Wabano: a place of belonging.
Wabano meets people where they are and surrounds them with the supports they need to be well and live a good life. We serve more than 10,000 Aboriginals each year, through our health, social and cultural services. These are a few of their stories.
Tricia and her family came to Wabano as clients when the doors first opened. She was looking for connections to her culture and the community. Wabano was able to bring Tricia closer to her culture and help her grow within the community. Fifteen years later, Tricia is on staff on the social enterprise team, responsible for event design and décor in our rentable space. She is also a celebrated jingle dress dancer. The jingle dress and its dance tells a story of healing and hope, the same way that Wabano brings healing and hope to so many.
“Wabano helped me to raise my kids, and now I can give back by making Wabano beautiful.”
When Richard came to our clinic, he was suffering from drug and alcohol addictions. He then entered Wabano’s men’s circle and has since been on a healing journey. Wabano was able to treat Richard not just for his addictions but also for his underlying depression. He has now met a wonderful Elder and is able to learn about his culture; something he was unable to do while being raised in foster homes. Richard has been sober now for 3 years and 2 months and has since been able to get his job back and have his own apartment.
“I am tied to Wabano. I come to the men’s circle as much as I can. Culture was another piece of the puzzle. I smudge every day. Years ago, addiction programs did not work for me. Now, I attend both AA and the men’s circle and it is working. I have even quit smoking. I have been to 14 treatment centers. I have wasted a lot of years. Took me this long to get it right, but I have it right this time.” – Richard
When Dave entered Wabano’s circle he was abusing alcohol. He and his wife had placed their children with Children’s aid. Wabano connected Dave with programs, introduced him to an Elder and directed him to a men’s lodge at the Bronson Centre. His worker was there for him and believed in him, keeping Dave going on the right path. Dave cleaned up, got his life together. He started volunteering at the centre. He later joined the team as custodian. Because of the progress he made, Children’s Aid allowed Dave’s kids to go back home.
“I used to wish that I could do it over. Wabano gave me that option. Looking forward, I can do it again. I’m doing it with my grandchildren.” – Dave
Monica’s journey with Wabano started when Wabano started. She danced in the centre’s opening celebrations in 1998 and then again 15 year later when Wabano’s new building opened in 2013. Monica took part in Wabano’s youth programs as a teenager and when she graduated high school, she was hired as the FASD and perinatal program assistant. Monica developed sewing skills on her own creating the regalia she’s worn as a traditional dancer at pow-wows and the 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver. Monica is now Wabano’s sewing program co-ordinator where she teaches women how to sew.
“The more time I spend at Wabano, the more I see the importance of Wabano, Sewing helped me along my path, and it’s something I can give back to my community.” – Monica
John was adopted and never knew his culture. After his adoptive family dissolved, he came to Ottawa alone. He found himself living as a squeegee kid and struggling with addictions. He was referred to Wabano with borderline Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Wabano was a lifeline, giving John the treatment and support he needed. John believes that these supports saved his life. He has remained involved with Wabano ever since. At Wabano, John is treated as family – not a number. The care and structure that John receives from Wabano has provided him with the strength needed to live a healthy life.
Jason entered Wabano’s circle through the youth justice team. The diversion worker referred him for school support and recreational activites. Like many of the youth that come to Wabano’s programs, Jason bounced around foster homes in rural communities. Children’s Aid had recently moved him to Ottawa. In just a few months after joining the program Jason was fitting in and even took on the role of big brother to the younger ones.
“Jason keeps an eye on them; makes sure nothing bad happens.”
Cassie* is a young girl who lives with her grandparents and who is an active participant in Wabano’s after school program. One night during programming, Cassie befriended a new boy named Grey. Then something powerful happened – they realized that they were brother and sister. It was a very emotional moment for all to see as these two family members reunited and played together as if they’ve known each other all along.
Mary* had a difficult life and arrived at Wabano without the confidence and the words she needed to share her story. Through spoken word workshops, Mary developed skills to express herself using poetry, and then used her poetry to tell her life story. With increased self-esteem and encouragement from peers, she shared her touching work at a community event. Mary’s beautiful poems, and her soaring confidence touched all those who had the privilege of hearing her words.
Joshua’s Story — Haida In The Snow…
I was walking down Rideau Street as the snow was falling and I met a young man hunched over, walking into the wind. He had a large back pack, was wet and cold. He let me know he was Haida. I helped him with bus tickets to an appointment, and he asked if we could meet the following day. That was the beginning of a relationship about brotherhood. He had just recently been released from a federal institution, and had successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program. But, he had no home, no reliable income, no people he could rely upon to be honest and hold him accountable. As a Wabano Youth Outreach worker I had the privilege of helping him. Today he is employed full time, has remained substance free, and has been housed in a one bedroom apartment. Wabano played a crucial role in helping this young Haida man find a healthy path to walk upon. I am thankful to be part of that team.
*names have been changed to protect privacy