Many people are saying that they are being overwhelmed by constantly seeing and hearing about the remains of children being found at former Indian Residential School locations. Definitely not cool.

In May, we heard about the remains found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. In June, more unmarked graves near the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

Then, even more remains discovered near the grounds of the former St Eugene’s Mission School in the East Kootenay Region of British Columbia. Now, more found on Penelakut Island, just south west of Vancouver Island. Rest in peace our children.

Of course, it’s shocking when we hear about these children and emotions can come crashing down heavily or in small waves. And Residential School Survivors already have a shared history of pain, sorrow and loneliness.

Some people have begun to tell their stories, opening their wounds once again. Now people are feeling heavy emotions when hearing about the findings. We are a nation in mourning with collective trauma and we are hurting in varying degrees.

It’s important to know what’s going on, and it’s important to know we don’t have to be consumed by this stuff. Be like us. Shut off the news. TV, radio and social media. Do not watch the National all day, which replays the same news over and over and over. Eschia!

It’s better to go online and read about this stuff, so you can control how much you consume. And, listen to music instead. If you want to watch TV. Stay away from the news. Watch Netflix, sports, comedies, soaps, anything except the news.

Managing heavy emotions

Many people experience heavy emotions when they hear about the children, whether they went to Residential School or not. You can manage these emotions by acknowledging the feelings and allowing the wave of emotions to come without judging them.

Tell yourself it’s okay to feel sadness, numbness, confusion and anger. No shame, man.

Now, remind yourself that you are safe and that you are not that little girl or boy who is all alone. Connecting with people is one of our greatest needs, and talking about it helps with healing, so tell your story to people you trust.

A basic principle is to pay close attention to self-care. For instance, take a long deep breath, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale slowly; repeat four times in total. Do this when you begin to feel too anxious and repeat as often as required.

Very, very important, stay away from alcohol and substances; it only makes things worse.

Instead, be around children and babies and do things that bring you joy. For instance, go on the land and experience the elements like fire, water, fresh air, looking at the moon and stars, listening to the birds, and marvelling at nature.

It’s also essential to eat healthy foods and to be active, like going for a boat ride, swimming, fishing, exercising, stretching and going for walks. Listen to upbeat music like drum songs, talk to an Elder, and avoid social media.

You can also write about your feelings, drum, take a hot shower or bath, dance, cook food and invite people over. And so, so important, be sure to get enough sleep.

Some people cry a lot. If you’re like that, be sure to drink plenty of water and herbal teas to stay hydrated, especially when it’s hot.

Go to counselling. If you can’t go for any reason, or if you want to talk confidentially to a free professional counsellor right away, call any time to:

IRS Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419

First Nations Crisis Line: 1-855-242-3310

NWT Help Line: 1-800-661-0844

For communities who want to apply for funds to look for remains, go to Google and put in “Residential schools missing children-community support funding.” It will be the first link that comes up.

Or go to https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1622742779529/1622742809449.

Roy Erasmus

Roy Erasmus Sr. Is a certified wellness counsellor who survived heart disease and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

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