Shkaabe Makwa at CAMH is the first hospital-based Centre in Canada designed to drive culturally-responsive systems initiatives to achieve health justice and wellness for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities through the advancement of research, workforce development and innovative healing models that harmonize traditional knowledge and medical expertise.
We believe that culture is central to healing and wellness
As we move forward with CAMH’s agenda for reconciliation, we put forth a new name and way of talking about our work that recognizes how we seek help and guidance from the Spirit World. When this spiritual name emerged in the spring of 2018, our team (formerly Aboriginal Engagement and Outreach) gathered in the Ceremony Room at CAMH. For hours we sat together and prayed, smoked traditional pipe, shared our thoughts and made offerings to the Bear. We began to move forward with this new name and acknowledged that our team has been walking with the Bear for years. We believe that the Bear emerged as a symbol for us as we all felt a cultural connection whether we were First Nations, Inuit or Métis. For some of us, we acknowledge the Bear as “medicine,” and others as a “knowledge keeper, protector and healer.”
We also know that over time, several First Nations lived in the traditional territory of what is now called Toronto – and more specifically, the Mississaugas camped and held council meetings on the site of our Queen Street campus. It is for this reason that we will honour our name in the Anishinaabe language. Shkaabe Makwa translates to “Spirit Bear Helper.”
Miigwech, Renee Linklater
CAMH has a very special relationship with the land at its main campus at Queen Street West. In the colonial records, the land has been described as the Council grounds of the Mississaugas of the New Credit. This preferred location allowed for camping for the hundreds of Mississaugas who travelled by canoe to conduct the governance of their Nation, trade, and engage in negotiations for treaty making and land transactions.
In its current form, (version française) the Land Acknowledgement signals the organization’s commitment to reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis – and promises to embrace the ancient Indigenous healing traditions and harmonize them with current caring practices, create new relationships and partnerships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis and share the land and protect it for future generations.
The Land Acknowledgement can be found in all Units and public buildings at CAMH.
To access “Guidance for Honouring the Land and Ancestors Through Land Acknowledgements,” click here.
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