Ceremony, for the Ojibwe, is a word used to describe a set of practices by which people open a direct channel to the Creator. Anglican Christians access their God through their own ceremonies, which they call ritual or liturgy. Du Vernet recounted many examples of both ceremony and rituals. In our reading of his diary, we see how Du Vernet’s Anglican view of what counts as liturgy led him often to misunderstand Ojibwe ceremony, while sometimes also appreciating it.
Du Vernet recorded his observations of many Ojibway ceremonies and rituals such as the medicine tent, the long tent, and the care of graves. Du Vernet did not fully grasp the significance of ceremony, perhaps because he was rarely invited to attend. He observed and criticized Ojibwe practice nonetheless. Du Vernet’s failure to understand was part of a broader colonial, Christian worldview with violent effects, in which the Canadian government labelled Ojibwe ceremonies as heathen and as illegal. Despite this, even Du Vernet felt a “feeling of reverence” when he entered a medicine ceremony as an uninvited guest.