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Kuujjuarapik Trip, Winter 2016

This post is co-authored by Amanda Chalupa and Eli Oda Sheiner, team members at the Montreal site of the Listening to One Another program.

Amanda and Eli at the inuksuk

Amanda and Eli at the inuksuk

This March we had the opportunity to visit Kuujjuarapik, a vibrant Inuit community located in Nunavik, on the coast of Hudson’s Bay. Working in partnership with the Tasiurvik Family House, we travelled to the community to explore the possibility of adapting the Listening to One Another program with the local Inuit community.

We arrived by propeller plane on a Wednesday afternoon and were immediately struck by Kuujjuarapik’s sunshine and crisp winter air. We were greeted at the airport by Sarah Fraser, a researcher partnered with the Tasiurvik Family House. Making our way through the snowy town, we were greeted by friendly faces and kind words. Along the way to the Tasiurvik Family House, we met Caroline, an Elder and core member of Tasiurvik, and her nephew. At our destination, we received a warm welcome from Maria, the Tasiurvik coordinator, and Jeannie, a community member currently attending college in Montreal. Later that day, we were given a tour of the town by Jennifer, another core member of Tasiurvik. She showed us local highlights, from docks on Hudson’s Bay and the community arena, to the community fridge and the giant inuksuk.

Amanda and Maria

Amanda and Maria outside Tasiurvik Family House

Over the course of the next days, Maria, Jeannie, and another new friend, Vanessa, of Youth Protection Services, taught us about their community and connected us with Elders and locals who could help us adapt our program materials. One of the first lessons that we learned in Kuujjuarapik is that food brings people together. So, it should come as no surprise that many of the meetings that followed took place over a meal. Speaking with Elders who came to eat and talk with us at Tasiurvik, as well as a home-visit, we learned about how the most senior members of the community lived as children, and how the town has transformed over the course of their lives. One of the Elders, Willie, invited us into his home to tell us the story of Kuujjuarapik. We sat cross-legged on the floor watching attentively as he looked into the distance as though looking back in time. We were also privileged to see his childhood toys: various bones preserved from his youth that represent different characters.

Throughout our stay, community members shared incredible insight about local strengths and challenges, helping us understand the context that contributes to some of the struggles that youth deal with on a day-to-day basis and how to go strong together. Elders also offered wisdom to help youth and families get back on their feet and stressed the importance of values such as forgiveness.

Our stay concluded with a brunch at Tasiurvik. Young and old alike enjoyed a meal and fun times together, including painting, drawing, games, playing music, embroidery, and the joys of simply being together! Jeannie and Ray, members of the core team, joined in to share their valuable insight. We look forward to continuing the conversation, perhaps next time in Montreal!

Walking around town in Kuujjuarapik

Walking around town in Kuujjuarapik

Meeting with local role models of all ages, we got a sense of Kuujjuarapik’s strengths. With continued teamwork and a shared vision, we’re hoping that Listening to One Another can be a platform for some of these role models to share their talents with the local youth. We met community members who travelled huge distances on foot to raise awareness for different issues, learned about athletes who represent Kuujjuarapik at the Northern Games, and heard stories about talented hunters. We got to know, among the people we met at Tasiurvik, throat singers and gifted clothing-makers, embroiderers and beaders. We met soapstone carvers, skilled cooks, and community champions. The diversity of talent in Kuujjuarapik was truly impressive!

Since our return, we have kept in touch with our new friends in Kuujjuarapik and at the Tasiurvik Family House. In the months to come, we hope to continue our collaboration with community members and co-create a program that reflects and responds to the community’s goals. We are grateful for the kindness and hospitality shared by the Kuujjuarapik and Tasiurvik community.

Til next time,

Amanda and Eli

October 2015: Trip to The Pas and Kenora


I’m happy to be featured here as a guest author on a blog post. After a summer devoted to improving components of the Listening to One Another program, I had the opportunity to travel to The Pas, in northern Manitoba, and Kenora, in northwestern Ontario. Together with our very talented coordinators Ron (at the Cree Nation Tribal Health Centre) and Sheila (at the Kenora Chiefs Advisory), we discussed new additions to the program with our local facilitators and organized the technical, behind-the-scenes elements that allow the program to run smoothly for local youth and their families.


The author of this guest post, pictured on the shores of Clearwater Lake. Photograph by coordinator Ron Cook

In The Pas, I spent a few quality days working side-by-side with Ron, who taught me all about the local scene as we shuttled between the various Cree Nation Tribal Health Centre offices and local businesses, compiling supplies for the three Swampy Cree First Nations delivering the Listening to One Another program in the region. On Thursday, October 1st, Ron and I hosted the facilitators from all the partnered communities in the region and brought them up to speed on some of the exciting changes we’ve made to our programming.


