O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation (OPCN) (also known as South Indian Lake) is known for its strength and resilience. OPCN’s cultural and community well-being self-sufficiency was severely damaged and disturbed by the impact of hydro dams and control structures developed in the Churchill River in the early 70s. The community’s concerns were ignored, with no major support for health, education, and food supply. They have been fighting ever since to live a sovereign life that is rooted in their culture and collective health.
The ongoing COVID-19 health crisis is creating a range of impacts throughout Canada—from food access issues, pay disruptions, emotional suffering, and beyond. OPCN has offered a range of activities and resources to help maintain community’s physical, mental and spiritual health.
Community Wellness & Jurisdiction Initiative Program:
OPCN formed their Community Wellness and Jurisdiction Initiative (CWJI) Program in October 2019. This program is under the First Nations Child and Family Services Program through Indigenous Services Canada. The objective is to strengthen the safety and well-being of First Nations children and their families on reserve by funding culturally appropriate prevention and protection services that are determined by the community. Outcomes of CWJI focus on safe, healthy children and families being supported by communities, and identifying and addressing child and family needs.
Steps taken since Covid-19 outbreak through CWJI:
Ithinto Mechisowin (food from the land) Program (IMP):
IMP is OPCN’s community-based food sovereignty program that focuses on increasing availability of local and land-based food, training youth on food harvesting, preparation and food-based knowledge, and deepening inter-generational bonds within the community. Activities include:
“What we need to flight coronavirus is good immune system. We do know that eating a healthy diet, being physically active, managing stress, and getting enough sleep are critical to keeping our immune system strong. That is why, in the community, we are trying to motivate people as much as possible to come out and participate in activities that will boost their physical health, invite them to eat local, nutritional food, and enjoy all these with family and community to avoid depression and anxiety.”- Barb Spence
Thank you to all who contributed to this sharing piece:
Elder Hilda Dysart, Chief Shirley Ducharme, Rene Linklater, Rose Linklater, Jerilyn Brightnose, Jennifer Linklater, Barb Spence, Asfia Gulrukh Kamal
Click here to view the Ithinto mechisowin Calendar.
To find out more about other community partners please read here.