A grassroots organization helping Indigenous women heal from trauma, sexual violence, and addiction is planning to expand into a bigger centre in rural Manitoba.
The Clan Mothers Healing Village is currently operating out of a backyard in Winnipeg’s Point Douglas neighbourhood. An increased demand for this type of healing launched the Village Project, which will see the opening of the Clan Mothers Healing Village & Knowledge Centre on a large parcel of land north of the city.
The centre will provide mid and long-term support to about 50 women at any given time.
“No human being can get over trauma in one year or two years, it takes a lifetime to heal, and they can stay as long as they wish to,” Clan Mothers Healing Village elder and co-founder Mae Louise Campbell told Global News.
Campbell, along with elder and co-founder Belinda Vandenbroeck, have decades of experiencing helping Indigenous women overcome trauma, find their voice, and recognize their value through land-based teachings. Both previously helped women through the Grandmothers Moon Lodge near St. Laurent for nearly 18 years.
Recognizing a high demand for this type of healing and the complexity of the issues Indigenous women face, they came up with the vision for the Clan Mothers Healing Village & Knowledge Centre.
“We have sold the (St. Laurent) land, and now we have another vision and that vision came because of what they told us about their lives. If you listen, you see, then you learn from the people themselves,” Campbell said.
“So my daughter and I and other elders decided we have to do something different, we have to create a permanent village that they can come to and everything will be done our way. The government will have nothing to do with it, we’ll do things our way, the traditional way, which means everything we do will be done through spirit.”
Campbell says the new centre will be situated on a approximately 130 acres of land in rural Manitoba. The location isn’t being disclosed to protect the women who will go there.
“We have the land, which we’re very very happy about,” Campbell said. “It was donated to us by some of the people from the Catholic Church who believe in our vision and are willing to support that by donating this beautiful piece of land to us.”
The Clan Mothers Healing and Knowledge Centre will help connect women with Indigenous worldviews, knowledge, traditions, and ways of thinking that have been lost overtime.
“When I think about women coming into Clan Mothers Village, the very first thing we need to do is to let them know how much we love them, because very few people even say that to each other as human beings today,” Vandenbroeck said.
“And then, we need to undo the colonization of their minds, cause that’s what’s the whole system and society presents, is the Western way of thinking. So we want to present our way of thinking, our future way of thinking, and our way of doing things and being in this world. We are the original people of this country, and we’ve become like third class citizens in our own country.”
Both elders say much of their knowledge comes from the own experiences with overcoming trauma, addiction, and attending residential schools. Camobell says she has experienced trauma from alcohol and drug addiction in her own family.
“I went on a journey to find my spirit — to recognize I am not a bad woman, I have intelligence, I have a heart, I have trauma in my body that I experienced as a child and I don’t want this to happen to other women,” said Campbell, who is 87-years-old. “I would never be sitting here talking to you right now if I gave up on life many years ago, I would not. But I said no, I can do better, I am better than that. I can heal from the trauma I saw and felt as a child.”
“And that’s why I do what I do today, I will never give up until the day I die. I will fight for the wellness of our people forever.”