Submitted by: Marsha Depotier, MNO Victims Services Coordinator

Womens Sharing Circle 1
MNO Bancroft Healing and Wellness staff assisted with
the Women’s Sharing Circles. They are seen here
Awakening Métis Healing Blankets.

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Victim Services Program recently concluded a series of Women’s Sharing Circles that began in the spring of 2014. Circles were held once a week for ten weeks at the MNO Community Office in Bancroft and were designed to help women address trauma from past harms as well as support and ‘walk alongside’ women on their healing journey.

The Women’s Sharing Circles were facilitated by MNO’s Victim Services Coordinator, Marsha Depotier. A local trauma therapist, Jody Raven from Sacred Path Healing Centre, was also invited to co-facilitate.

The circles began with all women becoming familiar with each other as well familiar with their own life experiences and life path. Women were invited to share as much of their story as they felt comfortable or necessary. Slowly and in a cultural safe and supportive way, participants were able to identify the trauma that sits within them as an individual, within their families and within their community. The goal of this process was and is to draw attention to the fact that trauma not only damages our spirits as Métis women but also lingers and attaches itself to our spirits. Participants learned ways to release trauma and how to nourish themselves back to health.

Womens Sharing Circle 2
Contents of the Métis Healing Bundle

The circles focused on a wholistic model of healing and wellness and participants were asked to embrace a greater understanding of the rich Métis culture through traditional crafts, activities, storytelling and teachings. All of the sharing, creating and skills development that took place over the ten weeks fed into a large process of creating individual Métis Healing Bundles. Each Métis Healing Bundle included:

  • Métis Unity Strand
  • Turtle Rattle
  • Métis Healing Blanket
  • Métis Timeline Scarf
  • Mindful Mediation Techniques
  • Breathing Techniques
  • Medicine bundle of tobacco, sage, cedar and sweet grass

Each item in the Métis Healing Bundle was created by the women and at the final session a feast and celebration was held. At this time, the women were invited to awaken their bundles in ceremony. These bundles are now not only cherished keepsakes and a reminder of what each woman was able to achieve in a ten week period but are now medicines that will serve these women for years to come.

The MNO Victims Services Program is creating a guide on how to plan, develop and offer similar Women’s Sharing Circles throughout the province.

We thank the women of the Gathering Strength Women’s Circles for their ability to share, learn and grow. Marsii.

For more information on the Women’s Sharing Circles please contact MNO Victim Service Coordinator, Marsha Depotier, at 613-332-2575 ext 23.