The Culture and Wellness team is a branch of our Community Relations and Solidarity (CRS) department, and is dedicated to creating spaces for Indigenous youth to access programming that nurtures cultural connection and the concept of (w)holistic wellness. We believe that wellness is rooted in a sense of belonging and interconnection to all our relations, through finding ourselves within part of the greater whole. Our programming focuses on Traditional Knowledge, storytelling, land-based education, earth-working and arts-based workshops. We believe that these are the heartbeat and most vital elements for building confidence, a sense of healthy identity and strengthening community relationships.
Our Culture & Wellness Program team:
- Offers responsive, nation-specific programming that values marginalized Indigenous youth experiences and self-determination
- Provides the reclamation of traditional and creative learning spaces for Indigenous youth who hold a variety of identities
- Empowers Indigenous youth through relationship and capacity-building programming
- Connects Indigenous youth to Elders and Knowledge Holders within their own community and across Turtle Island
We provide spaces for youth who hold a variety of identities to engage in cultural knowledge and knowledge sharing. Many of our programs focus on the importance of creating spaces for those who may not feel included in conventional programming environments for any number of reasons. We believe that everyone’s bundle carries significance.
This is important because Indigenous traditional ways of knowing always focus on strengthening the whole community, and this can only be done when no one is left behind. Spaces designed with particular Indigenous youth needs in mind increase connection and engagement and allow us to support one another in more meaningful ways. In some situations, this may mean that this is the first time a participant feels seen, acknowledged and celebrated for who they really are.
Cultural Practices and Language Revitalization Programming
Our In Motion series is based on relationality, how we connect to “all our relations” and the moving pieces of the relationships we hold with all living things. We tend to all that surrounds us, with care, love and understanding. We learn to see each other and all living things as having a story — one that is deeper and connects us to a web of ancestral histories and future paths. Our teachings also remind us of the cycles of change and always being in constant movement. To be “in motion” is to understand that our actions influence the world around us, seven generations back and seven generations forward.
Our in-motion programs aim to reflect these teachings by showing us a way forward through generative and inspiring workshops and seasonal storytelling that reminds us of who we are.
Two Spirit Cultural Revitalization and Wellness Programming
Two Spirit Regalia Skills Program was developed to provide a culturally specific space for Two-Spirit youth to learn beginner skills in a patient environment and make their own regalia. Our programs arose from the feedback of focus groups and consultations with Two-Spirit community members of diverse identities and nationhoods throughout 2020-2021. During these sessions they expressed the need for more inclusive spaces to access culture, ceremony and regalia making. Our program addresses cultural safety by hosting a space that acknowledges the need for:
- Safer virtual programming during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Respect and privacy of Two Spirit community members who are presently navigating identity and personal safety
- A closed facilitation space that is mediated and trauma-informed
- Peer-led spaces designed by and for Two Spirit voices