Marymound, Land-Based Program Grows with Youth
“Grandmothers and Grandfathers tell us that our children are lost because they have lost their connection to the land and water. The effects of this loss are multi-generational in that it continues to cause harm among our people today with the alienation from a land-based lifestyle,” says Zamora. “Healing for Indigenous youth, children and families is connected to the land and our traditional languages.”
The Indigenous Land-Based Program’s goal is to provide children and youth with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience in land, language and culture to help retain and regenerate land-based practices. This means reconnecting youth to the land and waters and restoring crucial relationships that were disconnected.
The program also reminds the amazing, beautiful, kind and resilient youth about where they come from, who they are, and what their gifts and responsibilities are within the community. This is achieved by role-modeling health, happiness, generation, generosity, compassion, respect and quietness.
Youth at Marymound are reconnecting to the fundamental relationships with each other, the Cultural Mentors, the Creator, the good life, Mother Earth, the medicines, Grandmother Moon, water, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, the eagle, singing, the pipe, the Sundance and the sweat lodge. These relationships are vital life lines that will have a profound influence on the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health of all youth at Marymound.
As part of the Land-Based program, one of the Marymound youth mentors, Raven Hart, connects youth every day to the land as they go out into the bush to harvest medicines and teas to support vitality, health and wellness. “Youth learn that food is medicine and the Land-Based program is revitalizing traditional food systems, including the growing and harvesting of corn, beans, squash and berries,” says Hart.
Wild meat and fish are also included in the many ceremonies, teachings and activities that engage the youth. Medicinal tea, bannock and other traditional foods are prepared over the fire on Marymound’s cultural grounds.
Marymound is committed to supporting the revitalization of Indigenous youth identity and language. As the Land-Based program grows so does self-esteem, spirit, kindness, compassion, generosity and love.
“What we do here are everyday things. It is our goal as good relatives to remind youth that they are a spirit and are supported and loved by their ancestors, and that we are all a part of a big family because this is what will change their lives,” says Elder Wanbdi Wakita.
Founded by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1911, Marymound has helped over 90,000 youth and families in Winnipeg and Manitoba overcome trauma and barriers that enable them to integrate successfully back into the community. As society changes so has Marymound. Through growth and an evolution of caring based on the organization’s founding values, Marymound is meeting the cultural needs and healing of Indigenous children in its care.
Marymound, a leading edge service provider, is blessed to have a vibrant Indigenous cultural program thanks to the creation and development by Marymound’s Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development, Stephanie Zamora. It is the cultural program that brings the gifts of reclaiming culture to youth, families and staff through the land-based programming.
Marymound Cultural Team: (centre) Stephanie Zamora, Director of HR and Organizational Development, and Indigenous Youth Mentors (L-R) Terence Ross, Raven Hart, Ivana Yellowback and Daman Morissette