FORT ST.JOHN, B.C. — Doig River First Nation organized a three-day healing workshop this past weekend to support people struggling with grief and loss through traditional Indigenous practices.
The three-day Healing Along the River workshop took place from July 14th to 16th at the Doig River gymnasium.
During the healing workshop, a variety of topics were discussed related to grief and loss, such as reflection, mental health, and counselling during depression, addiction support.
Councillor Garry Oker said First Nations have been subject to trauma and subjugation because of colonization, and many Indigenous people suffer from unresolved trauma.
“Sharing personal experiences of trauma is an act of healing for our communities,” said Oker.
As a part of a healing team at the workshop, Tina Fraser, a professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, shared her story of grieving after the death of a family member and the healing journey that worked for her. She explained that her Indigenous cultural identity was crucial in dealing with suffering.
Fraser says these workshops aim to create togetherness, especially in times of adversity for First Nation communities.
“We have to be proud of our Indigenous roots and learn our traditional language, which can guide and heal our sufferings,” said Fraser.
She said for Indigenous people, they have to understand suffering through their traditional knowledge.
“Through our Indigenous ways of knowledge, we could heal and channelize our ancestor’s spirit, which makes us stronger as a community,” said Fraser.
Oker said it’s important for Indigenous youth to portray their ancestors as idols to revive their culture and identity.
The Doig River councillor also shared his journey and credited Indigenous art and music to his healing while encouraging participants to pursue the arts to understand the world better.
The workshop included an Elder’s prayer, traditional drumming, and participants sharing their personal stories of grief, with the healing team guiding them to understand their emotions.
Another Healing Along the River workshop will be held in the Doig River gymnasium from August 18th to August 20th.
Oker hopes the workshop gives hope to the community members in difficult phases of their life.
“I believe that we have the potential to overcome adversity and create a culture of revival of who we are as Indigenous people.”