One Woman’s Struggle Built a Life of Purpose
Doris, an Ojibwe woman from The Pas, Manitoba, is a former resident of the Guy Hill Indian Residential School. She was one of the lucky ones. Her time at the school was shorter than most. After only a few years there, she left to attend high school away from The Pas. Nevertheless, she carries deep and everlasting scars from her time at Guy Hill.
The sounds she heard at night, coming from the rooms where the youngest children slept, continue to haunt her to this day. “They sounded like little animal cubs crying for their mothers.” The school is no longer there, but the memories will be with Doris and thousands of others for a lifetime.
Doris struggled through life because of the heart-wrenching events she faced as a young woman. Eventually, she shared her experiences and found strength, and hope through Alcoholics Anonymous. Today, she is able to be present to others, and does all she can to support the people in her community, especially the children.
Doris is a foster mother. Over the years, she has cared for many babies as their parents sought support for their addictions. She loves and provides for these children as her own, before returning them to their parents in much more stable homes.
Like Doris, so many indigenous men and women are working hard in their communities to make things better.
Healing is essential to be able to let go of the pain from the past and move forward. The Pas, Manitoba, is one of the communities where Northern Bridge Community Partnership is already actively engaged. Many more communities need our support. Join Us.
A Community Gets Stronger When Lost Traditions Are Reborn
As an adult, John decided to learn the art of traditional Dene drumming. He was troubled to know the traditions of his ancestors were disappearing. He believed the loss of culture was having a major negative impact on his community.
Music has a way of bringing people together, but for the Dene, who are well known for their drumming, the drumming goes well beyond just entertainment. Throughout the ages, drumming has been used as an important tool for meditation, prayer and healing purposes. It is also a way to communicate with the earth and animals.
To learn how to drum, John began travelling two hours away by boat to the next village, where drumming was still alive. As he continued to learn, he knew that he needed to pass these traditions on to the children.
At first, only a few participated. Now the kids come to drum almost every evening. He is instilling in them the values of their past and also building a stronger sense of community.
One of the central purposes of the drum circle is to create an open environment where everyone can feel welcome and accepted. As a result, the youth are now taking more pride in who they are. You can see it when they drum.
Northern Bridge Community Partnership is committed to supporting John and others who are taking a strong interest in building bridges for a better future. John took this initiative, and, within one year, the lives of many children and their community have changed. These children are not only our future, they are our today.
The traditions of the indigenous people are inextricably tied to the land, cultural practices and spirituality, as well as to their emotional, spiritual and physical health. The importance of this cannot be underestimated.
Tragedy Reveals the Importance of Community
Kayla is ten years old. Her journey through her early years has been challenging. Her mother died by suicide when Kayla was only six. So many indigenous families are living with the impact of lost lives and unthinkable trauma. That’s not the end of Kayla’s story...
Kayla and her father are surrounded by a loving, tight-knit community of friends and family that help support and sustain them.
As part of their healing journey, every year they travel with the entire community on a pilgrimage of hope and renewal, where they are met by a group of compassionate students from across Canada.
At these annual pilgrimages where people and cultures meet, lasting friendships are made, and trust continues to build. As with any authentic encounter, the community, the children, and the students are forever changed.
The future of indigenous communities depends on today’s children. Youth need to be supported, mentored, educated and empowered to develop the skills they need to contribute well in their communities and thrive in the world.