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The Power Of A NameImage by: Movember
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February 20, 2022

The Movember Program Helping Indigenous Men Reclaim Their Identity

Movember
2 minutes read time

It’s not uncommon to encounter Indigenous men – youth and Elders alike – struggling in Churchill, Manitoba. With some of the highest rates of suicide in the world and insufficient access to both health and mental health services, the men in this small remote town in the subarctic were facing these challenges alone. “Just trying to find their way,” as DJ Knezacek, Bros Group Coordinator with the Churchill Wellness Centre, puts it.

The Churchill Wellness Centre launched in June of 2021 in partnership with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to help provide mental health support, particularly targeted towards local Indigenous populations. With a focus on local land-based skills and social connection, these programs seek to preserve cultural traditions and introduce these teachings to the younger generation.

This past June, Indigenous Knowledge Holder, Ed Azure, and Keeper of the Spirit, Walter (Wally) Chartrand came to Churchill to bless the opening of the centre by building a sweat lodge and conducting a naming ceremony.

" When you’re given a name, you’re given a new identity. We have to know who we are. "

“When you’re given a name, you’re given a new identity. All the trauma that made you who you are up to this point -- we’re turning that off. This is who you are now. Go out. Find Yourself. Leave that pain. That’s how significant this is for these men that were named.”

Today, on Louis Riel Day -- a day that honours a leader of Métis people, who championed Indigenous rights and identity in Canada – we watch the power and sense of self that these traditions bring to this community and its people, “Standing up strong, with our heads held up high as Indigenous men,” shares Wally.

“Against all odds, this community has changed the trajectory for their men. And we’ve just given them the opportunity to make that happen,” says Sonia Prevost-Derbecker, Movember’s Director of Global Indigenous Programs.

To learn more about Movember-funded mental health programs for Indigenous men and boys visit: https://ca.movember.com/impact#/projects/brotherland