Harold Petiquay

Harold lives in Wemotaci and has seven children. Born in 1977, he has had a varied work history, including stints as a chief fireman and a mechanic. In 1997 he took a course in suicide crisis intervention and subsequently served as a social worker for several years. For over twenty years he has been the fire keeper for his father’s sweat lodge.

Marcel Petiquay is well-known as a speaker on the aboriginal experience. Frequently featured in news reports on abuse at Canada’s Indian residential schools, he also testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. For over twenty years he has been assisting at sweat lodges as well as talking, purification and healing circles. Harold is always at his father’s side as the fire keeper. He looks after the fire and assists those who participate in these traditional ceremonies, explaining the steps involved and their benefits.

Harold has developed a ritual for fetching the wood. He places tobacco at the base of the tree he is going to cut down, to thank its spirit for helping people. He then prepares the fire to heat the stones, called “grandfathers.” These stones represent the spirits of the ancestors, and it is to them that people address their questions and prayers during the sweat lodge ceremony.

In Avant les rues, Harold played the role of his father, Marcel, who was present both as an extra and to ensure that customs were respected. On set, Marcel watched his son in silence. Harold carried out the rituals naturally, the words were in him. After the shoot, Marcel told his son that he was now ready to become a spiritual guide.”

– Chloé Leriche