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Walking together tomorrow for healing retreat

The Native Women’s Shelter’s Spirit Walk fundraiser tomorrow is an annual event to help disadvantaged mothers and their children in healing. (Courtesy Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal)

The Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (NWSM) will host the sixth annual Spirit Walk fundraiser tomorrow in Mount Royal Park to collect funds for the basic needs of the clientele.

Since its incorporation in 1987, the NWSM provides a safe and supportive environment with various services for Indigenous people, accommodating up to 16 women and children per night and offering 20 workshops monthly on art therapy and traditional teachings.

The organizers said the funds raised during the event will go towards the shelter’s healing retreat and operations to address immediate needs and issues of Indigenous women and children, to help them become autonomous and live a more balanced life.

Relief worker Maya Soren said there is a lack of resources from the government, and having support from the non-Indigenous communities through the event is a good way to reconcile and fundraise.

“We literary walk together,” she said, “So it feels like we are doing something together.” 

Soren said the organizers are expecting 250 walkers helping to keep Indigenous women and children safe and connected to their traditional healing practices.

“We have 117 registered right now,” she said, “Every year it has been growing in terms of walkers and the money raised, so it is really awesome to see more people that are involved.”

Soren said there are a lot of extra expenses for the women and children the shelter cares about. 

“For example, a woman wants to go back to her community after she finished receiving services in Montreal,” she said. “Or someone needs diapers or food in emergency; the shelter will pay for that.”

Kate Legrand, residential support worker, said to provide diverse programming to meet the changing needs of the clientele, the NWSM seeks new sources of funding and any financial contribution would be greatly appreciated.

“What people can do if they want to participate is to register on the shelter Facebook page or the website, and then they have people sponsor them to walk,” she said. “People can also create their personal fundraising page.”

She said the online fundraising has already collected more than $20,000 out of its $30,000 goal. 

“Some of it (the sum) will go for all kinds of shelter services,” she said, “Like family care services, addiction services, in-house programs and more.” 

Kahnawake’s Wahsontiiostha Brooke Deer is jumping in for the cause, and has beaded earrings for sale, with all proceeds going to the Spirit Walk fundraiser. 

With opening remarks from Kahnawake elder Sedalia Fazio at 2 p.m., cultural relevant activities and the music by Beatrice Deer Band, Buffalo Hat Singers, and Odaya, the event will start its walk from the George-Etienne Cartier monument on Mont Royal until Beaver Lake to support the residents at the shelter.

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