The Cree Nation Tribal Health Centre, where we ran our training session for facilitators in The Pas

The next week, after a brief stay in Winnipeg, I was in beautiful Kenora, with Sheila, our regional Anishinabe coordinator. The two of us conducted our meetings while Sheila tended to her ceremonial responsibilities at the Grand Council Treaty #3 Fall Assembly, taking place in Whitefish Bay. The Fall Assembly provided the perfect chance for Sheila and I to meet informally with many of the Chiefs and Health Directors from the six Anishinabe First Nations that are delivering the Listening to One Another program this fall. New acquaintances were “all ears” to learn about our program, and excited about the prospect of introducing it to their communities.


Warren White, the Grand Chief of the Anishinabe Nation in Treaty #3, exchanges a feather with NDP leader Tom Mulcair at the Fall Assembly.

After a productive couple of days at the Fall Assembly in Whitefish Bay, Sheila and I welcomed some of our facilitators to the new Kenora Chiefs Advisory facilities and discussed improvements to our program. We received a lot of positive feedback from the facilitators, which we are eager to integrate into future material for the Listening to One Another program.

In the coming month, we look forward to the inauguration of another year of the Listening to One Another program. I’m really fortunate to be working with so many enthusiastic people and communities.

-Eli Oda Sheiner



Meeting with Knowledge Keepers and managers (August 2015)


At the end of August, knowledge keepers, health centre managers and researchers reviewed the evaluation and the content of the 2015-16 Facilitation Manual.

Swampy Cree Team meeting in Winnipeg

June 2015. The Family program ‘Listening to One Another’ was presented to school and local health centre representatives by Dr. Laurence Katz who has been working with the Swampy Cree Team for many years. Some of the program’s facilitators were also part of the audience. Attendees participated to a group discussion on ideas for reaching sustainability.

SC Team June 2015


In addition Dominique Geoffroy, the project coordinator, discussed with Mr. Garry Munro, Director of the Cree Nation Tribal Health Centre in The Pas, Northern Manitoba. He indicated that the OCAP principles should be included into the research agreement that is to be signed by partners this summer. The OCAP principles ensure data Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession to First Nation partners.

Dominique also met with the regional coordinator, Mr. Ron Cook, who was asked for his feedback on:

  1. The new coordinator’s workbook
  2. The new Phase 3 Team Report Template, which contains guidelines and checkboxes for recording progress.

A cultural adaptation of the program is continuously in progress: to create a new puzzle that will be given to youth participants during the next Swampy Cree program, volunteers draw their version of the Culture Tree. A committee had the difficult task of selecting only one of the drawings.

Puzzle Christopher

A new 5 X 7″ puzzle
Christopher’s drawing will be scanned
and turned into a puzzle


Another example of the drawings: The “Tree of Knowledge”, a brain-shaped tree that was created by Gloria.

Tree of Knolwedge June 2015

Beginning from the roots
and feeding the branches
The stream will flow
collecting information
To continue growth


Puzzle Fred

Fred also draw his version
of the Culture Tree

Thank you to all participants

Kinanâskomitinâwâw/ ᑭᓇᓈᐢᑯᒥᑎᐣ



May 2015: Meetings in Kenora, Ontario

Carla, Carolyn, Rudy and Clara from the Anishinabe Team

Carla, Carolyn, Rudy and Clara from the Anishinabe Team

On May 20th and 21st 2015, Dominique, the project coordinator met with several Anishinabe Team members at the Kenora Chiefs Advisory in Kenora, Ontario. Facilitators gave us good ideas to improve the program: for example, we might need to update the facts included in the Jeopardy game, which youth play in Session #11. To improve the delivery, they suggested having all the videos available on both DVD disks and USB keys. Then, the meeting continued on the following day; facilitators answered the community Health Directors’ questions about the program; they graciously shared their past experience about the project.

 The picture was taken at the Kenora Discovery Centre.

The picture was taken at the Kenora Discovery Centre.

The major change in Phase 3 concerns the regional coordination of the program delivery. It was previously the responsibility of researchers, but now the Indigenous Health Centre staff will take on the torch. In order to ease the transition, a new tool is being developed: the coordinator workbook. It was presented to Colleen and Donna, two team managers working at KCA.

