Winter is coming – how to stay mentally well during the dark season amid a pandemic


The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on people in the eight months its had the world in its grip and First Nation, Metis and Inuit people are not excluded.

From canceled gatherings and ceremonies to feelings of panic, the grief and isolation is like nothing anyone has experienced before in this lifetime.

But Dr. Barry Lavallee, a Saulteaux Metis physician based in Winnipeg says to maintain our mental well-being, we need to remember – we’ve actually done this before.

“Pandemics and epidemics have occurred for 500 years in our communities as a consequence of colonization and people bringing in various viruses,” Lavallee said. “ This is not unknown to us, even though historically very few might not have seen a pandemic.  This is a known thing for our communities across Canada.”

As winter downtime approaches and many areas remain in some stage of lockdown while others see that on the horizon, it’s normal to feel a heavy weight.

But he says staying connected to the land and community is imperative. Get outside, call a friend, pop by to leave a little something on a neighbour’s doorstep, stay in touch with family – all will help mental and emotional balance.

Watch the full episode for more advice and to hear from our relations at the Navajo Nation who at one point were the COVID hotspot for all of the U.S. – how they’re doing now.

Plus Phillip Ducharme of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business checks in with how Indigenous businesses are faring through this pandemic – the good and the bad.

Host/Producer - Winnipeg

Melissa is a proud Red River Metis and award-winning journalist who has spent more 14 years covering crime, courts, politics, business and entertainment for newspapers in four provinces.
She then joined APTN Investigates in 2009 and APTN National News in 2018 and in that time has garnered numerous awards and nominations including from the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (2013), Canadian Association of Journalists (2016, 2019) and Canadian Screen Awards (2018, 2019).