by Thunder Eagle Woman, Brandy Kane, Manager of Indigenous Women’s Program
The Indigenous Women’s Program at Battered Women’s Support Services would like to acknowledge the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish People, and the Squamish, Tsawwassen, Musqueam , and the Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself, my ceremonial name is Thunder Eagle Woman and my colonial name is Brandy Kane. My family comes from Lillooet, BC, which is in St’at’imc territory.
BWSS Indigenous Women’s Program (IWP)offers direct services through Elders, Ceremonial people, Talking Circles, a Women’s hand drum group, and Pipe ceremony, Sweat Lodge ceremony, cold-water baths, and Grandmother Moon ceremonies to our Indigenous sisters accessing our services, as a way of healing. We also offer Stopping the Violence counselling, outreach, crisis intervention and a variety of support groups.
Without the legacy of residential school, colonization, and assimilation Indigenous people would have healthy relationships with their families, connection with their culture, land and knowledge of their language. They may not have experienced complex trauma such as sexual abuse, family violence, and alcohol and drug addiction. These abuses have had a profound effect on our people. It has been said that it will take seven generations to heal the damage that has been done, and we are coming into that seventh generation now.
Culture, tradition, and ceremony are a huge part of the IWP at BWSS. It is extremely important that we use wholistic practices using decolonizing and reclaiming practices that I know work for our people. The healing that takes place in a ceremony you can’t find in an office. The spirit that comes into the ceremony isn’t something you can get from a one-hour session alone. Ceremony is important to the healing process of Indigenous people and their connection to the spirit and Mother Earth. Additionally, we implement the four quadrants of the Medicine Wheel, looking at the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of healing. We also follow the 7 sacred principles, fortitude, humility, courage, honesty, gratitude, generosity and respect. An Indigenous wholistic healing practice is what work for Indigenous peoples and implement a sense of identity. Reclaiming Indigenous ways is how we are going to recover as individuals, families, and nations.
We as women are reclaiming our identity by attending ceremonies, learning about roles, and taking our place on the female side. There are certain roles that women have at ceremony and in life. Women are honoured and recognized for these roles and this is shown in the teachings around the significance of women wearing skirts at ceremonies. The skirt represents the hoop of life and our connection to Mother Earth. Women have a special bond with Mother Earth and our relationship to nature is sacred. It is very important to pass these values on to our children and youth. Our mother, the Earth, takes care of us; she nourishes our body mind and spirit. In turn, we give her the highest respect.
Building a sense of identity, community, and belonging is a goal of the IWP. We, as a community, need to heal together. We need to be able to take care of our children, of our Elders, and of ourselves. These are just some of the teachings and ceremonies that are implemented into the programming at BWSS.
In the Spirit of Healing,
Thunder Eagle Woman, Brandy Kane
Learn more about the Indigenous Women’s Program here.
Battered Women’s Support Services responded to over 10,000 crisis calls from women and girls to get help and end violence in 2012. We could not provide this essential support without your contribution.