Fall 2017


‘Honouring our Elders’

Waseskun celebrated the Fall Equinox with a Change of Seasons Ceremony on September 20, 2017, with many guests in attendance, including CSC personnel, community partners, and several Elders. The theme of the event was Honouring Our Elders and many Elders from CSC institutions participated, honouring us with their presence.

Waseskun celebrated the Fall Equinox with a Change of Seasons Ceremony on September 20, 2017, with many guests in attendance, including CSC personnel, community partners, and several Elders. The theme of the event was Honouring Our Elders and many Elders from CSC institutions participated, honouring us with their presence. 

A delicious lunch Feast followed, with all residents, staff, and visitors eagerly partaking. The food served included BBQ bison sausages and salmon cooked by our residents on the gril in our newly constructed outdoor kitchen. During the feast, Waseskun honoured Ed Menard and gifted him an Eagle Stick for the incredible service he does for our community by supplying and delivering logs for our sawmill. This enables our residents to mill lumber and then use it for building garden sheds and other products and special projects for sale outside of our community (see accompanying article). One of our residents, who was to be leaving us on the following day, gave a short speech and was honoured by our Helpers for his excellent work on his healing. 

After lunch, the important discussion from the morning’s Elders’ Circle continued and deepened, and simultaneously, a workshop on Honouring our Medicines was conducted by our Elder, Dennis, and one of our Helpers, Bryan, for guests to be enriched from their knowledge and experience. A Tour of Waseskun then followed for interested guests. 

The Equinox Activities concluded with a Sweat Lodge for staff and visitors, with one of the honoured Elders, Al, pouring, and some other honoured Elders participating as well. Simultaneously some residents played Lacrosse with Barry, Waseskun teacher, on our field nearby. 

It was a very special, powerful day and the beginning of an important collaborative networking process to facilitate better helping Native offenders to move easier through the corrections system, while working deeply on their healing, making positive changes in themselves and learning tools to equip and prepare them for their successful social reintegration.        


By: Chad Diabo, Helper

As part of the activities of the Fall Equinox Celebration 2017 ‘Honouring Our Elders’, Waseskun hosted a Gathering of recognized Elders and Traditional Helpers from many institutions across Quebec and Ontario. Our goal was to give them the opportunity to talk and share about their experiences working with CSC and for the inmates they serve and help.

We were honoured to have present Dennis Nicholas (Waseskun), Al Brant (Bath, ON), Robert Bourdon and Johanne Parent (La Macaza, QC), Jean Stevenson and Delbert Sampson (Cowansville, QC), Steve McComber (CFF, QC), Charlie Commando (CFF Min., QC), and Gilles Kovacs (Donnaconna, QC). These respected and renowned traditional teachers had a lot to say. 

A summary of one Helper’s position was “CSC needs to understand what they ask for, when they want us to teach traditional knowledge. We don’t teach sound bites, we have to be true to our teachings and teach all the parts of it.”. 

Another Elder expressed a desire for more collaboration with administration and wardens, and more open leniency to scheduling ceremonies and teaching/healing sessions. As well, having guards having more appreciation of what ceremony is and how their support would help the healing process. 

Overall, the Elders were in agreement that one sit-down like on this day, was not enough. An Elders’ Gathering of a few days would go a long way in improving a cohesive delivery of their combined knowledge and, the healing journey that the inmates need. 

This session of our Equinox Celebration, the most sought-after event, gathered 40 liaison and parole officers. These participants were instructed to listen and not ask questions; this truly was a Gathering for our teachers and Elders to talk and share. We look forward to hosting other such events in following years.       


During our Fall Equinox celebrations, an Eagle Talking Stick, made by one our residents, Roger, was given to Ed Menard as a high honour for what he has done for this community. It is a symbol of great respect in appreciation for what he has given to the Waseskun Community and for all the wood he has supplied over the years.  

