Spring 2018


‘Our healing journey helped us to understand how the power of the universe will come to your aid if your heart and mind have become one.’


My name is Kevin Tikivik, I am a new Helper here at Waseskun Healing Center.

The main job of being a Helper at Waseskun is to help residents walk on the path of their Healing Plan. The groups I plan to facilitate are directed into creating increased awareness and access to cultural practice, for all indigenous people.   

I grew up in the surrounding area of what is known as the Qikitaaluk region, in the Nunavut Territory. My home settlement is known as Iqaluit, the Capital city of Nunavut. Growing up, I was raised by my Grandfather and did not learn much English until I was approximately 12 years old.

My greatest goal in life is to help with the consolidation of the contrasting realities between traditional people and western society. This covers many areas, such as the question of Healing practices.  

Thank You, Nakurmiik,
Kevin Tikivik


It takes a lot to keep a healing centre going year-round. On a regular basis, we have sweats and traditional ceremonies going on in the spring, summer, fall and winter. In three seasons of a year it is relatively easy to get the supplies we need to run these ceremonies. However, in the winter, it takes a lot more effort to get these same materials.

At Waseskun Healing Centre, we do not let the weather or even deep layers of snow stopus from getting what we need to keep the healing happening. In some of the pictures, youcan see residents working side by side their Helpers to go on the land and get grandfathers(rocks) for the sweat lodge and other materials that are needed.

Many times, this past winter, we put on our snowshoes, and hiked into the wilderness to collect materials and continue our traditional teaching to the residents of Waseskun.  

On one occasion, I had residents share how to cook in the bush. We set up a camp and they self-taught each other how to start a fire and rig up wooden spears to cooked strips of marinated moose meat. All the residents on the land that day, enjoyed themselves and ate their fill of that good meat. Some, who are self-described city ‘Indians’ learned some valuable lessons from their fellow Native and Inuit brothers on how to survive on the land.  

The winters in Quebec may be cold and filled with many feet of snow, but the Helpers at Waseskun are committed to getting the residents out year-round, to learn and grow as men. The weather is just another obstacle to overcome; with a little hard work and motivation we get things done.  



by: Brian Sarwer-Foner, Liaison Officer

As we did in Fall 2016, and February 2018, Waseskun once again suspended regular programming (Healing and Talking Circles within the various Components of the Waseya Holistic Healing Program) at the beginning of June 2018 up until the Summer Solstice, in order for residents to work on their healing through cultural practice under the Waseya program. 

Many residents involved themselves with preparing hides, working the grounds, planting the garden and finishing Waseskun’s Longhouse, which was begun in Fall of 2016. Working on the Longhouse involved putting up bark covered planks (from the first cuts of logs processed through our sawmill) all over the traditional Longhouse frame that had already been established. These planks were attached to the sides and roof of the Longhouse.  

As the photos show, the work is progressing beautifully. There is still further work to do for waterproofing the roof and finishing the insides, so the Longhouse can soon serve as a Cultural meeting place and Medicine lodge for the Waseskun community.


We have had the opportunity to process many different hides here this past year. We haveprocessed 20 plus hides into rawhide. These are from deer, moose, and buffalo. From therawhide state we can make drums and other crafts or turn it into leather at a future time.Since the beginning of our relationship with Wildlife Dept. we have received a variety ofanimals.  

We have processed three deer hides with the hair on. These are hair on one side and leather on the other. These make excellent table coverings or wall hangings.   

We have processed a coyote as well; we will process the two bear skins when we have determined the proper method we will be comfortable with.

Hopefully will be making buffalo robes in the near future, in a traditional way.


When a coyote was delivered, two residents were selected to process the animal and conducteda tobacco ceremony to honour the spirit of the animal. They skinned the coyote, fleshed it andstretched in a board to dry. 

Several week later the hide was washed in water until water was clear. Then it was placed ina pickling solution of vinegar, coarse salt and water. It was left for several days to set the hairto the hide. It was then rinsed and dried. Once dry it was brushed out. 

This was then first time many residents had seen such a process from start to finish, asmost would sell fleshed out skins, to someone who would tan the hide. There is a potentialincreased income for the guys when they return home to sell tanned hides for a higher pricethan a raw pelt.  

Black Bear Number Two

 We here at Waseskun were fortunate enough to receive a second black bear. This was dropped off by the Roads department, at the request of Quebec’s Ministry of Forest, Wildlife and Parks.

