Traditional healing program will help combat intergenerational harm, Southern Chiefs' Organization says
New program will treat spirit, body and mind with culturally informed practices
The Southern Chiefs' Organization officially launched a program Monday that it says will help Manitoba's Indigenous communities move forward.
The traditional healers program will use culturally informed practices to treat the spirit, body and mind while also deepening participants' cultural connection, says the organization, which represents nearly three dozen Anishinaabe and Dakota Nations in southern Manitoba.
Knowledge keeper Louis Young, who will be one of the program's healers, says traditional healing is necessary for Manitoba's Indigenous communities to move forward.
"I think many of us developed the feeling that there was something wrong with us," Young told CBC on Monday following a ceremony at the Southern Chiefs' Organization's office.
"It's a deep inner harm."
Strengthening the connection to heritage, culture and land is key to supporting community-wide healing from intergeneration harm, the organization said in a news release, and the program is part of its commitment to provide those it represents with fair and equitable health-care delivery.
By relying on the guidance of traditional teachings the program will fight the lasting impact of colonialism, the organization said.
The announcement of the program comes almost one year after SCO announced it would be establishing its own health authority in Manitoba, a step toward closing the 11-year gap in life expectancy between First Nations peoples and non-Indigenous Manitobans.
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Although the program is already open, Monday was the official launch date. The program began with a ceremony — something that doesn't always happen, but ceremony is an essential part of traditional healing, program lead Justin Courchene said.
The program will offer sweat lodges, sundances, naming ceremonies, pipe ceremonies, water ceremonies and grief/memorial ceremonies as trauma-informed approaches to holistically care for the mind, body and spirit.
Greater access to traditional healers and ceremony can have a large and positive impact on a community, such as reducing suicide rates, problematic drug use and child apprehension, Young said.
"The healing that we need to do begins with spirit," he said.
Traditional healers are anointed by their community. They act as mentors while also providing traditional medicine, teachings and ceremonies for others in the community.
The Southern Chiefs' Organization says it hopes the program will help fight the effects of intergenerational trauma, harm experienced from government policies of assimilation and systemic and institutional racism.