

March 13, 2014 edition of the Merritt Herald