The Vancouver Island treatment centre is finding creative ways to help clients connect with culture and healing.
Nola Jeffrey, Executive Director of Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society and her team are busy these days guiding virtual ceremonies, sharing online teachings from Elders, and providing telephone cultural supports as they find innovative ways to offer comfort and grounding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society is a substance use and trauma treatment centre on Vancouver Island. Tsow-Tun Le Lum means “Helping House," and the centre includes a strong presence of First Nations culture throughout its programming. Tsow-Tun Le Lum closed its physical doors to clients in March when physical distancing measures were put in place, so Nola and her team created the Tsow-Tun Le Lum Resolution Health Support Workers (RHSW) Facebook page and toll-free telephone number to provide virtual support to clients and First Nations individuals.
One of the first Facebook posts was a smudge by George Jeffrey, which has received over 10,000 views from individuals as well as organizations, including the First Nations Health Authority's (FNHA) Mental Health and Wellness team who have opened up meetings in a good way with the video. Nola credits guidance from her ancestors for the idea to bring the smudging ceremony to others online. “It is unusual because cultural teachings are usually person to person," says Nola. “If we were not in this time [COVID-19 pandemic], you probably would not see this virtual presence."
At a time when people are isolated and perhaps feeling disconnected from the land and culture, Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society's virtual presence is bridging that gap. The Facebook page is full of cultural teachings, positive messaging, coping techniques, and it is a place where people can connect and share (they even have a karaoke challenge!). Elders and cultural support workers are available over the phone to listen, share or explain how to take a Cedar bath and other traditional healing practices.
Watch James Quatell's teaching here.
Watch Gene Harry's teaching here.
“This is all the work we would usually be doing in community," says Nola. “We've had to get creative to support our people." The society, with the support of FNHA, also manages the phone lines for 10 hours a day listening and connecting folks with the supports they need, including counselling and clinical counselling as well.
Thank you, Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society and healing houses throughout the province for preserving connection and culture; your efforts certainly bring good medicine to First Nations people.
View the smudge with George Jeffery here.
You can check out the TTTL RHSW Facebook page here.
For counselling and culture support call 1-888-403-3123 or Nola Jeffery at 250-248-7514