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Blood Tribe hosts wellness conference

The Blood Tribe Department of Health Kainai Wellness Program hosted the Mental Wellness Gathering at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino in Calgary with a focus on culture.

“Culture is Our Immune System: Nipaitapiiyssinni” has participants from Treaty 6, 7 and 8 tribes.

This year’s conference, which ran from Dec. 11-13,  was the first one after the COVID-19 shutdown.

“The gathering will speak to why our cultures are integral to our community health and wellness,” said Dr. Terri-Lynn Fox, Kainai Wellness director and event organizer, “We were selected to host this event and feel that based on our own tribe’s practices that we can truly identify the issues affecting our communities.”

Dr. Fox is also the Treaty 7 representative of the Alberta First Nations Health Co-Management, the organization that funds the annual event.

About 400 people participated in sessions which included keynote speeches from mental health professionals, Dr. Eduardo Duran, Dr. Rosalyn LaPier, and Dr. Rita Henderson.

Former Blood Tribe Chief and Blood Tribe Department of Health board member Charles Weasel Head concluded the gathering with his keynote address on Dec, 13.

Activities ranged from panel discussions including elders, entrepreneurs and youth; indigenous entertainment featuring musical artists, fashion designers and comedy.

“We must show the strength in our communities in order achieve reconciliation across all tables of government,” Dr. Fox said, “Creating understanding and awareness of the issues is necessary.”

The Kainai Wellness Centre is on the Blood Reserve and provides services with a therapeutic component client centered and trauma informed approaches to wellness that emphasize Blackfoot Ways of knowing and being.

In effort to be accessible, Health Co-Management and the Kainai Wellness Program ensured accommodations and meals are free to all registered participants.

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