Picture this; you are holding two people’s hands as you sit in a circle of happiness and comfort. You love and respect those around you and you trust them. You are surrounded by people you care about, people who can relate to what you’re going through, people who are living similar experiences, both good and bad.
Your happiness turns to dread as you are woken abruptly by a slam of the front door and come to the sudden realization that it was all a dream; that there is in fact nowhere to turn if you suffer from the host of medical or emotional diseases that afflict Eeyou Istchee because there are no support groups to help you get through the rough times.
The question is, why?
Why are there so few places to turn for someone with a disease that severely limits his or her ability to live a normal life?
It’s interesting because this is not something that we can blame on the fat cats in the Grand Council. This is something that falls squarely on our own shoulders.
Granted, it should have become a reality through Cree Health Board funding a long time ago, but after that, it is up to the ones who are suffering from these ailments to attend meetings regularly to support their fellow man or woman and for their own healing.
Someone who suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis in Eeyou Istchee, who shall remain nameless, had a good point.
“It’s important to be there to support each other, whether it be you who is the one going through more challenges or to help someone go through their challenges,” she said. “I’ve been through a lot so I can help somebody, but at the same time maybe someone has a different outlook that can help me.”
And she is not alone. Although the numbers are not available or are hard to find, Eeyou Istchee is more than ready for support groups.
“When I had a flare up I would have liked to have people to talk to,” she continued. “It feels good to know that there are other people in the same situation as you. People in your family and friend circle can be supportive, but I think you can get something different out of having someone that can relate to you with the same condition.”
She said she would give herself an 8 or 9 on a scale of I -10 as far as what she knows about her disease and what to do if her medication doesn’t work or what to ask her doctors. But not everyone can claim such a high number.
Another way to link the nine communities is message boards. It would be great to have a place in cyber space to meet and talk about specific ailments and to learn more about them. Maybe the Cree Health Board could promote and host this cyber solution on their website.
The benefits of support groups include interacting with a person you feel comfortable with and who feels your pain. You get to release your negativity and promote your own healing through positive thoughts. And you also get to talk about things that others just wouldn’t understand.
Eeyou Istchee is a place that needs a lot of healing and support. Many Crees went through residential school and still have not healed properly.
With two major agreements signed with outside governments in under 30 years, the loss of La Grande River and the prospective loss of the Rupert River, time is of the essence to get something going in Eeyou Istchee.
Everyone needs to vent their frustrations and problems and with the current situation that has a mental health professional visit each community every three months, support groups are the next step until the Cree Health Board fixes that problem.