Blog 1, The Men’s Fish, Hunt and Heal Workshop in Cambridge Bay, NU
Cambridge Bay, Nunavut
If I ever think I am in complete control of my life, all Mother Nature has to do is breathe heavy, and I am stuck in a blizzard in Canada’s high arctic. The plane was scheduled to depart at 2:00 pm but by 10:00 a.m. the blizzard was well on its way; I received the phone call that today’s flight was cancelled and I am rescheduled for a flight tomorrow.
The two week, “Men’s Fish, Hunt and Heal” Workshop, which I facilitated, ended today at noon with a wonderful feast. The men in the workshop prepared Musk-ox soup, Baked Teriyaki Musk-ox, and Musk- ox Stir Fry and rice. It is healing that tastes good! The youngest member in the group, 16 year old Ambrose Hikoalok had shot the Musk-ox yesterday while most of the other men in the group were ice fishing. In the first week of the workshop, Ambrose had shot a caribou for the first time in his life. That event was especially good because his father and uncle were also in the workshop and were at his side at that significant moment in his life.
With eight days in healing circles and 2 days on the land, hunting and fishing, the men did some incredible work. The Inuit men were comfortable being on the land. It is a place to be centred as they reconnect with nature and their ancestral heritage.
Inuit of Canada’s Arctic have had to make some extreme adjustments in their lives in the past 50 to 60 years. Moving from a family-centred nomadic lifestyle to living in communities, the social cost has been extreme: high rates of social dysfunction including suicide, addictions (alcohol, drugs, gambling), family violence and poverty.
I would not work as a therapeutic counsellor and workshop facilitator if I did not have hope. I have great hope for the men in this workshop, and for Inuit in general. Even in the midst of much suffering and trauma, I see resiliency and survivorship that is several generations strong.
I start each healing workshop with the prayer song “Sacred Circle Song.” It is a song I wrote and sang for my wife, Elaine Woodward, as she walked down the church aisle just before we got married. The song invites the Creator and the Creator’s helpers to be with us as we journey. It is the first track on my CD “Healing Ground.” As a way of acknowledging the men’s good work, I gifted each participant with a copy of Healing Ground.
Check out www.lifeworks.cc if you want more information on our healing workshops.