Lurleen Ashkwe was presented with the 2021 Dorothy Wynne Achievement Award by the Ontario Native Woman’s Association during its 50th Annual General Assembly and Leadership Conference.
“I was shocked, but, it was just that recognition, like, I couldn’t believe it when they called my name, it was very wonderful,” said Ashkwe,
“I was very honoured, let me tell you, to win this award, but, I’d also like to share that award with all my staff because we can’t do this work without the team.”
Ashkwe was recognized with this award due to the commitment and dedication she has shown with her work for and with Orillia Native Women's Group especially during such a trying time as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve been here, I actually started in 2015 I believe, so, it’s been a journey and I love what I do, I love working with the families and being there and being able to support a sister of our indigenous community, It’s been amazing,” Askwe said.
Lurleen has been involved in Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program and Community Action Program for Children for the past few years and worked tirelessly to make sure her programs continued during the pandemic.
The Community Action Programs for Children's goals are to inform parents and children of obesity and diabetes complications and to teach good nutrition, provide traditional teachings and healing methods to address physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being for families and to end social isolation through parent/child relationship building, and to use traditional teachings to teach healthy child development
The Canada Prenatal and Nutrition Program goals are to strengthen a positive cultural identity through culture awareness, increase knowledge and awareness of healthy pre- and postnatal nutrition for parents and children, provide, promote and improve the health of pre- and postnatal mothers by encouraging physical activity and play and to increase awareness for pre- and postnatal mothers about child development and child rearing.
With programs such as these, the importance of maintaining them even through the pandemic is clear and building a relationship with clients who attend these programs is essential.
“Of course, you know, at first, it was with the Zoom, so that was a learning experience for everyone, but also getting the families on board and staying connected with them, so, we were able to,” said Ashkwe,
“I’m so happy for the Indigenous organizations, our partners that we have been partnering up with, ONWG is a non-profit organization, we don’t get a lot of funding, we get donations, but, we also partner with those other organizations where we were able to support our families and get them connected with technology.”
Ashkwe is also know by name by every member of Orillia Native Woman’s Group and she attributes those great social relationships with members to the similar experience she shares with many other women who join ONWG.
“I had moved here with my two younger girls and the first thing I did was reach out to an Indigenous organization which was ONWG, so, I came here as a single mother looking for that support and to learn about my teachings and culture because I didn’t grow up with that,” said Ashkwe.
“I’ve learned everything that I know about my culture and all the teachings from Orillia Native Women’s Group, and so, I’ve been able to connect with our families, with our moms, because I know exactly what they went through, you know, being a single mom, a teen mom, going through the struggles.”
For more information about Orillia Native Woman’s Group and their programs, visit their website.
For more information about Ontario Native Women’s Association, visit their website.