Cultural Program

Wichihin Niwahkomakanak (wee-chii-hin ni-wah-koma- kanak): Calling Our Ancestors

Heartwood Healing Centre is in process of developing a cultural program that will include activities and supports that center Indigenous ways of knowing, feeling, being, and doing.

Currently we offer teachings, ceremonies, sharing circles, and
cultural sessions for Indigenous participants who would like to engage with traditional cultural ways of healing.

Naming Ceremony 2022

At a Naming Ceremony in November 2022, Elder Charlotte Nolin shared a name for our cultural program that came to her in a dream. It is “Calling Our Ancestors” or as her relative shared in Cree, Wichihin Niwahkomakanak (wee-chii-hin ni-wah-koma- kanak).

Charlotte also shared with us the teachings and responsibilities that come with the name. She said the work we are doing to heal generations of trauma is hard work. We will need the help of our ancestors along the way to support participants of our program and us as helpers. Inviting ancestors into the space will give people the strength and courage they need to move forward. We need to call on our ancestors to support participants to express themselves.

Our responsibility at Heartwood is to live and bring life to this name, Wichihin Niwahkomakanak. To do this, she recommended hanging cedar and the four colours (red, white, yellow, and black) in the four corners of the space where the name was given and where the program would be facilitated. We are also encouraged to feast the name every year.

During the Naming Ceremony, Heartwood’s Cultural Advisor, Ivanna Yellowback was offered tobacco and asked to give us our colors. She shared that when we call in our ancestors, they come in the form of the northern lights, and that’s what was shown. Our colours, then, are green, blue, yellow, and white.

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“[What I found most helpful about long term therapy was] the new sense of self, the start of the journey towards the person I was meant to be. I cannot possibly put into words the degree to which [Heartwood Healing Centre] has helped me and shaped my life. The changes in my life are immeasurable.”