Jill Larkin & Leonard McPherson
Warrior Caregiver Program
While many of us plan ahead for a post-vaccine world, two of Churchill Manitoba's Health Care Heroes are making productive use of the downtime to put the finishing touches on a new program aimed at promoting wellness and good mental health in the northern community.
Jill Larkin and Leonard McPherson are spearheading the innovative Warrior Caregiver Program, a new, land-based education program for men offered in Churchill. The program is the result of a partnership between the Subarctic Friendship Circle (a community service club operated by the Churchill Health Centre, an operating division of the WRHA) and Movember Canada, a leading charity aimed at changing the face of men's health. The hope is that by offering land-based workshops on traditional activities such as hunting, camping, trapping, boating or dogsledding, more men in the community will be able to gain the structure they need to feel better connected, build their resilience and share knowledge with their families and the community.
Jill and Leonard were already hard at work on program development activities when the community was put into Code Red due to COVID-19. They are using the extra time to seek input from local Knowledge Keepers - Indigenous elders and well-respected community members who have a deep commitment to mentorship and land-based learning.
In addition to program development and equipment gathering, the team has also started renovating a new wellness centre on Simpson Street that will be home to the Warrior Caregiver Program and other community initiatives. They even cut down a Christmas tree for official use by the town, with Manitoba Hydro chipping in with lighting and decorations.
The preparation work is already generating a lot of buzz, with several men already having expressed an interest in participating in the Warrior Caregiver Program when it is able to officially launch. Though the programming has yet to be finalized, all aspects will include opportunities for the participants to "give back" to the community. For instance, the meat from animals harvested in hunts will be shared within the community.
Though the program will initially be restricted to residents of Churchill, Jill and Leonard hope that it will eventually expand to expand to residents of other northern communities.
Thank you Jill and Leonard for your hard work to date! With community spirit like yours, and with the help of your Knowledge Keeper colleagues, the Warrior Caregiver Program is sure to make a positive impact.