Upon delivery, a tobacco ceremony was conducted for this bear by our Elder for the spirit of the bear, and a traditional Inuit water ceremony was conducted by our new Helper. This was to honour the bear and to release its spirit back into creation.  

The residents then began to skin the bear and fleshed the hide. We were not allowed to consume the meat, but we did harvest the fat.  

The fat was rendered that night to make bear grease. The hide was placed in the freezer, so it could be worked in the future.


We have been very fortunate to be building a working relationship with the local Bison (buffalo)Farm. This past month we received 2 buffalo skulls to prepare for the owner. We startedcleaning the skull and then went to bury it for one year. When we unearth it next year, we willreturn to the owner.

In exchange for doing this we given two (2) hides. We fleshed the hides and placed the hidesin a solution to remove the hair. They were then stretched out to dry. We have not decidedyet if we will make drums with the rawhides or turn them into leather.  

In the future we are looking forward to further arrangements with the owner. In the works isWaseskun receiving the skull and hide the day they are killed for the meat. This way we canalso remove the brain as well to start the traditional process of brain tanning, both for buffalorobes and leather.  



Sanny is an Algonquin from Lac Simon and he has lived there for 47 years, ever since he was young. He has seen a lot of violence, sexual aggression, and drugs in his community. He was raised mainly in the woods and spent a lot of time in Nature when he was young up to the age of 9, when he started school. His father taught him how to trap and hunt, but he never taught him what was right or wrong in terms of behaviour.  

Sanny started drinking alcohol at the age of 10. He would drink beer, wine, anything. Sanny would always feel good whenever he returned to the bush. He would hunt and trap and did so until age 15. He then started to work tree-planting. At age 18 he started work in construction. He had his first son when he was 23 and had 3 other children in the following few years.   

Sanny served time for 15 months for a sexual aggression when he was 23 years old. He was verydrunk at the time of his crime. He was charged again when he was 42 and spent more time insideand went right back to drinking when he got out. He was always off and on with his girlfriendthroughout this time. He often got in trouble for breaking his conditions due to drinking.    

Today, Sanny takes responsibility for all the problems in his relationship, including his drinking,his crimes, and his going away to jail. He hit his girlfriend on one occasion and he never didit again. He would leave the house when he went drinking to make sure he wouldn’t be drunkin her presence. He is still together with her and tries to be good partner and good father tohis 4 children. While at Waseskun he speaks often to all of them on the phone. He has a goodrelationship with his children. One of them lives in Maniwaki now and he looks and is so much likehis father, a mini-Sanny. He is proud that his children look at him positively today.  

Since being at Waseskun Sanny has changed his thinking. He has been helped by the medicinehere and by the teaching and guidance of the Elder and Helpers. Sanny knew he needed helpand he has asked for help. He has worked a lot on his problematic issues, particularly his sexualoffending, through the programs offered here and today he feels good in his skin.   

Sanny has often served as Firekeeper for the sweats at Waseskun and this has helped him a lot. When he has gone into sweats he comes out on all fours and feels very dizzy, so he participates by being of service and he is proud to take on this responsibility of being Firekeeper. He learnt from Elders how to make the Sacred Fire properly. He wants to continue in this role when he’s back home in his community. Sanny would like to participate in a Fast sometime. He arrived at Waseskun just after our yearly Fast was held last summer.

He mainly worked on his emotions during his time at Waseskun. As well, he worked a lot on his mentality and this was helped by actively sharing with other residents. When he first arrived here, he didn’t talk much, but over time, bit by bit, he started to open up.

Sanny has lost different family members, while he was at Waseskun and the grief of this was an added challenge to his healing process. He received a lot of support from the Waseskun community and had special ceremonies performed for him by the Elder to call upon his ancestors. This helped him very much.

Sanny is facing a big problem with his alcohol abuse. He cannot ever drink otherwise he’ll fallback into his addiction. Back home many of his friends and family drink and Sanny has to tellthem not to when they are around him upon his return. If he slips up he’ll go back inside fora year to a year and half. It’s a big consequence. His family all say that they will help himand do their best not to tempt him when he gets home.  

Sanny says he has made many mistakes in the past and this has caused emotional and mental suffering for others close to him. This pains him, because he is not a man who wants to cause harm. He has an easy going, happy spirit; he is not mean-spirited. His sexual aggressions were only performed when he was drunk, and this is the main reason why he never wants to return to alcohol.  

Sanny seeks to repair damage with those he has hurt though his crimes. Some have forgivenhim, while others said that they do not. He has to make his peace with this and accept it ifsomeone close to him does not forgive him. It is all part of his own personal healing.

