On Wednesday, the sun made its shortest trip through the Juneau sky, shining for just six hours and 22 minutes of sunlight before fading below the horizon just after 3 p.m. For some, the winter solstice — the darkest day of the year — can be a difficult time, but for the Haa Tóoch Lichéesh Coalition, it serves as an opportunity to celebrate the gift of light.
“We’re celebrating the return of sunlight,” said Jamiann S’eiltin Hasselquist, an organizer of the event. “We’re decolonizing holidays and coming together with the community to do traditional crafts for healing.”
The local violence prevention coalition hosted a celebration of the winter solstice on Wednesday afternoon at Generations Southeast and invited Juneau residents to come together and look toward the beginning of sunlight coming back. Hasselquist said the celebration is a time to be intentional and pay tribute to the seasonal changes observed and honored by the Alaska Native community in Juneau along with many Indigenous communities across the nation and globe.
“I think there’s a lot to learn in being in relationship to the seasons and when we move into reciprocal and healthy relationships with ourselves and our relationships, tremendous healing can happen,” said Ati Nasiah, an organizer of the event. “As the darkness turns to light, it’s an opportunity to look inward to find the light.”
Nasiah said for many, the solstice serves as a time of healing, connection and generosity, and the different activities offered at the event like crafting cottonwood salves, herbal blend teas, rose oil rollers and woven zippers are ways to invite people to tap into their inner strengths and find healing.
“It’s about us nurturing the light that’s within us,” Nasiah said. “The sun is coming back in the sky, and we’re cultivating that light back in ourselves — and this can provide an opportunity to have that conversation with oneself.”
Starting Thursday, Juneau will begin gaining 30 seconds of light a day, and will stretch up to five more minutes of light each day by the spring equinox, March 22.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.