In Roger’s words:

“Mr. Menard has brought wood to us to help us grow and help the Community learn to use that wood in a proper way. He brought the wood that we used to make a totem pole a couple of years ago and now it stands in the front of our property and has great meaning for us. Ed has clearly shown that he cares for our community and we care about him. We feel he is more like a brother to us than just a person from the outside.” 

Ed Menard started collaborating with Waseskun around 20 years ago. He has a woodcutting business and from the trees he fells, he has an excess of logs; so he brings them to Waseskun. Waseskun uses the wood for a variety of projects, including carving sculptures and totem poles and milling the logs for use in our saw mill to produce lumber. Once dried, the lumber is later used for building projects and special orders, such as garden sheds, for sale to Waseskun staff, collaborating partners and members of the outside community. Waseskun also cuts and splits some of the wood that Ed brings for fire wood to fuel our Sweats and, sometimes, to supply some of the nearby prisons. 

Originally, many years back, it was only about fire wood and Waseskun would pick the wood up from Ed. Years later, Ed started to deliver logs for sculpting, including the pine log that has become the Totem Pole at our front entrance. It was Ed that first suggested the benefits of Waseskun having a saw mill and a few years ago we procured on, with which we have been milling own lumber ever since, using the logs that Ed supplies. 

Ed donates all the logs to Waseskun and this gives the opportunity for our residents to gain experience in milling the logs and later using the lumber for small building projects, providing a way for them to make some money as well. 

When Ed comes up, he doesn’t just drop off the logs, he also talks with guys and answers their questions when they ask for advice. He takes the time to listen to residents’ stories as well, and this creates a strong bond between them. When Ed meets and discusses with Waseskun residents and staff it makes him feel good. At the same time that he sees this helps the men in their healing, Ed feels that he himself gets healing as well, by feeling satisfied that he has done something good to help. Ed feels that he his fulfilling some of the dreams he has of how to deal properly with people in society. He has always had a soft spot in his heart for Natives of this country. 

Ed comes here to help everybody out. He feels a part of the society here at Waseskun. He hopes that everyone profits from what he does, because he profits too. Waseskun is one of the special places he comes to visit, where he always feels great when he leaves. He feels satisfied that he not only helps the guys physically, but mentally too. There is nothing artificial about it. They talk about feelings and the realities of the people’s existence. 

Ed feels that the staff at Waseskun should feel a lot of gratitude for the work they do, helping support the residents in their healing. Ed has a lot of respect for the people, both staff and residents, that he has gotten to know over the years. 

The wood Ed supplies is an essential resource for the community and Waseskun appreciates it very much. Ed does too, and he often comes to participate in our Ceremonies, such as Change of the Seasons. It is always great to see him; he is part of the Family! Thank you Ed!          



Each year in Quebec, every city and town put on free events for the public to attend, highlighting different aspects of Quebec culture during Les Journées de la Culture (Culture Days). This year, the municipality of Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, where Wasekun is located, chose the theme of Indigenous People and Waseskun was invited to be featured within the activities held between September 29-30.

Two Waseskun residents and one staff member went to the town community hall on Friday afternoon, Sep. 29, to decorate with traditional objects and set up craft tables and displays. We stayed during the very well attended lecture given by Serge Bouchard, one of Quebec’s leading anthropologists, who gave a stirring talk on the history of contact between the Europeans and First Nations, complete with facts about the treacheries and broken promises made by the former 

On Saturday, September 30, we were a larger group of four residents and two staff members participating in an afternoon event where Waseskun was specifically featured. Again, we had our traditional decorations and crafts on display, with many members of the public making purchases. The residents drummed and sang for the public, and they loved it! Some people, including children, took turns joining in on the big drum. 

Following this was the main event: the screening of the Waseskun documentary, a frank and raw exposé of Waseskun residents deep in their Healing process. After the screening there was a question period with the film maker, Steve Patry, staff and residents. The public were very moved by the film and very respectful questions were asked with some of the participating residents openly sharing inciteful and emotional answers. 

