Equay-Wuk holds annual gathering
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Equay-Wuk (women’s group) hosted their annual gathering at the Sunset Suites in Sioux Lookout from March 5-7.
The gathering featured a variety of different workshops and training sessions, which are offered to First Nations women and workers in the 31 communities served by Equay-Wuk.
Equay-Wuk has been in existence since 1989 as a non-profit, charitable women’s group. It serves 31 First Nation communities, running programs and services year-round for women, youth and their families. The yearly gathering is a big part of reaching out to women with up to date information, and also hosting events that allow women and youth to have fun.
“Every year we update the ladies on our current programs, so all the staff does presentations… This year one of our themes had to do with gender-based violence because the term is becoming more prominent, so we had pamphlets developed on it and it was translated in to Oji-Cree syllabics. We wanted to share information like that to the women who were attending the gathering, especially the ones who are working in the communities or coming from the surrounding communities,” explained acting director Darlene Angeconeb.
The ladies were able to participate in fun, lighter activities throughout the gathering such as smoothie making and painting.
“We held a paint night activity on the first evening because we feel a lot of the self-care activities, like crafts or arts, of any kind promote creativity and stress relief,” said Angeconeb.
Along with local staff, the gathering also saw guest presenters come in to host workshops and sessions such as Elections Canada and the Northwestern Health Unit.
“We had an Inspire Democracy workshop from Elections Canada. There was a lady there named Bianca Baldo, and she came from Ottawa. They have been gathering information on the First Nations vote and she did a pop-up activity where you do voting. She had the voting box there and everybody took on different roles. A couple of ladies were electoral officers and they had a greeter… Once they did that, and we had a few of the ladies voting, they had different scenarios where they had certain challenges. It was interesting,” Angeconeb shared.
“We had naloxone training for the ladies so that they would come away from the training with a naloxone kit because the use of opioids and possibility of opioid overdose is happening more and more. We felt the training should be done in our workshop, and it was really good that the Northwestern Health Unit provided that training,” she continued.
According to ontario.ca, “Naloxone (pronounced na-LOX-own, also known by the brand name Narcan) is a drug that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose. Opioids are drugs that are usually used to treat pain, but some people use opioids to get high. Some commonly used opioids include fentanyl, morphine, heroin, methadone, and oxycodone. When someone overdoses on opioids, their breathing either slows or stops completely. If used right away, naloxone can help them breathe normally and regain consciousness. Naloxone can either be injected or given as a nasal spray.”
The gathering also brought about celebration with Dora Beardy of Bearskin Lake First Nation being recognized as an honorary board member for her service to Equay-Wuk. Along with Beardy, Angeconeb was presented with a plaque in recognition of 19 years of service, being employed with Equay-Wuk since June 1999.
Angeconeb mentioned that there could be more celebrations in the near future with Equay-Wuk officially turning 30 years old on July 5 of this year.
Overall, Angeconeb said she was happy with how the gathering went this year.
“I really think everyone enjoyed themselves…It was another successful gathering,” she concluded.
For further information on Equay-Wuk and their programs, check out their website www.equaywuk.ca.