May 2015 Kenora Lake


Thank you to the KCA staff for their warm welcome: Sherry, Donna, Colleen and Alice. Thank you also to the Health directors for their participation: Grace, Cathy and Bernadette. Finally, thank you to the facilitators and Board members: Irene, Cathy, Rudy, Carla, Clara and Carolyn for their constant support and their work promoting family wellbeing in this beautiful region.

Listening to One Another Annual Conference

March 2015, Montreal QC

In March 2015, more than 20 research partners from across Canada – including Secwepemc, Swampy Cree, Anishinabe, Innu, and Mi’gmaq First Nations representatives – attended an annual meeting in Montreal. Our objective? To share learning and feedback for Listening to One Another, a family-centered program that promotes wellbeing for Indigenous youth.


Kukwtsétsemc Juliana (Thank you Juliana)!

Both indigenous and non-indigenous protocols were observed; for example, Elders shared opening prayers in their native language before the meeting. A traditional gift of colorful pouches filled with tobacco – a sacred offering – was given to us by Juliana, a Secwepemc Elder.


Each First Nation group presented highlights from their Team Report.

The Team Report features key research steps including partnership, cultural adaptation, implementation of the program, and evaluation.


Innu and Mi’gmaq representatives with Audrey, Quebec’s coordinator.

Throughout the meeting, partners shared information about the impact of the Listening to One Another program, informally (pictured) and via Talking Circles (not pictured).


Young singers and drummers performed for everyone.

We learned that both youth and their parents really appreciated the 14-session program, especially the cultural components.

Screen Shot 2 blog6

We also learned more about each other!

In meeting breaks, participants shared delicious meals in downtown Montreal (pictures). At the Native Friendship Centre, Kwe Kwe Gourmet served us delicious and healthy food (not pictured). Niá:wen Tiffany and Tia from Kahnawake)


The Swampy Cree Team from Northern Manitoba

As the Public Health Agency of Canada is funding the project for the next three years, the program will continue to be delivered by our current partners. Additional communities and new regions will join the project in the next phase as well.


Kukwtsétsemc, Yerí7 skukwstsétsemc (Secwepemc)
Kinanâskomitinâwâw/ ᑭᓇᓈᐢᑯᒥᑎᐣ (Swampy Cree)
Migwetch (Anishinabe)
Tshinashkumitin (Innu-aimun)
O’wela’lin (Mi’gmaq)
Merci (French)
Thank You!

Thank you to everyone for your participation!

The values of the Sacred Tree

At the Culturally-Based, Family-Centred Mental Health Promotion for Aboriginal Youth project’s team meeting in May 2014, all present Team Members were asked to look at a drawing of the Anishinabe Sacred Tree which was used in the Anishinabe version of the programme. The drawing showed the Sacred Tree with different values written on the leaves. We asked our team members to choose one value and tell us why it is important to them.


Beginning Group 2, looking ahead

Work in the communities is going very well. We have enrolled 33 families in the program across all four communities and to date have successfully completed the program with 23 families. Three of our four communities have finished post-tests and we are now beginning the Group 2 program with just over 20 families. Depending on summer schedules, we may finish with Group 2 families this summer or the communities may decide to finish in the Fall after Summer break. We are waiting to hear from the three community groups how they want to move forward over the summer months, but we anticipate completing Group 2 by October at the latest.
At UNL and UMD, we are currently in the process of developing new generic materials that can be used by various communities to adapt the manuals. Our hope is that these new manuals will continue to evolve over time for use with different communities and age groups, and for different purposes and in different venues.​ These materials include:
​1)    A New Training Manual
​​​​a.     Seven chapters on the program, facilitating, ethics, and data collection.
2)    An Updated Facilitator Manual
3)    Updated Parent and Youth Booklets
4)    A New Activity Booklet
​​a.     Includes examples and ordering information for weekly activities.
We have planned our next team meeting for June 27-28 where we will bring all of our staff, facilitators, and advisory board members together to collaboratively complete our team report and make recommendations for the sustainability plan of the program once the project ends in March 2015. We look forward to sending updates and sharing electronic versions of the new generic manuals after our next team meeting!!

Team meeting 2014

It’s been great to have the MHP team all together in Montreal for our team meeting, our first since October 2012. Of course, our coordinator Dominique has been in constant email/telephone contact with all the teams in Canada and the US but there’s nothing like meeting face to face!

MHP team meeting

Ron, Melissa and Devan

Laurence welcoming the group

Laurence welcoming the group

The two days kicked off with an update from each team.