The Mayor of Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez was in the audience and he shared “that in the eight years he has been Mayor he first knew of Waseskun as a prison, and now look, it is the focus of Journées de la Culture.” He emphasized that Waseskun is an important part of the SaintAlphonse-Rodriguez community. We were all very happy and felt honoured. At the end of the afternoon, many members of the audience came to greet us, including the Mayor who gave each of the residents a hug.      

Waseskun – DVD

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has just released the Waseskun documentary on DVD. Filmed in 2014 & 15 by documentarist Steve Patry, Waseskun was released in theatres in Quebec in Fall, 2016. Now it can be purchased from the NFB by phoning: 1-800-267-7710, or you can order it online:


ID NO. 153C9917006
Duration: 81 min 2 s


by Akwirente Bryan Deer

One night in October as Helper Chad Diabo drove home, he came across a deer hit by a vehicle lying on the side of the road. He pulled over and messaged me and asked If I would like to pick up the deer, possibly salvage some meat and get the hide. I answered ‘sure’, got the location and headed off.

We drove down and picked up the deer. It was a doe. She was probably a two- year old deer and around 250 lbs. We knew the doe was rather fresh kill as, Chad and I passed this location an hour or so earlier, no deer! 

We loaded the deer into my truck. The following morning, we gathered a group of residents to come down and skin the deer. There were some guys who have done this before and went right to work. One or two came along to learn how to skin an animal as they have never done it themselves. The guys had a good time and commented that this was one of the traditional skills that they wanted to learn here at Waseskun 

The hide was removed and immediately frozen for future use, the four (4) feet were also removed for future crafts. The carcass (meat) was all properly disposed of. 

The story of this hide will continue in a future newsletter, as it will be scraped and the fur removed. It may end up as rawhide and made into a drum or tanned for leather.      


Elder, Bill Constant was present throughout this year’s Fast and presided over the ceremonies, ensuring that all ran smoothly and everybody was well taken care of. He shared with Waseskun Circle his views on the importance of fasting and what he saw on this year’s fast, October 3-6, 2017.

Bill feels that Waseskun plays a very vital role in the personal development of the men. As a Nation of people, we are very grateful for places like Waseskun because when you help a man you not only help them, you help the Family and Community as well, and this helps the Nation. Each man that gets help creates a whirlpool effect to help the whole Nation. We can’t turn our backs on men that have hardships in their life. Thanks to everyone who is helping each of the men each on their journey. 

The Fast is a time for someone to sit alone and be one with the land and ask the spirit of the land and the animals and the Creator to help them be a good human being. Whether you are or not in a place like Waseskun or out in Communities we all recognize that fasting is a very sacred time to ask for help with ones’ life. Native people have been fasting since time immemorial. It is almost like a right of passage and a very spiritual time for each person. 

It was quite a good thing to be a part of the fasting with the clients, to be able to be there with them to help them with their reasons for being there and to listen to them and share with them and support them as they fast. I know where to help the men greatly in their own personal life. I saw that each of them took the Fast to heart and were sincere in what they were doing. To witness that each of them was able to complete what they wanted to do was very special. It was an honour to be part of that journey with them. 

Bill was extremely proud of what he saw with the fire-keepers. They were very helpful and committed to helping the men in what they had to do. He also saw that the Helpers, Chad, Bryan and Normand, were very dedicated and committed to helping them men and he was very encouraged to see that. It is good to see the care and compassion that the staff and workers have toward the men. 

The men that stayed at Waseskun to take care of a Sacred Fire that was lit to be connected with the Fasters, took this job seriously for 24 hours a day. They prayed and helped out the men from where they were at Waseskun. These prayers and the Spirit of that Scared Fire helped the men out at the hill where they fasted. 

Bill is gratified to see that Waseskun is doing so much for the men to enable them to do what they need to be doing in their healing and recovery. Ultimately, Bill felt very honoured to be part of the healing time that the men were experiencing during their Fast.        


 Jerry is Algonquin from Kitcisakik. He has 5 children and grandchildren as well. His alcohol addiction has landed him many times in provincial prison, but this last time got him incarcerated in a federal penitentiary, due to an accumulation of unpaid tickets related to alcohol.

