The Anishinabek Family Well-Being Programme. An Innovative, Holistic Approach to Supporting Families.

Celeste McKay - B.S.W., LL.B., LL.M.,shared insight into Review of Legal Tools & Recommendations for Shelters/Safe Spaces - at AFWB training, Sept.13,2017 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

40 Anishinabek Nation communities took part in the first ever training session for The Anishinabek Family Well-Being Programme (AFWB) in Sault Ste. Marie on Sept. 12 & 13, 2017. ‘Family Well-being Programme’ translates to ‘Dodem Mino Bemaadzing Nokiiwin Naakingewin.’

The AFWB programme is framed with culture and prevention as important components to healthy and successful outcomes for indigenous families. Over 40 front-line workers and leaders from within the indigenous social services sector took part in the training at The Quattro Hotel and Convention Centre.

Move to the Music. Lemon Cree’s founder Theresa Ducharme encouraged attendees at the AFWB sessions to take a fitness break. Sept. 12,2017

Laureen Linklater, Family Well-Being Coordinator – Anishinabek Nation, played a central role in the organization of the Anishinabek Family Well-being training. “This training is the first one for the Anishinabek Nation for Family Well-being ever.” she said.

The training brought about 50 people together in Sault Ste. Marie on Sept. 12 – 13, 2017 at the Quattro Hotel and Convention Centre. “People are motivated to learn – They are invested in the programme (AFWB) and see this as a new journey for their community and they’re ready to do the work.” shared Linklater. “AFWB provides a holisitic approach to family well-being.”

Lemon Cree’s founder Theresa Ducharme had everyone up and on their feet at the training session on Tuesday, Sept. 12th.

Lemon Cree is an Indigenous Owned Fitness and Wellness company that works closely with First Nations and Non-First Nations communities to promote active and healthy lifestyles.

Lemon Cree’s founder Theresa Ducharme at AFWB. She brought fitness message to the training sessions held in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Tuesday, Sept.12,2017. Also pictured is Laureen Linklater, Family Well-Being Coordinator – Anishinabek Nation.

“Lemon Cree jumps starts fitness and wellness programmes in indigenous communities. My whole approach is mind, body, spirit. There’s not one mold for everyone.” she said. “We talk about nutrition and stress, and work with people to build healthy communities, with fitness as an important tool to overall health.”

Theresa Ducharme is a Métis-Cree-Saulteaux who was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As one of Canada’s first indigenous models in the 1970’s, Ducharme worked all over the globe including China. At the age of 14, she was a National Fashion Model for runways and print ads for Gambles, Eaton’s, The Hudson Bay, Sears and more.

Ducharme certified as a fitness instructor in 2006 while she was working for ‘Sisters In Spirit’ (2005 – 2009). She said it was very important for her to have a physical outlet because of the demands and trauma associated with her work with ‘Sisters In Spirit’.

“Lemon Cree was born in Montreal in 2010.” she said. “I wanted to do something that inspired people to take care of themselves. I wanted to be a voice that supported the physical health of our people.”

Her first venture took her to the James Bay Cree in northern Quebec. Now in her 11th year, Lemon Cree has expanded right across Canada.

Lemon Cree works in many spaces, including women’s shelter where she hopes that the tool of fitness will empower women. Duscharme works with both men and women to harness the power of fitness as a tool to general well-being.

“We train trainers where we travel – We don’t just go in there and leave – We teach individuals on how to lead fitness programmes so that they can continue when we leave.”

With 129 trainers in various communities across Canada, Lemon Cree takes a holistic approach to meet people on their fitness journey. “We start where people are on the fitness spectrum. To build a healthy strong community, we start with the individual.” she said.

Duscharme encouraged attendees of the AFWB training to include fitness in the programming they offer in their communities. “Strength training, cardio, balance, nutrition, flexibility, range of motion – These things are all connected. Mind – Body Spirit.” she said. “Our classes are for everybody – They’re safe. Everybody is equal. We have natural chemicals in our body – endorphins, serotonins – and we only get those when we are moving our body. Fitness is a great way to deal with stress. I chose to deal with my stress through fitness – It worked really well for me.”

Ducharme said that Lemon Cree uses the medicine wheel concept. “We heal together. None of us are exempt from stress in our lives. How we deal with it can support our healing journey – fitness can be instrumental in that journey.”

Ducharme encouraged attendees to think about solitude in their busy lives. “Be still sometimes – Silence your mind – Shut down. Go into your favourite place and clear your mind – Be silent. If you’re mind is constantly busy, you can’t be open to receiving Spirit. Find a quiet place – even for a minute.”

“It’s never too early or too late to begin your fitness journey” she said.

To learn more about Lemon Cree, : click here

Move to the Music. Lemon Cree’s founder Theresa Ducharme encouraged attendees at the AFWB sessions to take a fitness break. Sept. 12,2017

The Anishinabek Family Well Being Seminars also included a presentation by M. Celeste McKay, who shared insight into the legal information tool kit that the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence (NACAFV) produced.

Titled ‘Anangosh’ – meaning ‘star’ in the Algonquin language, Celeste McKay (B.S.W., LL.B., LL.M.) authored the manual.

“The manual is designed to help Indigenous women and service providers address key aspects of violence, as well as understand Indigenous women’s legal rights on matters related to leaving a violent relationship. It discusses legal tools for women’s safety, and provides information about relevant legal protections.” she said.

The manual begins with an explanation of the rights-based framework to addressing violence against Indigenous women, and of the historical and social context that impacts Indigenous women in Canada.

NACAFV’s Legal Information and Training Toolkit (NLITT) Project’s national consultations were conducted in 2016 with fifty (50) transition houses and women’s shelter leaders from across the country. The purpose of ‘Anangosh’ is to in help Indigenous women and children and survivors of violence, navigate through the Canadian legal system.

To download the manual, go here: