Cultural &
Wellness Programs

The Cultural Healing Garden

About the Program

We are so excited to share the major project will be taking place on the land behind the Wellness Centre during the summer of 2023. Please stop in and watch this project develop!

Reconciliation begins with every one of us. The Cultural Healing Garden allows the Community a place to gather and a place to incorporate our traditions and culture. This space facilitates community-building throughout the community and surrounding area and provides a place for peaceful reflection. It will be used for ceremonies, educational opportunities, and other gatherings.

The Cultural Healing Garden will incorporate a Sweat Lodge, a firepit area with natural wood seating and a garden that will be planted with traditional indigenous medicine plants whose healing properties help improve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and that would be found in the South Slave region. It will be a place to reflect and honour Indigenous culture, history, stories, language and how all of that is interconnected for health, wellness and healing for all ages.

There will be identification plaques dispersed throughout the garden in Cree, Dene and English languages, so visitors can learn more about each plant, its Indigenous names, uses and healing properties.

The Cultural Healing Garden will be used by the community schools to introduce the children and youth to Indigenous culture and traditions that were integral to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples. The Garden will provide valuable teaching tools not only to youth but to the community at large. This type of gathering place has been important to Indigenous people for passing knowledge and teaching to younger generations through storytelling and sharing.

Goals, Objectives & Results

The goals and objectives of this project are:

  1. To offer opportunities for youth to work under the supervision and direction of skilled adults in the building of the teepee, firepit and garden area.
  2. To involve Indigenous knowledge keepers in the design and planting of the Medicine Garden.
  3. To have a community gathering place based on Indigenous cultural and traditional knowledge to promote positive health and wellness to the community.
  4. To provide a teaching environment that will inspire youth to want to know more about Indigenous culture and traditions.
  5. To provide a safe, barrier-free area for Elders to spend positive time together sharing their culture and traditional activities.

The anticipated results of this projects will be ongoing far into the future.

  1. Youth will gain skills in the traditional way of preparing and building a teepee and firepit.
  2. Elders will be engaged in the project through the planning and development of the Medicine Garden. They will be able to share stories and memories as they work together. This provides an environment that improves mental health and subsequently can have very positive overall health benefits.
  3. Community gathering areas allow people from different backgrounds and cultures the opportunity to experience cultures and traditions of others. Knowledge increases awareness and understanding, which is critical for an inclusive community mindset.
  4. School children and youth can use the Garden as a component of their outdoor education and be involved in sharing circles, caring for the plants and learning about Indigenous culture right in their own community.
  5. Elders are our knowledge keepers and story tellers. Having a place that they are able to spend time and share their stories and memories not only benefits their overall health but enables others to learn from them so that the stories and traditions continue and are not lost in history.

    Indigenous Inclusion is about building and fostering relationships with Indigenous people with other cultures. It is about creating a respectful environment to explore, learn, and communicate with a community that has been underrepresented for a long time in history. We are grateful to the GNWT Age Friendly Community Fund for the financial support to complete this important project.
Crafting with Cree

About the Program

Bring your own crafting supplies or use ours and have fun building your Cree language skills while you create something special. We have sewing machines, fabric, moose hide and lots of other supplies available. We even provide the snacks so come and join us for an afternoon of enjoyment! Everyone is welcome.

If you have a talent that you are willing to share with others, please let us know. We will provide you with all your training materials.

Call the Wellness Centre for more information 867-621-0242

On-the-Land Culture and Wellness Camps

About the Program

The land has always been fundamental for the health and cultural identity of Indigenous Peoples.

As beings of the earth and from the earth, Indigenous Peoples have developed specific concepts, practices and standards of care that are derived from and deployed on the land, which commonly aim to maintain spiritual, emotional, mental and physical wellness.

The land is thus viewed as a living, breathing, conscious being that heals and teaches, and is therefore the source of a positive cultural identity and balanced wellbeing.

Culture is directly linked to a person’s health, and a holistic concept of health is an integral part of a strong cultural identity. Salt River First Nation, as well as many other nations believe that the way to achieve individual, family, and community wellness (a balance of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life) is through culturally specific, holistic interventions.

The land has a central role in meaning-making, identity formation, attachment, and belonging, through and from which social systems are developed, renewed, and strengthened. The meaning of place or land is culturally embedded and developed through the direct physical experience of place, but also through storytelling, ancestral connections, and social associations. 

Land-based programming includes a wide variety of formally organized activities that take place on the land. These activities may be taught and practiced within the context of trapping, fishing, and hunting, including connected activities such as maintaining the camp, or they can be selectively organized such as a medicine walk or arts and crafts workshops. They may include ceremonial activities such as sweats, blanket ceremony, pipe ceremony, or smudging, but this is not always the case. Generally, land-based programs have storytelling, legends, and teachings components, and thus can be viewed as a culturally specific therapeutic and educational experience.

Every year we offer On-the-Land Programming for families and youth. Some of these programs are run locally and others take place on the traditional territory at Tsu Lake.

Program updates are posted here on our website and on our Facebook page. Keep you eyes open for updates and information for upcoming camps.

Dreamcatchers Youth Conference

About the Program

Each year we sponsor a group of SRFN youth members and their chaperones to attend this life-changing event.

In March 2023, a group of 7 SRFN youth from Fort Smith, Yellowknife and Edmonton and their 2 chaperones were sponsored to travel to Chase, BC and join the Adam’s Lake Band at their 3-day Dreamcatchers Conference. They were able to represent SRFN in a hand games presentation and participate in hands-on workshops in medicinal plants, the medicine wheel, birchbark basket weaving, survival skills, canoe protocols and preparing for graduation.

Our youth are suffering from the effects of intergenerational trauma and as a direct result of this have low self-esteem and lack the confidence to set goals and objectives for their future and work towards reaching these goals. To achieve the success they deserve for the future, they need assistance in building the soft skills that are integral to future success in their personal as well as employment goals and objectives. Strong connection to their culture and language will help address this need and help with growth and development of their self-esteem as they achieve knowledge and growth in their culture through positive interactions with activities.

Indigenous role models and motivational speakers Stephen W. Tooshkenig, Jason Simon and Kym Gouchie brought Indigenous teachings and inspirational words of courage, strength and hope to the youth through their presentations throughout the Conference.

This amazing program allows the youth the opportunity to learn traditional skills and self-awareness strategies from First Nation leaders and role models. Positive cultural role models are integral in the healthy development of Indigenous youth. Personal development and soft skills development are very important to gaining employment-readiness skills that are transferable to the workplace and in our dealings with co-workers and management.

Watch for information and registration details for the next Conference!

Men’s Talking Circle

About the Program

All men are welcome to come to the Wellness Centre for a relaxed and friendly time to get together for conversation, great snacks, a chance to watch the “game” or traditional activities such as building a wall tent or teepee.

It’s a non-threatening, inclusive evening where discussions are welcome, but not required.

Call the Wellness Centre for more information!

Get In Touch

Contact The Wellness Centre

Connie Benwell, Language & Culture Coordinator

Phone: 867-621-0242

Christina Wanderingspirit, Supportive Care Worker

Phone: 780-243-7974

Location: 176 Wintergreen Street

Hours of Operation:

Regular hours: 9am – 4:30 pm Monday – Friday

Men’s Talking Circle – Call for more information

Crafting with Cree – call for more information