Saskatchewan

Mistawasis First Nation memorial round dance a healing journey

Four years after her husband took his own life, Joanne Durocher is honouring him with a round dance on the Mistawasis First Nation — with an emphasis on healing and suicide prevention.

Joanne Durocher's husband took his own life in 2013, this is 4th and final year for her to honour him

Joanne Durocher is choosing to honour her husband's memory with a memorial round dance on the Mistawasis First Nation on Saturday. (David Shield/CBC)

Joanne Durocher says she was so inspired by a former co-worker sharing his own story about loss and his healing journey that it prompted her to organize a memorial of her own.

"I was so empowered," Durocher told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition. "I just felt so strong and I felt like I can overcome this."

Durocher said she is on a healing journey of her own, four years after her husband took his own life. She said traditionally, people are honoured for four years after death.

Her husband died in 2013 and 2017 marks the fourth and final year for her to honour him. Her chosen memorial is a feast, give away and round dance. 

Some time before he died, Durocher had a dream about her husband's death while she was away at work. She called him, crying, and told him about the dream.

"That's a powerful dream," she said, adding it was the first dream of its kind she had had about him.

Durocher said she had the same dream again, days before he died.

"The spirit is so strong — and I do believe our spirit tells us stuff prior to things happening."

She said the hardest thing about that whole experience "was telling the in-laws their son passed away," she said.

"That was the hardest thing for me to do."

Durocher's talk with her former co-worker, and the connection she felt, left her wondering how she could help others going through the same thing, she said.

She recalled how the man talked about the impact his own loss had on his family and how the talk came at a time where she was making her own personal changes in life.

"To connect with somebody with a story like that ... For him to share that story with me was very uplifting and encouraging and I was just so inspired," she said. 

She said suicide "is an epidemic in our communities" and to share stories of healing is empowering.

The round dance will take place Saturday on the Mistawasis First Nation and will focus on healing and suicide prevention. 

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition

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