Timmins group taking holistic approach to healing trauma in the Indigenous female community
Anne Iserhoff and Angela Julian work at the Ontario Native Women's Association's office in Timmins to help deliver programs and services to Indigenous women for whatever they might need. Oct. 9/20 (Lydia Chubak/CTV News northern Ontario)
TIMMINS -- The Ontario Native Women's Association wants to raise awareness about the sensitive issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
It released a detailed report this week, outlying key areas of concern and recommendations for moving forward in ending violence against Indigenous females.
The association has an office in Timmins, which provides programs and services to help do that.
That is where you will find executive director Anne Iserhoff and support worker Angela Julian.
The branch has only been running for about five years, but they say they are meeting new women every day.
While the pandemic has altered the way services are delivered, Iserhoff and Julian are still able to help women at whatever point they are at in their lives.
"We start with where they're at. Building up, building their comfort level. We want them to feel that they can trust us as staff here and we're here to support them one-on-one and in whatever way they need," said Julian.
Last February, a healing blanket workshop helped raise awareness about human trafficking and this week, the women have been highlighting the association's report 'Reconciliation with Indigenous Women: Changing the Story of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.'
"It's the education and awareness piece, right? You know, changing the narrative, right, when it comes to Indigenous women, their experiences and, you know, changing the thought patterns around how Indigenous women are perceived in the community. And that, really, we are resilient and strong individuals," said Iserhoff.
The report offers 13 recommendations based on decades of input from Indigenous women, incorporating the 13 Grandmother Moon Teachings.
"We use a lot of culture in the work that we do, and so whether it's making drums or teaching circles, pieces like that, it kind of brings everyone back to that starting page where you're taking those baby steps of getting to know people and slowly opening up and building relationships," said Julian. "And with those relationships, you can kind of build further and we see a lot more people feeling comfortable with talking about what's happening in their lives or what has happened in their lives after that relationship building has happened."
"We are here to support Indigenous women and our aim is to collaborate and build meaningful relationships within the community," said Iserhoff.
The report suggests the reclaiming of Indigenous women's leadership and restoring of identity are key to addressing the missing and murdered women and girls crisis.