Sanny has heard guys complaining about Waseskun in prison, but he ignored them, because he knew they were not capable of following the rules. If you follow the rules you can do very well here, he says. He has really liked being at Waseskun and all that it has to offer.  

Sanny has learned that if one wants to progress in healing, that one has to work very hardon themselves. One needs to have a very good sense of one’s mentality and not play aroundwith one’s emotions. He has learned that emotions can very quickly flip and change, and thatone needs to understand this and not get taken by surprise. When emotions change, oneneeds to take a step back a reflect to make sure that the emotions don’t fly out of control.

Sanny has learned that taking time out and taking a walk is good thing to do before he saysanything in response to something that someone said that bothers him. This lets him thinkabout what was said and to reflect upon it before he reacts, avoiding escalation and preventingsomething hurtful being said back to someone. He has learnt how to do good reflection andhow to work with his breath as well, in order to regain calm and not let his emotions flip.

He learned a lot through ceremonies with the Elders, how to think and act in a good way. Now Sanny expresses how he feels and he is good in his skin, so what he expresses is always positive.

Sanny would like to come back to Waseskun to participate in the Fast and he would like to make a donation of sturgeon and moose meat to give back for all the help he has received while being here. He would like to give a big thank you to Waseskun and all the staff for helping him find the real Sanny.


While he had only a few months or weeks to go before his hearing for a Full Parole, resident Sanny P. had the idea to request an escorted outing that would allow him to go to the Buffalo Farm which is located approximately 15 minutes away from Waseskun Healing Center. Since he had never seen a wapiti in his life before, he was hoping to have the opportunity to see one before his Full Parole and upcoming departure from the healing center.

The center’s Healing Council, as well as CSC granted him the outing that was falling underPersonal Development (for Traditional Activities) category and the resident was finally able toappreciate this animal in person, accompanied by his Case Manager.  

Because the owner was busy with a few of his animals and the veterinary, he allowed us towalk along the trail that lead us to buffalos, but also to the wapitis who did not hesitate tocome and feed off the hand of the resident. Every time the buffalos would move away everytime we got near them, the wapitis were increasingly curious, were watching us and wouldcome to us to be pet by the resident, who in turn was happier than a fish in water  

Even though the outing was short, it allowed the resident to see his wish granted to see these animals before he left and, will surely be a very memorable moment for him-he even seemed to be ‘exchanging’ with them as he was feeding them.

A few days after his outing, the resident was met by the PBC (Parole Board of Canada) and finally got his Full Parole, which in turn allowed him to go back to his community where his family was waiting for him and, to whom he’ll be able to share his visit at the Buffalo Farm and his experience with the wapitis. 


Waseskun was very sad to learn that Joe Mell, one of our founding members, passed away atage 86. Joe served on Waseskun’s Board of Director’s since its inception in 1988. Amongstthe many and varied charitable causes Joe was involved with, he was well known for his workin helping children in Pointe-Saint-Charles, one of the poorest communities in the Montrealarea. He made many things happen, including raising money for children to be involved in avariety of sporting activities and forming community teams for them to join for free. Joe alsoworked hard to help men on parole get back on their feet upon their release from prison. Thisinitiative helped with Waseskun’s establishment. He was, in addition, a founding member ofthe Crossroads half-way house (St. Leonard’s Montreal). The community will dearly miss him.


On Saturday, May 19, 2018 four Waseskun residents went out with staff volunteers to participate in Environment Day activities in the Municipality of St-Alphonse-Rodriguez. Waseskun had a craft table set up for the event alongside the tables representing various community organizations and services. Everyone had a great time! Some good sales of crafts to the public were made, residents helped distribute compost from the municipality to the public, and two residents sang some traditional songs with their hand drums for the attending public. A small crowd gathered to listen, and the people really enjoyed hearing the songs.


As was mentioned in a previous article, plans were in place to continue the garden into 2018. On March 12th, we started the process of planting the seedlings for the new garden. Several residents were on hand to start this process. We asked for residents, who were in the spirit of planting, to be part of this team to start the seedlings. All who partook in this activity, did so voluntarily and on their own time. 

Following the traditions of the Mohawk people, each person present laid down a gift of tobacco to start the planting, with the best of intentions. This has long been the tradition of Native people, using tobacco to take your prayers and intentions up to the Great Spirit. In this way, we bring our minds together to achieve great things.   

Building on the collected knowledge of some senior residents, we started all the seedlings in greenhouse containers containing a high quality Promix, potting soil. We hope this investment will result in good healthy plants for this year’s garden.   