Jerry wound up in a halfway house in Amos and he wanted to participate in a closed therapy, but those offered up there were for only one month and he knew that this would not be long enough. So, he decided to come to Waseskun and when he arrived he immediately felt welcomed by the natural environment and by the fact that he was participating with other Natives. This was conducive for his healing and gave him the inspiration to be able to talk and share. The environment is very important to him because that is what normally surrounds Jerry – the forest, Nature: it is what he sees around him. This makes him feel good. 

Since being at Waseskun Jerry has talked a lot about his alcohol addiction and the fact that it has caused him to often be homeless and on the streets. There is always a reason that makes one consume alcohol and in Jerry`s case it was the residential schools that were the cause. He was in residential school between the age of 7 and 14. Jerry always used to refuse to talk about this subject and what he experienced, and he believes that this has had a major impact on his children. Now Jerry wants to take responsibility as a parent. 

There are other Waseskun residents that also passed through the residential schools and this makes things easier for Jerry because he understands them well. They can share about the fact that they were forced to be far away from their families in order to be taught “white ways” and all the impacts that this caused for them. At Waseskun Jerry has been able to talk about his wounds and it is getting easier for him to freely open up and share. His confidence is coming back as well. 

Jerry realizes that all the dreams that he had when he was a young child disappeared once he reached the age of 7 because of residential school. Today, Jerry’s children ask him a lot of questions that he doesn’t have answers for: Why does he drink all the time? Why does he like alcohol so much? Why did he stop hunting, seeing as he loves it so much? Jerry feels that his sense of connection with Nature was slowly and completely destroyed. He had received so much humiliation. The people that he associated with in his community were all people who also suffered in residential schools; so, to get along together they followed the same pattern – they would mistreat each other. One doesn’t know why one does this, but we continue to follow the same pattern. We wake up one morning and realize that this is not the way we want to be. One fine morning Jerry woke up realizing that residential school had a major impact on his life. 

Currently, when he goes home he receives a lot of love from his children; they all see him now like a real father. He does too. They want to spend time with him and they are even able to tease him, which he didn’t like before. Now, Jerry is able to laugh. 

Jerry’s children are proud of the changes they see in him. He is no longer a silent father. He takes the time to talk with and listen to them. He thinks a lot about them and they are conscious of this. They all care about each other, but it’s difficult being far way, hindering family connection. When Jerry visited his grandchildren the last time he was home, they cried when they saw him. They have confidence in him. When it was time to leave they said, “my grandfather is a hard worker”. 

Jerry, on being Fire-Keeper at the Fast

Jerry participated in the Waseskun Fast in October as the Fire-Keeper. He has been a FireKeeper before for sweat lodges, so he already knew about the basic responsibilities, but notthe specifics related to the Fast. He took his role very seriously. In doing this, he reconnectedwith the teachings. He prayed for the Fasters and for himself as well. Jerry shared withthe Elders and asked questions and tried to retain as much knowledge as possible. Today,he understands much more about respecting the teachings. Jerry was responsible for theSacred Fire at the Fast and he tried to feel his connection to it to send strength to the Fasters.He really appreciated his experience very much. To live this type of experience as a Native isone thing, but to practice it is another. What Jerry loves more than anything is his connectionwith Mother Earth and all that it teaches him.        

Robert, on his experience fasting


My name is Flying Fire Rock Man (R.M.) from Ontario. This was my first Fast and it was agreat experience. Alone in the bush, listening to nature and praying, and having a SweatLodge every day. I did learn more about myself and what I wanted for my life once I leaveWaseskun.’  

Cook-Out to Thank Waseskun Residents

Waseskun residents work hard, not only on their own personal healing journeys, but also in being positive and helpful members of the Waseskun Community. For residents this includes performing Community responsibilities, and in particular, the Community came together beautifully in preparing for our Fall Equinox Change of Seasons Ceremony: Honouring Our Elders.

