Healing and empowering families was on the agenda for the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Embrace Life forum that took place March 7-8 in Thunder Bay at St.Paul’s United Church.
NAN Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic said the focus of the gathering was healing and also to show people “new ways to take active responsibility for their own lives and the lives of others through proactive decision making and individual family responsibility.”
Kakegamic explained that the forum was in no way about pointing blame for any issues affecting NAN communities, but to empower those communities into taking responsibility over the health and wellness of their community members.
The forum was designed to help First Nations families develop life skills and strategies for their journey to healing. A press release issued by NAN reiterated the fact that the forum was not a political issue and wouldn’t be seeking retribution for injustices against First Nations people.
“The families in NAN territory must be revitalized and empowered to retake their rightful place as the central, most vital institutions in our First Nations so we can achieve the spiritual and moral turn-around to help heal, grow and strengthen our communities,” Kakegamic said.
The two-day event included musical performances by The Kakepetum Brothers and Fresh IE, and guest speakers Jim Keesic, Don Simmonds, Huntley Street, Jerome Harper, and Pastor Roma Fisher.
A variety of different workshops took place that were geared at empowering students, strengthening parenting skills, preparing healthy meals, raising social awareness, teaching traditional wisdom and culture, and providing family counselling.
Kakegamic explained that empowerment comes from awareness and skill development, which he said is critical to enabling youth to overpowering the sense of hopelessness while they are trying to live positive and productive lives.
I am so tired of losing people I am only in my late 40s but it seems as though most of the people I grew up with my age and even younger are passing away...