For Rachael Leduc, Anishnawbe Health Toronto can be described as a great, old tree deeply rooted in Mother Earth.
Rachael, who grew up in Northern Ontario disconnected from her Indigenous culture, always felt a spiritual pull towards Mother Earth and creation. Rachael, who has suffered from panic attacks and PTSD, has been a client of Anishnawbe Health for years.
“The mental health counselling I receive at Anishnawbe Health helps me to deal with all that life has thrown at me. I have learned to navigate rough waters, to slow down – to cope with stress and anxiety. These are gifts I am extremely grateful to Anishnawbe Health for,” says Rachael.
The cultural programming at Anishnawbe Health connected Rachael to sacred teachings, provided access to ceremonies, and helped her grow spiritually, deepening Rachael’s knowledge and appreciation for her ancestry and Indigeneity. Today, Rachael shares these teachings with her children and grandchild.
“The Healers helped my children and grandson to receive their Spirit names and colours from ancestors and Creator in ceremony. When my daughters became women, they were taught about moon time and given other traditional teachings about womanhood to guide them on their life’s journey. My grandson has been going to AHT with me since he was 3 months old, ” comments Rachael.
Rachael’s children have all attended the Oshkii Okitchiidak (Young Warriors) youth program at Anishnawbe Health Toronto, which provides counselling supports, an opportunity to connect with other Indigenous youth in the city, advocacy with schools, and access to cultural programming.
When Rachel’s grandson reached school age, they were referred by AHT to a land-based learning program where, as a family, they learned about plants, traditional medicines, and participated in ceremonies. “It was a very positive experience for, and it has given me confidence as a grandmother knowing that he is starting out life strongly connected to culture and community.”
Recently Rachel found out she was borderline diabetic, and she turned to the Diabetes Prevention Program at AHT for support. “I am not alone in dealing with this new diagnosis, I have been supported by the Dietitians, and have access to the Social Worker and Outreach Worker when I need it. The team provides a traditional, culturally based programming, community kitchens, and diabetic education.
“Going to Anishnawbe Health – it’s like going to church for me, a sense of respect, wisdom love, honesty, truth, bravery, because I was able to face my fears and talk about my feelings and humanity in a place where all the staff and clients come together to help each other and offer judgment free supports. I am very grateful for all the staff and all their hard work and their dedication for helping others.”
To find out how you can contribute to the life-changing programming and a vital Indigenous community at Anishnawbe Health Toronto, visit SupportAnishnawbe.ca.