Creating a spiritual space
Updated: Apr 26, 2019
The smell of sage and cedar filled the room as Anishinabek Grandmother, Francine Payer smudged the mothers and children who call Interval House of Ottawa their home. Smudging is an Indigenous ceremony believed to clear negative energy and bring in positive intention. The evening was filled with traditional songs and teachings about the sacred power that a woman carries. The evening was the culmination of months of preparation for the official opening and blessing of the IHO Spiritual Room.
The Spiritual Room is a multi-faith quiet space that is nestled in the residential quarters of the home. This accessibility allows women to find a sanctuary to connect with themselves on a regular basis. Displayed are a variety of Holy books, specific prayer items of different faiths and a number of different types of seating arrangements. The room is open to any woman who wants to pray, meditate or simple be with herself. It offers a place of refuge where they can find solace in the stressful transition that brought them to IHO.
"I am a very spiritual person. I always have been, since I was a kid, and that room has reminded me of that. I stumbled upon it by accident and have been there daily since. It is a space that brings me peace." — Resident
Residents share that the Spiritual Room offers them a place to be alone, away from children, the stresses of paperwork and to do lists. Even if merely for a moment, the room allows women to find themselves again.
Staff have found that it is a positive neutral space to bring in a small family and teach them about the power of stress management, breathing techniques and meditation. Staff have also described the benefits of finding themselves in the spiritual room during breaks to practice their own self-care.
With the backdrop mural of a beautiful forest path, the room has become another welcoming space for women to receive one-on-one support as they rebuild their lives free from violence.
The IHO Spiritual Room would not have been possible without a grant from St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, in memory of Barbara Claxton Fisher.
Additionally, we received support from St. Luke's Anglican Church, Rama Lotus Yoga Studio and Monalisa Portraits to make this space a reality.