We started with planting the seedlings for this year’s tobacco plants. Combining the tobacco seeds from last year’s harvest and other seeds that the helpers collected, we are hoping to grow hardy tobacco plants. This medicine is essential to a lot of the healing work done at Waseskun. Along with the tobacco, we also planted zucchini, eggplant, butternut squash, lettuce, iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, beef steak tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, basil, thyme, peppermint, coriander, oregano, rosemary, chives, sun flowers, marigolds, and zinnias.

We converted parts of building No 6 – the wood working shop, to become the full-timegreenhouse for the seedlings. All the seedlings you see in the picture, started as simpleseeds and have now grown into the plants you see. We will keep you updated, with the 2018garden, as it takes shape and grows this summer.  


by: Brian Sarwer-Foner, Liaison Officer

On June 5 Waseskun received a visit from a team from Archambault Institution, consisting of Parole Officers (POs), a Manager of Assessment and Intervention (MAI), the Assistant Warden Intervention (AWI), the acting Director of Aboriginal Initiatives, Quebec, and the institutional Elder. They all work together in the newly organized Aboriginal Intervention Center (AIC) where all new Indigenous offenders are sent.

The visitors were given a comprehensive tour of Waseskun and then had a meeting with Waseskun staff, featuring one of our Helpers presenting the details on how he runs his program component within Waseskun`s Waseya Holistic Healing Program, and our Elder explaining how we work with the medicines and the role that ceremony plays in the Healing Process.

The Visitors then had a Circle with some Waseskun Residents and were then treated to a couple of drum songs to honour them. Some of the Visitors joined the residents at the drum for a third song after.  

It was great pleasure to receive our visitors and we look forward to working closely with theteam at AIC to facilitate interested and good, motivated candidates from Archambault to beable to make their way to Waseskun and join our Healing Community.    


Kwé kwé,

My name is Normand L. and I am from Mohawk origin. My spiritual name is ‘gray father wolf’ and, just like my mother, we are part of the Wolf Clan. Before coming to Waseskun, my life had no direction. I had difficulty managing different situations that I was faced with. With the spiritual and traditional programming that is offered at Waseskun, I had to go deep in places where I was afraid to go so that I could find out what was wrong.

Since I have done that, I am not the same man that I was before coming here. That beingsaid, to succeed I use at least once a day one the seven teachings from our ancestors. It isevident that if you want to come here, you must be ready to work on yourself to follow yourhealing path. We have a saying here that says, ‘We are not healed, but we are healing’. Ilike this proverb a lot. During my healing journey and, to help me relax, I discovered a littletalent that I use to manage many stressful situations, for example when I have worked hardon myself during programs that day. In the evening I like to go to the Wood Shed to do somewoodburning. It helps me relieve stress and work on my patience. Woodburning requires alot of patience- something I didn’t have a lot of before I got here. And I didn’t have any inmy previous life either.  

Since I have established myself in a way of life, the best decision I made in my life is to come here.


As boys we had dreams and aspirations to commit ourselves in a good way. Since then, we continue to learn what works and what keeps us from achieving that harmony in life.  

Here at Waseskun, we as a community have a chance to aspire and redirect ourselves in a good way. To achieve this harmony that our community deserves, we must learn to walk well in the paths we have taken. To apply ourselves in a progressive way, we must look deep into our center, identity and healing. Within the grounds of Waseskun I try to apply myself as a brother, guide and helper. With this in mind, I walk with our community towards a healing journey.  

If you have been frustrated and lead by hardship, Waseskun is a safe spaceto begin a practice of healing. Waseskun can help you begin to remembertraditional ways of life; furthermore, if you have been absent in your culture, you have a chanceto learn traditional tools and adapt in that translation between you and your relationship to life.

“Learning to love yourself is a good start”

Kevin Tikivik



Dean has been at Waseskun for a little more than two months. The main issues he has been working on while at Waseskun are emotional traumas, healing of the mind, spirituality, and mentality, following the quadrants of the Medicine Wheel in order to restore balance in his life, so he can live a good life. There are childhood traumas he is facing.    

 Dean was abandoned at a young age and didn’t realize what love was all about. He was a victim of a pedophile who offered him money and alcohol in exchange for sexual favors. After going through this, Dean went heavily into alcohol and drugs. He started sniffing solvents as well, at a young age.

