A message from Dr. Kelsey Louie, Acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer; and Dr. Evan Adams, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Public Health, FNHA Office of the Chief Medical Officer
The International Day of Friendship is a day to think about how we are doing with respect to maintaining and nurturing our friendships and relationships, which can be an important part of our health and wellness journey. Friendships are about connectedness, mutual support, encouragement, sharing, strength, accountability, and love.
As First Nations people, we know from our traditional teachings that strong connections to friends, family, and community are important for our health. For example, in our home community's language, Tla'amin, the word “ǰɛǰɛ" refers to both “relative" and “tree," with the understanding that our kinships and relationships with one another are similar to that of nature and the forest, with the trees being grounded to Mother Earth, and the root systems working in harmony and being connected with one another. It follows that if we keep in mind that we are all related/connected and – and live/act accordingly – then individuals, communities, and societies will be healthier.
According to The First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness, our relationships sustain us, and help us to be healthy and well. Maintaining and creating relationships with friends, family, and community can protect us from feelings of loneliness and isolation while increasing resilience and a sense of belonging. Laughing and having fun with friends and family is very good medicine!
If you feel you're not part of a community right now or do not have good relationships, this is a good time to think about how you can change that. We recommend that you reach out to someone to spend time with one on one, join local group activities that interest you, or reach out to your local Friendship Centre to participate or volunteer.
We can be “good medicine" in the lives of people who are lonely or may be struggling. If you know of someone who is isolated – or who is away from home on their personal journey, perhaps for school/studies, employment, or athletics – consider reaching out to them! It is so nice to know you are being thought of, and if you are overdue for a check-in with someone, whether friendship or mentorship, this might be a nice reminder to encourage you to carve out some time to send a message/text/email/call/etc.
Knowing that our connections to community and land are major determinants of our health and well-being as First Nations people, we encourage you to get together with others, especially out on the lands and waters. We also encourage you to send photos (to firstname.lastname@example.org) of yourself and/or your friends and family enjoying the great outdoors this summer. Your photos could be posted on our social media and you could win a $25 gift certificate (for more information, see our “Summer on the Land" initiative).