Frank Hope has always taken a dene approach to healing work, rooted in reciprocity and relationship building.
That’s why he’s followed up with community members Łutsel K’e, Northwest Territories after the First Nations’ wellness worker identified the need for grief and loss support.
“It’s the people that that make it [workshops] come alive,” Hope said. “We can come in and have a program developed and agendas developed, but we go with the people where they’re at.”
Frank and his wife Beverly are both trained as trauma specialists and have worked in the humanities field for decades.
Their business Shakes the Dust Hope Consulting, an Indigenous wellness company, takes them across denendeh.
“It’s allowing people to say what they need to say, and we just listen,” Hope said. “And we set these guidelines within the group, because when someone is sharing something very personal it takes a lot of courage.”
Flyers are posted and radio ads are placed ahead of time to inform community members of the multiday workshop.
Sheldon Yamkovy Lockhart, a participant and mental health advocate from Łutsel K’e told APTN News he felt the workshop created a space free from judgment.
“I met Frank a couple about of years ago. We had an incident where a local member passed away from suicide and he came into our community to offer men’s health, healing workshop,” said Yamkovy Lockhart.
“They [Frank and Beverly] are really nice people and that’s what you want to gravitate towards.”
Łutsel K’e, N.W.T. is home to roughly 300 denesuline.
As an isolated and dry fly in community Lockhart said there’s a need for addictions and mental health support.
“There’s no before care as you’re waiting for treatment and then there’s no aftercare. So, to have that type of mental health therapy in our community, is really helpful,” he said.
Yamkovy Lockhart recently took it upon himself to start a weekly public mental health sharing circle.
“Even though there has been low interest in it, it will grow. That low interest may have to do with people’s own mental health, you know trauma, holding them back and fear of the unknown,” Yamkovy Lockhart said.
And to encourage others he knows he must lead by example, take care of himself and learn traditional teachings.
“As Indigenous people, as dene people, we have all those inner and external resources within us already and this is where we talked about the sustenance of the land,” Hope said.
“The land has always given us and helped us.”
More than 28 years into his own recovery journey from addictions, Frank said he passes along the tools he’s learned to self-regulate.
“It’s very rewarding, coming to a community and especially where you have built up a relationship over the years.
We’re always very humbled by working with people,” he said.