Honouring residential school survivors and their families is the focus of new programming from the Southern Chiefs’ Organization aimed at healing trauma associated with a number of issues facing Indigenous people in Manitoba.
Residential schools, day schools, the ‘60s Scoop, the child welfare system, and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls have all contributed to first-hand and inter-generational trauma, says Jerry Daniels, grand chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO).
“Time and time again, we hear from our communities that there is an urgent need to expand the range of culturally appropriate, responsive and trauma-informed supports for residential and day school survivors and intergenerational survivors in southern Manitoba, as well as those impacted by the ‘60s Scoop and child welfare system,” Daniels said in a Sept. 1 press release.
Daniels was unavailable for an interview this week due to prior engagements, the SCO office said.
In the release, the grand chief said the need for such resources has intensified since the national acknowledgment of the remains of children who died at residential schools.
The SCO Survivors’ Healing Supports program and the Harm Reduction Land Based Healing Fund, announced Sept. 1, were developed to help Anishinaabe and Dakota people reconnect with their cultures and traditions, the release stated. Both programs aim to improve survivors’ access to advocacy and supports, such as the newly established SCO Mobile Crisis Response Team.
The new initiatives come after the SCO Chiefs-in-Summit unanimously passed a resolution in September 2021 to support permanent, increased and enhanced supports for residential school survivors and a resolution supporting ‘60s Scoop survivors.
Daniels said in the release that he was proud of SCO’s leadership and staff for heeding the urgent call to action for Indigenous people.
The Survivors’ Healing Support program has created a survivors advocate position and, according to the release, has begun hiring a team of liaisons to “assist families interacting with various colonial systems” and to help co-ordinate events and gatherings while providing emotional support for survivors and their families.
A new fund has also been created to support community gatherings and events in SCO member nations, and more funding will be announced in the future that supports community-based organizations looking to offer land-based healing.
Eric Pashe, chief of Dakota Tipi First Nation, said in the release that up until now, western systems have “undermined” Indigenous health systems by separating people from the land, which is both a “healer and a teacher” that promotes wellness.
“I am confident this fund and associated programming will lead to increased wellness for our relatives, especially those struggling with addictions and other mental wellness trials,” Pashe said.
Pashe didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time Thursday.
Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun