Twelve Weeks to Healthy Living September 25th – December 11th.
On September 13th I welcomed our new OLCN facilitator, Jaeden Carter, our program and research coordinator, Alicia Oliver, and our backup facilitator and community health representative, Lori Lewis into my home for a full day of facilitator training.
Onion Lake Cree Nation applied for and obtained the funding that our program has received for the past two years (2016-2017) from the Alberta Government Recreation and Physical Activity Grant Program. It is our first on reserve program with the first session starting September 25th and ending December 11th. This program is full with a total of 35 registered participants. The next session begins in January so please call Alicia at the Onion Lake Health Centre to register 306.344.2330.
For the past year, the participants have requested the program be moved to Onion Lake to reduce the barriers of transportation, driving costs, time on the road, especially in the winter and childcare issues. Every Tuesday evening at 7 – 8:30 pm the participants will gather at Kihew Waciston Gym for a variety of exercise classes, nutrition education, and a talking circle to discuss health and wellness.
Please see below for the tentative October schedule. The first class on September 25th will include community Elder, Rose Watchmaker sharing traditional teachings on balance and wellness. Our first fitness instructor is an OLCN member and a graduate of the Indigenous Fitness Leadership Certificate, Tara Waskewitch.
Dr. Sonja Wicklum will be attending the OLCN program on October 16th.
I am currently enrolled in university and I will not be participating in the program. My first priority is completing my degree, but I will be offering support to the facilitator through weekly phone calls.
I am also reducing our newsletters to a monthly edition due to my time constraints. If you are interested in weekly updates please follow our Facebook group.
Winter Warmth Donations for the Kids
Two weeks ago I met with a few ladies from Onion Lake to discuss hosting a winter gear fundraiser. Vera, a former WW participant, mother of five children, ages 14, 13, 11, 9 and 1 and a full-time employee at Native Justice tells me there are approximately 1600 kids on reserve. She shares there is an urgent need for winter clothes for kids and demonstrates the vulnerability of these kids through a personal story.
She knows an Elder acting as a guardian for her grandchild and is not getting supplemented for childcare costs. The Elder is surviving on a fixed pension and cannot afford the extra expenses that taking care of a child requires such as new winter clothes.
Another WW participant and school counselor at Eagleview Comprehensive High School, Brenda tells me about the high school kids that fall through the cracks. They are forced to couch surf because their home environment is not safe and their basic needs are not being met, such as winter jackets or boots. The teachers and counselors often buy mitts and toques from their own personal wage and supply them to kids in need. They do what they can to help, but the need is greater than what they can fill.
As I stare out my window today in disbelief of the early snowfall, I think of my kids on the playground without winter gear. This morning at 8:30 am I did not expect them to need winter toques, mitts, jackets, ski pants and boots in September. I imagine all the caregivers of children today that are scrambling to find suitable winter clothing. I also know many kids will be forced to go without, trying to bundle up with multi-layers of sweaters and extra pairs of socks in sneakers.
Vera and I are collecting next to new, new and cash donations for children’s winter clothing. We would like to provide a wide variety of winter gear from baby snowsuits to adult jackets for the high school students. We are NOT a non-profit and cannot provide charitable tax receipts. We can be fully transparent about how we spend the cash donations. In the next newsletter, I will post pictures of what we purchase with any cash donations. I hope by next year we can partner with a non-profit and provide a charitable tax receipt.
We will dispense the needed winter gear through school staff. Any remaining winter gear will be shared at the Women Warriors group on Tuesday evenings.
If you are willing to make a donation please contact me for pick-up in Lloydminster. Shelley@womenwarriors.club.
Vera emailed all the departments in Onion Lake to set out donation bins at their offices.
Please etransfer Vera at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will provide you with a receipt and we will keep a spreadsheet of donations for accountability. Every dollar will go towards purchasing winter gear for kids.
We would like to send a HUGE thank you to Brixton Shoes for their generous donation of winter boots (pictured below).