“The Turtle brought the teaching of Truth to the Seven Grandfather Teachings.
We cannot live Truth until we are able to live the wisdom of all the teachings.
Grandmother Turtle leaves a trail which we are to follow, carrying the teachings of
Respect, Love, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom and Humility.
The richness of whom we are comes from the knowledge and
understanding that we have been given in these great teachings”.
Waseskun Continues The Healing Journey While Staying COVID-Free
Thanks to some creativity and a good deal of community cooperation, Waseskun has been thriving throughout the pandemic. The first few months were challenging as we all adjusted to face coverings, social distancing, frequent hand washing and new sanitary measures. Eventually, we developed safe and innovative methods to continue our Waseya Holistic Healing Program and to hold the Sacred Ceremonies that are essential to spiritual growth.
Waseskun’s doors have remained open for new applicants. For those accepted, we developed a COVID protocol for transportation, admissions and quarantine to facilitate the safe arrival of new residents to our Healing Community.
Our residents enjoy most of the same privileges and healing opportunities they did prior to the pandemic, thanks in large part to Waseskun’s five-and-a-half acre, multiple building property. This affords everyone the freedom to be outside pretty much as much as they want. The craft shops, hide sheds, and canteen have remained open and operational, though with some temporary capacity restrictions. To date, we have not had to implement any severe restrictions such as lock-downs, although most outings had been suspended for COVID safety reasons and have just started up again, beginning in February, 2021, with ETAs out to the Land.
Programs are now held in smaller groups to allow social distancing. This has had incidental benefits, as each participant has more time to speak and the facilitator can give closer attention to each individual. Like many other organizations, we have been making good use of Zoom. This has given us access to some interesting traditional facilitators who wouldn’t have been available to come in person due to COVID restrictions. We’ve also been using video conferencing for some program delivery, one-on-one counselling and family video visits.
Our Elders and Spiritual Helpers have found creative ways to deliver Ceremonies over the past year. For example, we have built four one-person Sweat Lodges, each fed from the same Sacred Fire. The Helper directing the Sweat stays outside with the Firekeeper and gives instructions to the men as the Ceremony begins. He then moves from lodge to lodge working with the four men, each in their individual lodge, checking in with them and giving teachings and support from a safe distance.
The Helpers have kept traditional activities going strong with lots of hide tanning, drum making and singing. Outings have recently started up again with small groups of guys going out to The Horse Farm, and Waseskun’s Land, where the building of traditional shelters and overnight camping will be soon beginning.
Despite some reluctance at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Waseskun residents did adjust to the new health requirements through strong dedication to the Grandfather Teachings. By adopting the safety measures, each resident has demonstrated Wisdom, along with Love and Respect for their fellow community members. The results have been a Healing Community that has been healthy, thriving, supportive, dynamic and COVID-free!
INTERVIEW WITH A RESIDENT
Terry came to Waseskun 28 months ago. He realized that he needed some serious help and that he couldn’t do it on his own. Terry realized that the best thing for him was to connect with his culture and receive and accept the help that Waseskun offers. In coming to Waseskun the first bit was tough. You have to commit yourself to the program. You can’t just expect a miracle to happen overnight.
It was a deep and long process for Terry to have come as far as he had. A lot of the work you do yourself. It’s for you, so it’s got to be about you. You know your story. You have to be able to be open, be honest and willing to accept whatever criticism that may come your way. These are awakenings more than criticisms.
Terry had just come back from the land, 20 minutes prior to being interviewed (March 11, 21). He was at the Horse Farm for an ETA. He is a peer support and also picks peer support for the new men coming into Waseskun so they get the right fit and the right knowledge of what Waseskun is about, so they don’t get led in the wrong direction and are able to stay focused on what they need to do.
Terry is very involved in the community. That is part of the commitment. You need to be involved. You can’t just stay in your room. There are a lot of good things that happen. He loves to do Sweats and was going into a Sweat Lodge on the evening following the interview. Waseskun has adapted to COVID by having a 1-person Sweat. You need to voice yourself in the Sweat, to be able to open yourself up and to allow things to happen. It’s all an awakening process. Everything is all very traditional here, including the Fast. Terry works closely and together with Waseskun staff. He runs the Morning Circles when the Helpers aren’t around and fills out all the attendance sheets. Terry spends a lot of his time doing hide work, including hide tanning. It is all new to him and he is learning to do it as a new experience. He does a lot of wood crafts for the people in the community. If someone needs something made, they come to him and get his advice. He does all the tool test training, making sure that all the tests are coordinated under the proper safety guidelines which Waseskun has in place.
Under COVID measures it was a hard thing for Terry to get used to wearing masks. He believes in the 14-day quarantine being done here. The availability for going out is just coming back now, as in the ETA program. Going out for medical appointments and necessities are still being done, carefully. Anytime that anyone seems to be sick, Waseskun deals with it right away, including bringing guys to the hospital when medical attention was required. The community is safe!
For the new guys coming to Waseskun they need to be able to come here and express themselves, because in other facilities that is not permitted. You are always ridiculed or put down for being open. Grown men can cry at Waseskun because that is part of healing. As long as people understand this, it’s good. You need to commit yourself when you come here. You need to open yourself to what the Waseya Program is and understand that the Waseya Program is you! It is unique and unlike any other program. It is a benefit and a great tool that we can apply when we go back out into the community. Terry is impressed by how when we run into troubling times at Waseskun, that the community gets together and we do come over them. Everything is going great for Terry
It’s been quite an experience for him.
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The Waseskun Circle
1 Waseskun street
PO Box 1159
Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez (Qc), J0K 1W0
Tél. : 450 883-2034 Fax : 450 883-3631