Not only were the Waseskun grounds looking immaculate for the Equinox and was everything well prepared for receiving all our guests, the residents also did a fantastic job in making a special individualized gift for each of the Elders that we honoured on that day, September 20, 2017. 

As a way of acknowledging their dedicated, caring and quality work and to thank them forit, Waseskun staff had a cook out lunch to honour our residents on October 11, 2017. Staffmembers cooked hamburgers and hot dogs for the residents on the Bar-B-Q in Waseskun’snew outdoor kitchen and served the delicious lunch complete with chips and soft drinks. Itwas a lot of fun and the residents really enjoyed being attended to and recognized for theirefforts. They truly deserved it! Job Well Done!!   


Two (2) community members were chosen to represent the RCCTF in collaboration with the Waseskun Healing Council.

The committee’s mandate is to develop community projects that will generate income for the RRCTF. All residents will have an opportunity to participate in expressions of their culture through arts and crafts and other mediums. As well, they will be able to generate personal income to assist in their social reintegration.

We are currently fundraising for the RCCTF that is in need of tools, materials and other supplies. The traditional programs at Waseskun promote knowledge, skills and a sense of personal well-being that is important in the healing process. There is a lot of talent at Waseskun that cannot be seen to fruition due to lack of funding and resources. Residents that have positive ways of cultural expression through their arts and crafts bring positive energy to all our spirits. 

As healing can’t be done in isolation, we would like everybody to be a part of changing the paths of residents who seek constructive and creative outlets with moving ahead on their healing journey.     

Any contributions of funds, tools (new or used), materials, etc… would be greatly appreciated.We invite you to visit to our website www.waseskun.net and to contact us via the emailaddress listed on the website, or call (450) 883-2034, and ask to speak to M. Michel Talbot.If you require a tax receipt, Waseskun is a registered charity.

Kenneth Boose Normand Ladouceur
RCCTF representative RCCTF representative


By Michael F.

Michael is a Case Manager at the Waseskun Healing Center since Sept. 8th, 2014 after working in a federal institution as a contract worker for close to 4 years.

Since he was hired, he learned the ropes of the position that brought him to meet many people, which for the most part, were enriching on a personal basis as well as on an intervention level. 

Having studied in psychology and working at a Youth Center as an educator with young people having had criminal offenses or having been victims of neglect, he was able to notice the weaknesses that the parents had, most probably having been themselves victims of family violence or abuse of all forms. Armed with this information, he now understands the men that arrive at Waseskun lacking self-confidence, lacking knowledge of the social interdictions amongst other things. Without excusing the offences committed, a troubled past can definitely explain the ways an individual who is devoid of tools that are normally offered to children during their growth, the ways he thinks. 

According to him, as it is necessary for a doctor to know his sick patient’s past in order to find the problem, it is important for these men to share their story so that they can make links on what really happened and, understand the impact that this had on the adults that they became. By verbally disclosing what they went through during their childhood, the residents come to get rid of the burden that weighed them down, while enlightening them on their delinquent actions. 

As a Case Manager, Michael welcomes new residents upon arrival at the Center and, accompanies them throughout their stay. He does this by being present for them when they have administrative procedures to complete or, simply by answering their questions concerning the management of their current healing. He likes to discuss with them but says that when comes the time to write a report, he hopes that his writing skills will be made easier by the effort and the implication of the resident in his healing. 

As a Case Manager, Michael welcomes new residents upon arrival at the Center and,accompanies them throughout their stay. He does this by being present for them whenthey have administrative procedures to complete or, simply by answering their questionsconcerning the management of their current healing. He likes to discuss with them but saysthat when comes the time to write a report, he hopes that his writing skills will be madeeasier by the effort and the implication of the resident in his healing.      


Faithful to a tradition that has been Waseskun’s for many years, Halloween was celebrated exceptionally on Wednesday, November 1st. As always, during this day, the residents played along by dressing up in costumes/makeup which is also part of a contest. Many of them also participated in the pumpkin carving contest. 

