A new documentary by the Kenora Chiefs Advisory highlights some of the programs they have for the communities they serve, but also the programs offered to youth to deal with the intergenerational trauma of the past.
The Journey Home is a short film that touches on past harm First Nations people and communities have faced like residential schools and children in care.
The 12 minute film also explores programs and services the Kenora Chiefs Advisory offers young people to help heal from the intergenerational trauma.
“We work with them through the trauma they’ve experienced in their life, we help guide them to setting themselves goals of where they want to go, and giving them like I say, opportunities just to have fun you know there’s so much sorrow in our First Nation communities we all know that. And you know crisis after crises after crisis happens in our community you know youth need to have some fun,” said Joe Barnes, executive director of the advisory.
The main focal point of the short film is a youth and family wellness camp that is accessible by all the communities that was purchased in 2021.
“We have rolling hills, we have our own sacred teaching sites where we intend to have bigger events for our kids, we have areas identified for our elders, areas identified for specific teachings with our you know whether it be traditional ceremonies, everything from top to bottom and that space is true healing,” said Chief Lorraine Cobiness of Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation.
“We need people to know that we are here, we are not going anywhere, we know what we’re doing and we know how to participate, focus and take care of our most valuable resource which is our children. Build them up, make them strong. We know what works, what hasn’t worked and sit back and listen, sit back and take notes, sit back and learn from what we know is best.”
Cobiness is also the president of the Kenora Chiefs Advisory, which was started in 1995 and is an alliance of nine independent First Nations within the western region of Ontario. Some of the First Nations include Washagamis Bay First Nation, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation and Wabaseemoong First Nation.
An elder’s council, youth council and the communities collaborate on initiatives. Their mandate is to provide programs and services to First Nations in the field of health, education and social services.
A horse-based therapy program, land-based healing and sports are just a few examples of programming offered by the advisory. Another initiative is the Kenora Makwa Patrol, which provides a range of supports to people in need on a 24/7 basis, including handing out meals and water, connecting and transporting people to additional services, and supporting emergency response by police and ambulance services.
“I think what we want to take away with this is that this is one element of building the structures, the infrastructure and doing it ourselves right. Bringing our kids back to who we are and supporting that going forward but also recognizing that we are never going to go backwards, we are never going to go back to those unsafe spaces where our people were just wrecked,” said Chief Cobiness.