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Wisdom: Sharing the importance of mental health

Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) hosting a week of events for Mental Health Week.
Mental Health Week ONWA
ONWA is supporting Mental Health Week with virtual programming.

This week Ontario Native Women’s Association is kicking off a week of events to highlight the importance of mental health.

“This week's events are truly a team effort and would not be possible without the support of ONWA's leadership and staff, their contributions are the foundation of this upcoming week and I would like to thank everyone for their tireless efforts and support,” says Niemi Himes, Mental Health worker and lead liaison of ONWA’s Mental Health Week Activities.

Mental health awareness

Everyone has moments of anxiety and isolation, more so now after a year of staying at home and dealing with mental health head on.

Since the pandemic, youth and minorities have experienced a significant shift in their mental health, with 27.8 per cent of minority groups reporting poor mental health and mental health symptoms.

Mental Health Week is a time to address mental health and identify personal symptoms and how you can overcome any feelings affecting wellbeing.

Mental Health week virtual gatherings

With one in five Canadians reporting high levels of mental distress since the pandemic, ONWA is acknowledging and taking a lead in addressing these stressors and the impact they have, specifically on Indigenous women.

Starting Monday, ONWA is hosting a series of daily virtual gatherings on Zoom and Facebook live in support of the 70th Annual Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week.

To celebrate their kickoff, Al Hunter, a traditional healer, will host an opening prayer followed by a sharing circle to introduce and outline what balanced mental health looks like and ONWA’s hopes for the week ahead.

The sharing circle will be an interactive space for people to feel connected and welcome, a place of community.

Weeklong wellbeing

Following the kickoff ONWA will be hosting daily gatherings from 2 to 3 p.m. EST every day, ranging from a medicine walk to virtual open fire cooking.

“The driving force behind this week’s events are to really open the door to our communities throughout not only Ontario but as far as we can reach to welcome others by offering a safe, interactive and accessible space to educate and support balanced mental health,” says Himes.

While Mental Health Week is only one week, ONWA offers year-round services, monthly programming, and other initiatives to benefit the community.

ONWA’s Mental Health Week begins May 3 at 2 p.m. EST. Registration is open to everyone and can be done through https://forms.office.com/r/hJ4ujLkzce and can be found on ONWA’s Facebook page.