Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Residents take steps toward healing

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Apr 14/06) - A workshop focusing on traditional Dene health and wellness ended in tears of joy in Fort Simpson.

More than 25 people of all ages attended the four-day event from March 29 to April 1, making it the most highly attended workshop offered by the Brighter Futures program, said Tonya Cazon.

"There definitely is a need and an interest," Cazon said.

A lot of people want to learn but they don't know how to start and how to practise in a good way, said Cazon. The workshop was offered by the Liidlii Kue First Nations for band members in response to the feeling that this is the right time for healing to start.

Part of the goal, said Cazon, was to repair the damage created by the history of colonialism and cultural genocide.

"We are strengthening people's pride in themselves and the ways of healing that were originally practised before the modern Western society," said Cazon.

"They felt overwhelmed by this opportunity to be able to listen to all the teachings," she said,

"It's very good and really interesting," said Carol Hardisty after one of the sessions.

Hardisty said she learned how to listen to the experiences of the elders so she can gain their knowledge.

Facilitators at the workshop included Harriet Geddes from Fort Providence, Adele Hardisty from Wrigley, Joe Tambour from Hay River and Richard DuBois from Saskatchewan.

DuBois, who describes himself as a traditional spiritual helper, shared with the workshop participants how people fit into the social, economic, political and spiritual structure of society.

DuBois said it's important to understand traditional elements so you can use them to help you live in the contemporary world.

"It gives you the compassion and understanding of fellow human beings," he said.

During the evenings, DuBois made a number of home visits in the community. He described the process as helping to release pent-up negative emotions.

"It's beautiful because the people are receiving what they are looking for," said DuBois.

The topic of traditional health and wellness is very complex and only the tip of the iceberg was touched upon, Cazon admitted. More workshops will be needed to get all the teachings, she said.

Plans for a second workshop to be held on the land in the spring or summer are already underway.