The fun the residents had was palpable. Every year they participate in large numbers and put in a lot of effort and imagination towards winning the prizes that were offered (baseball hat and socks representing ‘our dear Boston Bruins’) generously offered by Helper Chad Diabo, as well as many canteen vouchers. These prizes were attributed for the best costume and the scariest costume, as well as for the best decorated pumpkin. Many residents participated in good faith and, with great pleasure! The winners were chosen by acclaim. 

This year, the respective winners were: Keith for the best costume and John Peter for thescariest costume (see pictures). On the pumpkin-carving side, about twelve residentsparticipated in creating the best pumpkin and, they had lots of fun. The winners were alsochosen by acclaim and the 1st place went to Sanny and 2nd place to Raymond. As it should,the whole day was well complimented with soda and all kinds of candies and goodies and, ourCook prepared a lunch filled with special items that represented well this celebration! Thisconvivial and fun day was an all-around success, as our guests from Sagamok witnessed! Itis always a pleasure to celebrate theses holidays with our Residents!    


On November 1, Waseskun received a visit from Sagamok, an Anishnawbek community in Ontario. The visitors were part of the Sagamok Community Justice Program and they came to visit Waseskun as one of the field visits in their process of exploring the possibilities of opening a healing lodge in their community.   

They had a great time touring Waseskun, meetings with staff and residents and having lunch with us, on one of our special activity days – Halloween! In gratitude of our receiving them, the Sagamok guests presented Waseskun with some lovely gifts, including a framed collage of tradition artwork, sweetgrass and a little plaque with the name of their community. The gifts were presented to one of our Helpers, who was wearing a Halloween mask, making for a fun, if somewhat odd photo op! 

It was an informative, interesting and fun visit with strong links being forged between Waseskun and Sagamok. 


An interesting alternative is offered to you, Natives of all Nations, who are serving a period of incarceration, either in a Provincial or Federal institution, and who wants to change a negative or incompatible behaviour(s) that led you to the correctional system. This applies to a first offence or for a case of recidivism.

It’s at Waseskun Healing Center that you can find the Red Road of Healing. Waseskun, going by its name, designates the moment after a storm where the clouds start to part, revealing the first rays of sunshine and the blue of the sky. It’s the place where you can reconnect with the calm, serenity and harmony that are needed for success with your therapeutic project. 

Many of you demonstrate a real will for making changes in your lives but do not know how to make them or where to start and you could really use help. Why could Waseskun Healing Center help you? 

Waseskun is a Native organization, managed by Natives with Native therapists, that know where you come from and that are better equipped to understand and visualize your life path. It offers a removed and natural setting in the countryside that is conducive to healing. It also offers you a bilingual environment where residents from different Nations rub shoulders harmoniously and in a courteous manner. Each resident has an individual room, which is conducive to reflection and rest. 

The Waseya Holistic Program integrates the 4 dimensions of the Medicine Wheel in order to harmonize the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects. It presents the components that will meet the resident’s needs, no matter in which order they are. It also favors a return to culture with traditional ceremonies and activities (Sweat Lodge, Sacred Fire, Change of Season ceremonies, Fast, etc…). 

A dynamic and experienced team will welcome you and will help you write a healing plan that is adapted to your situation and your specific needs. You will also participate in maintenance work and other work under the supervision of the Waseskun team, in harmony and camaraderie, which favors team work and collaboration. 

In all cases, healing does not occur by itself or through a miracle. Your healing should become for you work and focus for each and every day. You should devote time and energy to it. The success of your therapy is directly proportional to your implication and participation; you are responsible for your own success.          

If you are interested in receiving our newsletter or in collaborating please contact us. If you wish to submit articles, stories, photos or other information, we will do our best to include your contributions in a futur publication.
The WaseskunCircle
1 Waseskun street
PO Box1159
Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez (Qc), J0K 1W0
Tél. : 450 883-2034 Fax : 450 883-3631

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