Anishinabe – gearing towards sustainability
Devan Crawford and Melissa Walls shared the progress of the Anishinabe team. Of all the communities running the programme, there were a total of 33 families participating in the last round, with 23 families graduating, an excellent result! However there are some challenges too, in particular finding facilitators has been difficult.

Devan talked about their team’s strong desire to make this project sustainable so that other communities in the future would be able to run the programme themselves, using a complete “how to do it” document. They hope to provide all the materials to run the programme including a manual and parent and youth booklets for free online. These documents would be editable and ready for different communities to adapt the programme to their own culture. All activities listed in the manual would be optional and would come with a list of suggested alternates so that the programme is truly flexible and adaptable to each community’s needs and available resources. They would also like to set up a peer system where communities who have already completed the programme can be available to provide advice for new communities starting out. There is a strong desire to keep this project going, and not to let it end once the funding runs out.


Devan showing a board game developed by one of the communities

Québec – a new community interested in the project!
The Québec team was represented by Patricia Montambault, Karen Gobeil and Arlene Laliberté. Patricia shared that she and her colleague Audrey Vézina from the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) will soon be meeting with a new Innu community in Northern Quebec. They will review the program and the evaluation process with interested local members.

Also in Quebec, a second round of the program will begin in September in Gesgapegiag, a Mi’gmaq community. In the meantime, the local team is planning to improve the cultural adaptation by producing new material.

Swampy Cree – finding programme champions
Lawrence Katz and Corrine Isaak from the Manitoba team spoke about the rewards and challenges in running the programme in the Swampy Cree communities. Two communities have completed one round, one group had three graduating families and the other had four families. Currently there are other communities at various stages of the programme.

Recruiting and retaining facilitators is the most difficult part of running the programme. Many facilitators have full time jobs so they are fitting their work as facilitators in as a second job.

Ron Cook as the liaison between the University and the communities travels out to visit all the communities and provides support for the facilitators. Some communities are very small so finding ten families that fit the programme criteria is a challenge. However, for the families that do attend the programme the feedback has been very positive. In one community the families are getting to know each other better, fostering a closer knit community and there was a blanket ceremony as part of the graduation session. Word of mouth spreads easily through the small communities so team members stressed the importance of finding champions of the programme.


Corinne and Lawrence

Splatsin – changing the way we interact at home

Raven Sinclair showed the group a video of stills from the second round of the program. It was great to see the families smiling, playing, working, and enjoying being together. Feedback from participants have been wonderful, with some parents in particular stating how the programme has changed how their families interact with each other at home. To watch the video, click here.


Raven and Lawrence enjoying the video of participants from the Splatsin community

As the project is coming to its 4th year, the aim is to standardize the ‘Team Report’ across sites. Much of the meeting covered a section-by-section review of the evaluation process.

The team lunched on delicious and nutritious food provided by Kwe Kwe Gourmet from Kahnawake.


some delicious venison pie for lunch!

As a wrap up after lunch on our last day, we passed around an image of the Anishinabe Sacred Tree that was used in the programme by the Anishinabe communities and asked all team members to choose one value from the Tree they felt was the most important to them (strength, patience, discipline, etc.) and why. We’ll have the results up very soon, it was great to hear the diversity of answers!


Team meeting photo: Dominique, Raven, Patricia, Laurence, Ron, Lawrence, Karen, Sophie, Corinne, Devan, Melissa

Till the next meeting!

Dominique and Sophie


Manitoba Update March 21, 2014

PHAC Family-based Project

We continue to move along with the PHAC project in the Swampy Cree communities.

We are pleased to share that one community (Chemawawin) has completed all 14 sessions with 3 families and a second community (Moose Lake) will complete next week also with 3 families. The Moose Lake facilitators are planning a blanket ceremony where additional members of the attending families as well as Ron Cook our Tribal facilitator will be invited (we are hoping to get some photos of this event).

Other communities are restarting after somewhat of a hiatus due to facilitator schedules, illnesses, community issues etc. Grand Rapids will restart next week at session 9 with approximately 7 families. As well Sapotaweyak has recently restarted with 4 families at Session 3 and 4 this week. Communities who are restarting are finding that having more than one session per week is most suitable for families and facilitators.

The community of Wuskwi Sipihk is hoping to start sessions very soon with 3 families. This community continues to experience setbacks and difficult circumstances.

Finally, new facilitators have come on board and have been trained in Pukatawagan and Opaskwayak where they are in the recruitment stage each having approximately 5 families interested in participating in the program.

To date we do not yet have any of the follow-up surveys completed in the communities although we continue to encourage facilitators to complete these with the help of Ron Cook.

Corinne Isaak

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