Dean suffered with feeling abandoned by his father. He cried a lot and missed him but didn’tknow how to deal with the pain. When he was 12, Dean’s mother went to college, oftenleaving him alone with his two sisters. He took advantage of this freedom and got involvedwith people older than himself who did a lot of drugs and alcohol. Dean did not have anyoneto guide him or teach him good values and morals at that age, so he didn’t know what todo with his life. So, he ended up filling the void in his life by experimenting with drugs andalcohol. Missing those family values and morals Dean developed the belief that it was OKto do things that are against the law. He would go into people’s houses to look for drugs oralcohol.

Dean ended up going in and out of jail and he didn’t know how to face or deal with hisinternal issues and pained feelings, so he learnt to bury them. After a recent relapse duringhis release Dean really started to think about his upset feelings and realized that what hereally needed is healing. Waseskun was suggested to him by his PO and he decided to apply.Once at Waseskun Dean felt that he was able to work on his Healing in much greater depththan he ever could before. Working with the Elder, Helpers and staff and seeing how otherresidents open up, helped him open up as well and to look at and release different traumasthat happened to him throughout his life. He got a better understanding through observingothers and this enabled him to go down that Path of Healing.  

When he was young, Dean was taught that to cry is a source of weakness. Now he understands that crying is a doorway to healing and in fact, it is a source of strength to be able to do so. A part of him understood this before, but when one of the Helpers told him `the Creator gave you tears, so use them“, it really hit home. Now when something affects him, he can get emotional and go with it, which then allows him to release the troubled feelings and heal.  

Before coming to Waseskun Dean didn`t know what to do or how to do anything to healfrom the troubles he was facing. Dean did not know how profound an effect being a survivorof sexual abuse had on him. He just kept all the painful and mixed up feelings bundled upand buried inside. But since being at Waseskun he has been able to identify his troubledemotions and release them and now Dean is able to talk about these issues. He hopes thatby sharing here, that he can help others to take the step to get help and go deeply into theirhealing.   

Dean feels that treatment centers that run for only 28 days just scratch the surface of theissues that one in facing. Dean has experienced that being involved in the work done atWaseskun is very constructive, especially through the opportunity of watching what otherbrothers are going through and sharing with them in Circles. It reaches inside, and as onerelates with others’ experiences one can reach new levels of understanding as a result. 

Dean is a drummer and a singer, and he shares and teaches the songs he knows. Dean didgreat work with hides since being at the center, which was something he used to do, but hadput sleep because of his drug abuse. He also worked a lot on the saw mill while being atWaseskun. 

By forcing himself to get involved with activities at Waseskun and to be motivated to keepbusy, Dean has awoken to many things inside of himself. He has learnt from the Helpers andElders about the ways that Native people carry the Medicine and how to implement it in hislife. He has been seeing how the Medicine works and how to use it in a good way, applyingit in living a good life. Dean didn`t hold back and took advantage of Waseskun has to offer.There is a lot he has learnt here. For Dean Waseskun was the Creator’s way of showing himthat there is a chance to keep living.

Dean hopes to make amends with different community members who were affected and hurtthrough his criminality upon his return home. The healing doesn`t stop. Being at Waseskunsignifies the beginning of his journey for Dean. He has his support system in place andresources ready for him back home and he knows who he need to talk to. He has Elders hecan contact. He remembers different people telling him in the past that for Healing he has todig really deep, but he never really understood what that meant before. Now he understandsthat you need to look deep inside yourself to see what is down there.

Dean understands that when he has a blockage, it can make him have a slip, go into depression, or any other negative thing that can lead him to have unbalance in his life. At Waseskun he learned how to create the stability, balance, and harmony that he needs in his life. Spirituality has become strong in his life and he has learnt a lot about his Culture. It was one of his goals to better understand how energy, vibration, and frequency work. He did understand a little bit before, but now he understands a whole lot more. He understands much more about the medicines too. He has experienced how sweat lodges help in releasing a lot of energy.

Dean understands that when he has a blockage, it can make him have a slip, go into depression, or any other negative thing that can lead him to have unbalance in his life. At Waseskun he learned how to create the stability, balance, and harmony that he needs in his life. Spirituality has become strong in his life and he has learnt a lot about his Culture. It was one of his goals to better understand how energy, vibration, and frequency work. He did understand a little bit before, but now he understands a whole lot more. He understands much more about the medicines too. He has experienced how sweat lodges help in releasing a lot of energy.

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 future publication.
1 Waseskun street
PO Box 1159
Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez (Qc), J0K 1W0
Tél. : 450 883-2034 Fax : 450 883-3631

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