Community Wellness Champion: Cyril’s Wholistic Wellness Journey


​Cyril shares his story of overcoming health complications by prioritizing his active wellness journey​​


​Cyril Morris, weqwaqweleq, Lekwungen from Songhees Nation writes about the importance of finding joy in the movement you engage in. It isn't about how much you can weight lift but about nurturing your spirit. Remember, movement is good medicine!

My physical wellness journey began with a health scare. A month into the pandemic, I landed in the hospital with high blood sugar at a level of 52. I could not walk, and was incoherent. I felt like I was drunk, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I was given a catheter and the doctor told me if I had not come into the hospital when I did, I would have gone into a diabetic coma.

When I woke up, I was quite angry at first because I wasn't allowed to eat for two days, but could smell the breakfasts of the other patients around me - eggs, bacon and toast. Then, when I finally got my breakfast, it was just toast, oatmeal, yogurt, tea and milk. However, I reminded myself that I am in the hospital because of my eating habits and not prioritizing my health and wellness. Due to ​the stress I was experiencing with work and the impact it had on my mental health and wellness, I'd turned to emotional eating. I would wake up in the morning and have a Coca-Cola. For lunch and dinner, I would eat KFC, A&W, Lee's chicken / pizza, and frappuccinos and other processed, high-sugar foods and drinks.  I was addicted to sugar.

After six months of healing and weekly visits with a diabetes nurse, I began my physical wellness journey. During this time, I worked on being gentle on myself. It was important for me to acknowledge the systems and marginalization we, as First Nations people, have experienced, as well as my own ways of copin​g with trauma. My grandparents taught me to challenge adversity and life's hurdles in healthy ways. I was put here for a reason to challenge this damaging way of thinking, so I felt a cultural empowerment to stand up for myself and take charge of my wellness, but I knew it was not going to happen overnight. With this reflection, I began to feel better about where I was at, and to be grateful for having this opportunity to change my lifestyle. 

It was important for me to remember and honour that health and wellness is not necessarily about the gym and running marathons, but about being respectful to yourself and grateful for the ability to move. I remembered the movements of our ancestors, and the fact their gymnasium and fitness studio was the land. Their workouts were fishing, hunting, harvesting and being in ceremony; they were always moving. I started out slow, making​ a point to walk for just seven to 10 minutes after every meal. This gave me the confidence I needed to get back into the gym and have fun with it.

It has now been 159 weeks straight that I have been going to the gym, and I have lost over 50 pounds. I am so grateful for the Songhees Wellness Centre Fitness Studio and the land I live on. I go for walks with my kids and grandkids, and am enjoying my life every day. My job is more positive, as I found the table I belong at. Surrounding myself with people who want to do better and serve others in a good way has brought me back to the way I was raised, and to my grandmother's teachings. This has all helped my​ spirit immensely.

In addition to exercising, I also find joy in cosplay, and participate in cultural craft fairs. Most recently, I have been dabbling in digital creation. Another part of my journey has been focusing on other cultural traditions a​​nd activities such as canoe tours and reconnecting to our ancestral highways.

My best advice if you want to improve your own health and wellness: Choose an activity that brings you joy and helps you engage. It does not need to be a gym or dumbbells or barbells – just something that does not feel like a chore, something that brings you happiness. And remember that movement is good medicine!

Watch Cyril's exercise videos on YouTube for more inspiration! Don't forget to share photos or posts of your participation by emailing it to or tagging us on social media to encourage and inspire others. The FNHA Wellness Initiatives Team will select a winner from the submitted posts in the first week of July. (Make sure to use the hashtags #FNHAWellness, #30x30ActiveCh allengeFNHA and #BeActiveFNHA.)

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