Ontario First Nations celebrate 20 years of Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy

First Nations organizations in Ontario are commemorating 20 years of programs and funding through the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy (AHWS) at a two-day anniversary conference in Thunder Bay. The event will welcome more than 300 attendees on November 19-20 to recognize the programs and people that have provided vital services to First Nations communities for two decades.

Several awards will be given to AHWS workers for their commitment and dedication in their communities. The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI) has put forth two award recipients – Jeanine George and Tina Howard.

“Jeanine and Tina have dedicated a significant portion of their careers to community healing work through AHWS,” said AIAI Grand Chief Gordon Peters. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to recognize them both for their outstanding contributions.”

George is the Shelter Supervisor at the Onyota’a:ka Family Healing Lodge in Oneida and has been with the AHWS program for 19 of the 20 years it has been running. Howard is the Assistant Health Director at Hiawatha LIFE Services and has been with the program for 15 years.

As part of the celebration, event organizers have produced a video to celebrate the positive impacts the program has had in the communities, and to honour the dedication of the health workers. The video will also include a tribute to Carol Hill, the former AHWS director at AIAI who passed away in December 2010 after 12 years of service to the strategy.

“I salute the many community workers whose eagerness and commitment has forged a significant impact in providing traditional and culturally appropriate healing and wellness programs,” said AIAI Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish. “And, to my friend Carol Hill, while you are with us in spirit, I also salute you for your dedication and commitment during your time with the Strategy.”

AIAI’s seven member first Nations have received more than $45 million over the 20 years to provide a broad suite of programs and services through AHWS. These include two family violence shelters, 16 community wellness workers, seven Healthy Babies/Healthy Children workers, support for mental health programs, and the operation of a Health/Social Advisory Board.

AIAI is mandated as a Provincial Territorial Organization (PTO) to defend and enhance the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of our seven member First Nations. Our member nations include: Batchewana First Nation, Caldwell First Nation, Delaware Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Oneida Nation of the Thames, and the Wahta Mohawks. Learn more at www.aiai.on.ca, on Twitter@AIAI_comms and on Facebook.

For more information, please contact Suzanne Morrison at smorrison@aiai.on.ca or 519.281.6238.