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


My visit to the Splatsin community

In January I had the pleasure of spending several days with Splatsin community. Don and Deanna were wonderful hosts and I enjoyed the landscape and my time with community members. In particular, it was wonderful to see the creativity and energy that has gone into programming. The Splatsin Teaching Centre is a remarkable hub, filled with activities, ranging from small children to elders. I was lucky enough to attend a session of the Culturally-Based, Family-Centred Mental Health Promotion for Aboriginal Youth. There are few things that make this job more worthwhile than seeing and hearing from people on-the-ground how they are benefiting from and enjoying the program. Thank you to Splatsin for including me.

Joshua Moses, Project Coordinator


Deanna Leon from the Splatsin team shares some photos from the programme’s first graduation ceremony! While she is working on her blog post about the event, here’s a look at what the evening was like, with comments from Deanna. Thanks Deanna and Raven for the amazing photos!


The feast prepared by Erica and Kristi. Roast Baron of Beef, oven baked potatoes, vegetables, ceasar salad, buns, gravy and amazing cakeand cupcakes! (photo by Deanna)



The feast – we celebrated by having a dinner together surrounded by cedar boughs – to honor the youth and families. (photo by Deanna)


The Splatsin team: Co-Facilitator Jody Leon, Lead Investigator – Dr. Raven Sinclair, Facilitator Don Bennett, Elder Julianna Alexander. Missing Deanna Leon -Coordinator. (photo by Deanna)


All of the participants and their families were blanketed with Pendelton Blankets. One of the highest honors we can give. Participants were honored for participating for 16 weeks as part of a program that teaches them how to be stronger as people, stronger as families, stronger in their culture, stronger communication and decision making skills. They did a tremendous amount of work and self reflection. These families and youth are our future for a better tomorrow! Congratulations ♥ (photo by Raven)



It was great so see how hard the youth worked and their commitment to completing the program. Here is Maddie B, Craig B, Meagan B and Dallas B. So proud of you guys… our future leaders 🙂 (photo by Raven)

The Cardinal Clan – Candice, Vanessa C. Phoenix C and Orin C. Way to go!! (photo by Raven)


The drummers that honoured the youth and families and their achievements. Councillor Randy Williams, Bart Thomas, Julianna Alexander, Kukpi7 Wayne Christian and Marlene Squakin. (photo by Raven)






Weytkp !

Weytkp ! from Splatsin Territory in Enderby BC

We are pleased to report on our progress on the project that we began during the last week of September. We just wrapped up session #8 this week after having to postpone the sessions over the past two weeks due to funeral services that occurred in the community.

After the first few sessions, we found a nice routine that was enjoyable for all the participants. It was clear that the highlights for everyone were the great food followed by traditional stories told by our elder, Julianna Alexander. Everyone jammed onto the circle of couches and were swept away with the tales of Coyote and Bear, and various other characters from the past. Our stories have been followed by weekly traditional Secwepemc words that Julianna teaches us how to pronounce (the first being the greeting: Weytkp, as seen above).

Elder Julianna Alexander arranges some of the prizes for the participants

We have been getting great feedback from our participants and it is clear that both youth and parents are eager for the Wednesday night sessions to come around each week (the parents reported that there were a few disappointed youth when we had to postpone the sessions recently). Perhaps part of the excited anticipation is for the great food, prizes, and great company. It didn’t take long for the name tags to be unnecessary as we quickly familiarized ourselves with each other through the activities and the thoughtful discussions each night. We have a very diverse group in ages, ranging from 10 to 17 with our youth, but despite the spread in ages, it is working out wonderfully. Our parents have been eager to share their stories of successes and challenges in their roles as parents. We have had some great moments where families report moments through their weeks where they successfully applied skills learned in the previous week in their daily lives.


The facilitators meet outside of the session times each week on a fairly regular basis each week as we make final adjustments and changes as needed and continue to compensate for the missing resources (games, puzzles, videos, etc) that are used in the original program. We also gather an hour before our 5pm start time to make final preparations, room set up, create the chart paper outlines and review traditional words, and of course, brew some coffee for the parents…. or perhaps more for the facilitators.

Splatsin family and youth participants with facilitators

We will complete session #9 next week and then break for the holidays and return in January for a busy three weeks as we plan to do two sessions a week to catch up on the missed sessions before our targeted final celebration and evaluation throughout the week of Jan 21, 2013.

kukwstsétsemc (thank you) for reading!
from the Splatsin Team: Julianna, Jodi, Deanna, Raven, and Don

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