A new men’s wellness group is planning an entire winter of social activities, ranging from barbecues to ice fishing trips, meeting every Wednesday.
Now in its third week of operation, the Cabin Men’s Group is still in the meet and greet phase of the program, but occupational therapist Rachel Schooley of Cloudberry Wellness says the group will be moving to more hands-on activities as time goes on.
“We’ll be doing various activities from now until the end of March,” said Schooley. “Any community activity is good for mental health. Nobody’s required to have difficulties with mental health to come. It’s geared towards men, just to be together and hang out and learn from each other.
“People are in different walks of life, so if somebody’s struggling they can talk to someone who’s been through it. It’s to promote positive masculinity.”
Organized in partnership between Cloudberry Wellness, Gwich’in Tribal Council, the Nihtat Gwich’in Council, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and GNWT Health and Social Services, the group meets every at the Nihtat Gwich’in Council tents at 1:30 p.m. every Wednesday.
Aside from providing guys with an environment to relax and socialize, the weekly barbecues also are planning sessions for the next activities. Schooley said much of the groups activities would be directed by what the guys want to do. Schooley said there would be opportunities for men to learn traditional, on the land skills from Elders as well.
“Sometimes we’ll meet at Nihtat and we’ll be doing activities like fishing,” she said. “There’s also potential for hunting, or going out on the land and building a tent frame. It’s really going to be informed by what the guys want, but there is a curriculum that we’ll be following in terms of how to promote wellness, strong familial relationships, friendships and overall health and well being for the men in the community.
“There’s a variety of knowledge holders working with this program, so we’re going to try and hit all of the areas the guys would like to see.”
The group is open to anyone who identifies as a male, as long as they’re at least 16 years old. Schooley said the group has so far attracted men ranging from youth to Elders.
Schooley said she had funding to keep the program going for a year, through the GTC which was able to get the funding from the GNWT.