Cultural Access and Connection for Indigenous Women

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TOP IMAGE © Courtesy of the Native Women’s Resource Centre

The Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto (NWRCT) began when a dedicated group of Indigenous women recognized the need for a gathering place in Toronto. 

A place where Indigenous women could share resources, support one another, and practice their traditional ways. A registered charity, the NWRCT provides a safe and welcoming environment for all Indigenous women and children in the Greater Toronto Area, providing access to basic rights items, housing support, community wellness, family and children programming, employment, and education support. NWRCT offers cultural healing along with access to ceremonies and two in-house Traditional Practitioners/Healers.

In over three decades of service, NWRCT has been able to increase its cultural ceremonies by offering in-person and virtual one-on-ones, monthly full moon and shake tent ceremonies. The centre also provides a variety of sharing and teaching circles. Throughout the pandemic, NWRCT has maintained weekly drumming circles, drum making, medicine teachings, naming ceremonies for children and women and key programming to enhance cultural connection.

The centre provides Traditional Medicines, along with traditional tools such as ribbon skirt making, drums, rattles, medicine bags and support along with each item.

Operationally in professional development, the staff continue to have access to healers and participate in sharing/teaching circles to promote cultural capacity and wellness among the team.

It is a privilege to have the opportunity to learn Anishinaabemowin with the language program of the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto. Our class has developed a bond of friendship as we help, support and encourage each other while we learn to speak this beautiful language. Every week I look forward to the time we share in our little family learning and growing together.

Tammy Patrick, NWRCT member
Indigenous Women Resource centre - front of native women's resource centre of tonroto building © Image Courtesy of Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto, Indigenous Women's resource centre
Front of Building © Image Courtesy of Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto

NWRCT also promotes the active use of firekeepers from various clients, community members, and staff to encourage responsibility and support individual and community empowerment. NWRCT regularly holds sacred fires for community healing and honouring in the past year and then expanded it to “connected fires,” with five fires being held across Canada at connected times. This came about as a response to the pandemic, the findings of unmarked graves, and the ongoing stressors that Indigenous women face in this country.

It has been an invaluable experience and such a pleasure to connect, share and learn with others in the group who have been an integral part of this deeply enriching and life-affirming journey! I hope that we can continue to grow and learn together in the future.

Saira N’dishnikaas, NWRCT member

NWRCT offers an opportunity for reconnection to ceremony and culture to build the confidence and capacity within the woman and to strengthen the family unit. We do this through a harm reduction and protocol flexible approach to healing and access. We know that some of the most vulnerable moments in life are when one might need the most access and connection. We know by leading in this way, women will continue to heal and find their connection and protection with the spirit.

For more information, please visit our website www.nwrct.ca

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Today, the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto provides a safe and welcoming environment for all Indigenous women and their children in the Greater Toronto Area.

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