When Christine (not her real name) began treatment sessions at Eyaa-Keen Healing Centre Inc., she never believed her life would be altered so dramatically, or that the changes that would happen to her would be so incredibly positive.
“I thought I had healed as much as anyone could,” she reflects. “I believed that I had come a long way from the damaged girl I once was, but that progression had to stop somewhere just as it had begun.”
Christine had undergone more than 10 years of treatment for depression and anxiety under the supervision of many counsellors, a psychologist, and a medical doctor. She says she had resigned herself to a life of pain, where all she could do was merely cope.
“I never believed that I could become free … But I was willing to try.”
Christine says she’s grateful Eyaa-Keen Healing Centre was willing to help her. “They encouraged me to begin my journey,” she says. “Their encouragement was my driving force.”
In the months that followed, Christine engaged as vigorously as she could with the Behavioural Health Program at Eyaa-Keen Healing Centre. She attended regular one-on-one sessions with her Behavioural Health Specialists; partook in sweat lodge, smudging and other ceremonies; ultimately experiencing all the healing effects the program had to offer.
Christine learned that these ways were not a quick fix, but a way of life that would lead her to greater mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
“I began to understand that I had come as far as I could without being on my own side,” she explains. “I had abandoned myself in an effort to steer clear of further harm or pain. I learned I needed to reconnect with my inner self and live again for me – in doing so, every aspect of my life improved because I improved; because I was no longer angry. I was able to give my pain and anger away to Creator and begin living my life in a good way.”
Christine goes on to explain that as she changed, so did the world around her, and that the many unhealthy aspects in her life would only change through her own acknowledgement and action.
“I understood that the people I once called friend might no longer be held in that same esteem … and that the road ahead was not straight … that it would wind, that some hills would be steep and others smooth … that I would come to forks in the road and have to trust myself to take the right path.”
Christine feels that Eyaa-Keen is ever present, as that she has discovered more than a healing centre.
“I have found a place to belong. Eyaa-Keen does not shut the door once treatment is complete, they understand healing is a life long journey and seem committed to be by my side as long as I need,” says Christine who continues her work with Eyaa-keen Healing Centre.
“Because of our experiences and our own process of overcoming issues and difficulties in our lives with the help of our Elder’s training and guidance, we have been able to get back to our natural ways of healing, growing and becoming,” says Mel Chartrand, Lead Behavioural Health Specialist, and Co-Director of Eyaa-Keen Healing Centre.
“As Knowledge Keepers we are able to pass along what we have learned, helping others to reclaim the essence of Spirit. We are partners in the healing process of the individual – it’s a 50/50 thing,” he says.
“We can talk and teach as much as we like, but the individual has to really want to change for it work,” adds Shirley Chartrand, Lead Behavioural Health Specialist and Co-Director of Eyaa-Keen Healing Centre.
“Christine applied what we taught her,” says Ms. Chartrand. “We were the appropriate teachers and were able to connect with her. She didn’t just believe what we were teaching, but she knew [on a spiritual level]. We were able to teach her that when she made decisions from an angry place, the result she would see came from an angry place. However, if she made decisions after she released the anger she was feeling to Creator, the results she would see would come from a calm and good place.”
Eyaa-Keen Healing Centre Inc. was created by Indigenous People for Indigenous People. The centre provides services which parallel the western clinical system, infusing it with a unique form of Indigenous Traditional based trauma therapy, treatment and psychological rehabilitation. In 1999, co-founders Mel and Shirley Chartrand recognized a need for innovative programs designed for Indigenous adults, couples and groups to address personal and community development, healing and change.
With the support of The Winnipeg Foundation and The United Way of Winnipeg, the vision of Shirley and Mel Chartand has taken form; propelling them, the organization and its dedicated staff towards helping Indigenous people recover and heal in a good way, for a good life.
Eyaa-Keen is an Internationally Accredited Organization through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) International, and has recently celebrated its third consecutive three year accreditation.