There was healing just in the simple act of talking about healing. COVID restrictions caused the annual Lake Babine Nation Health Forum to be sidelined for two years, so when the event was held this past week there was relief and fellowship inside the room alongside the participants. There wasn’t a Zoom camera in sight; it was all in person with a huge turnout.
“Our nation is the third largest nation in B.C. so many of our members reside off reserve all over the province, so it was all age groups and we had really good speakers, so it was well received by so many people. It was a really great turnout,” said primary organizer Emma Palmantier.
The features of the event included discussions on violence, addictions, homelessness, Residential School affects, mental health counsellors on-site, and much more. Lake Babine Nation has suffered a number of recent deaths, Palmantier said, so grief healing was active in amongst all the feelings brought forward by the scheduled topics.
“It was really well needed,” she said. “A lot of great recommendations came forward.”
The forum is a two-way learning event, with the discussions leading to recommendations from those in attendance. An ensuing report is now being written “which will be a guiding book for me as a Health Director, kind of like an action plan for what I need to do to move forward. These are needs identified by our people.”
Some of the priorities coming out of the forum’s participant input include counselling for loss and grief, addictions recovery measures, amplifying the learning of traditional healing methods, and other topics.
Palmantier gave special thanks to the Lake Babine Nation’s health department for all the work involved in re-starting the health forum after so much time off, and appreciated the commitment of chief and council and Wilf Adam of the First Nations Health Council for enabling the event to happen once again.