First Nations supports offered to evacuees

Friday, November 26, 2021

Evacuees from Merritt have another resource to lean on to help them deal with the emotional stress of the flooding situation. 

Many evacuees are First Nations members who may be looking for familiar supports rooted in their culture.

Emergency Support Services recognizes that providing culturally sensitive supports to a diverse population is critical to the recovery process for evacuees, so they reached out the First Nations Health Authority for help.

Enter Edna and Laureen Felix, a mother-daughter team from Splatsin. Trained in traditional healing, the pair have come to assist as part of the Emergency Reception Centre’s services at the Prestige Harbourfront Inn, located at 251 Harbourfront Drive, NE Salmon Arm.

“We have been asked to help evacuees deal with what they are facing. Many are fearful of what they are going home to. They can be still in shock and trying to cope with this natural disaster, there’s anxiety there’s financial losses. We are here to provide a safe space for people, to help ease their minds, to talk or offer a Healing Circle,” says Laureen.

Edna and Laureen want to extend their services to any evacuee who is in need, regardless of cultural background.

“We are flexible, as long as you need help, ask, and it will be given,” says Edna.

They are available to all evacuees this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, November 27 and 28 from 9 AM to 5 PM.

An area has been set up in the reception centre to provide a culturally sensitive safe space for conversation, and outdoors, there is a place for the women to sing, drum, or conduct traditional brushing or spiritual cleansing ceremonies.

“We are there to bring comfort and strength, to help them with what they need to get by. We can provide that safe place. That’s how our people work. We want to do what we can to ease their burdens,” says Edna.

Photos:

Top - Edna and Laureen Felix have set up an outdoor space where they can conduct traditional First Nations ceremonies designed to help evacuees.

Bottom - Laureen uses an Eagle Feather to conduct a cleansing for her mother, Edna.