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Counselling support program for Indigenous families uses mixed-healing approach

Dwayne Yasinowski, Caring Hearts director of education
Dwayne Yasinowski, Caring Hearts director of education. Handout

Elders at Regina’s Caring Hearts support program are using land-based healing, sharing circles and other traditional healing processes to help Indigenous people through bereavement and as an act of reconciliation.

Formerly known as Regina Palliative Care Inc., then Regina Greystone Bereavement Center, and now Caring Hearts, it’s a program that provides counselling services and support to people who have suffered significant death loss.

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Caring Hearts also now works with those who have suffered trauma and supports those impacted by missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).

“We provide both a western therapeutic approach and a traditional healing Indigenous approach to our counselling,” said Dwayne Yasinowski, Caring Hearts director of education.

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“We have three contract clinicians that work with us and two elders that will provide traditional healing.”

This inclusion is necessary for reconciliation, according to Yasinowski.

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[To] show how both a western therapeutic approach and a traditional approach can work hand-in-hand,” said Yasinowski. “Supporting each other to ensure that the families receive the best support possible for them in whatever journey they’re traveling and in the interests of reconciliation.”

With this knowledge, they are creating a toolkit for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous agencies.

“This toolkit is pulling together lots of knowledge from different regions and different territories and different elders,” said Yasinowski.

“Creating a toolkit that’ll include elders, videos, manuals that merge both the traditional and the Western therapeutic approach. And that’s going to be provided to agencies to use as a starting point to the understanding of culture, a cultural sensitivity, the need for reconciliation, the need to understand the importance of how colonization, residential schools, the 60’s scoop, all impacted families.”

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Yasinowski said these issues often serve as an underlying root to some of the traumas that families experience.

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He said National Indigenous Peoples Day is important for reflection.

“It’s important for reconciliation and for taking a moment [to think] about the wrongs that society has over the years that have impacted Indigenous families,” said Yasinowski.

“And we should be thinking about that all the time but having that day is special. And having that day to honor the idea of ceremony. The idea of dance. The idea of tradition. I think is extremely important and hopefully, it works harder to strengthen that bridge and that reconciliation that needs to happen in our society.”

The toolkit will be launching on Oct. 20 in Regina at their second annual gala and education day.

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