By Michele Woitzik
Osoyoos Indian Band
The Winter Wellness Camp 2019 was organized by OIB’s Health Promoting School Coordinator, Jennifer Martin who works with four Okanagan Band Schools in the nation to promote mental wellness, positive school environment, physical fitness and nutrition. This position is funded by Interior Health.
The Winter Wellness Camp is planned for a time of year when spirits can be low and physical activity may be more limited due to less outdoor play and activities with shorter daylight. Intermediate Students from Sensiyusten, Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School and Senpaqcin went up Camp Boyle in Summerland for three days of winter fun, cultural teachings and bonding with new friends.
Jennifer Martin was quoted as saying,
“When looking at key factors that positively influence mental health; physical activity, Cultural connectivity, healthy eating, and positive social relationships, the idea of the Winter Wellness Camp began to take shape. Gathering students and staff together to learn strategies aimed at promoting positive Mental Health. Where better to do this than on snowshoes, ice fishing, or around a crackling fire. Students not only hear the messages of health, but get to experience them. It is a life long memory.”
There were many workshops and activities offered to the students over the three-day camp.
Hoodoo Adventures and BC Parks both offered outdoor education activities including snowshoeing, lessons about winter adaptations of different animals and tree identification.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge Keepers and Cultural Resource People shared information about winter survival knowledge, shelter building, powwow dancing, traditional tools, hunting and chaptik’w (Okanagan cultural stories) with the students. RCMP came to play outdoor games with the students and to learn from the Cultural Teachers. Okanagan Nation members; Herman Edwards, Gus Timoyakin, Clint George and Mario Hall all shared their teaching with children and adults alike.
The students’ moods were boosted with some time to dance. The Hip Hop artist, Afternoon, from Montreal came and offered hip hop dance instruction sessions in the main hall and Anita Large taught Powwow dance and ended her session with a big friendship dance.
Students also learned the importance of team work when it came to preparing meals and cleaning up the camp kitchen and cabins.
It was an amazing opportunity for our kids to connect to all aspects of their mental wellness; including spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual components. It was the second annual event and all students were gifted with Winter Wellness Camp 2019 sweatshirts provided by Fortis BC and Greyback Construction. The camp was funded by the First Nation’s Health Authority and Dash.