All My Relations Elders Program
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This project aims to increase MNSYY participants’ wellness and sense of positive identity through connection to Indigenous culture, spirituality and Indigenous Elders to address the many intergenerational effects of residential schools and colonialism.

VNHS offers services that help rebuild and support change and growth for community members.

The MNSYY Elders program allows for self enhancement and cultural knowledge to enhance participants knowledge, supports, skills and quality of life. In response to community demand, in 2014, we began the Elders program and cultural circles to VNHS. The goal of this program is to directly address culture-identity as a focus in improving the resilience and healing journey.

Mmooooooke Sii Yea Ya (MSNYY) All My Relations Elders

Program Vision

To support participants in their journey towards a more positive self-identity through connection to Indigenous culture & spirituality via ceremony and relationship to Elders as part of their routine health care. To transform Vancouver Native Health Society (VNHS) that meaningfully offers both modern and traditional Indigenous approaches to health and healing.

Program description

This project aims to increase MNSYY participants’ wellness and sense of positive identity through connection to Indigenous culture, spirituality and Indigenous Elders to address the many intergenerational effects of residential schools and colonialism. The Cultural Teaching Circle (CTC) was developed in response to the feedback received from the Community and Elders Advisory Committee meetings.
Indigenous Elders and community members will facilitate CTC, but the participants will drive the content of the circle – themes of the weekly circle will be, “Culture, Ceremony, Celebration and Community”. Client engagement within the CTC will provide informal opportunities to make social connections with other community members and to connect with various VNHS staff that can provide multiple levels of support and community resources.

These include:

  • One to one counselling sessions with Indigenous Elders
  • Access to healthcare providers
  • Access to Indigenous ceremony – Sweat lodge, Burning ceremony, Seasonal feasts, etc
  • Therapeutic listening
  • Advocacy
  • Referrals to many forms of health and social services – including detox centers, alcohol and drug counselling, and housing support
  • Other services available at VNHS – Cancer Aware program, Positive Outlook program, VNHS Daycares and engaging effectively participant self referrals to the VNHS Medical clinic.

MNSYY Program’s goals

The impacts of colonialization, inter-generational and ongoing traumas have left many with a negative or absent connection to their Indigenous community or cultural identity.
Cultural identity and affiliation have been associated with positive mental health and substance misuse outcomes and the ability to get through life challenges for Indigenous Peoples.

  • To measurably increase our patients’ wellness, resilience and sense of positive identity through the connection to Indigenous culture/spirituality
  • Improve the health of Indigenous peoples, families and communities
  • Address historical trauma and restore Indigenous culture
  • Reconnect to Indigenous culture through relationships with Indigenous Elders and participation in cultural activities
  • Promote health and wellbeing for individuals and their families
  • Strengthen positive Indigenous identity

Cultural teaching circles

Build healthy relationships within the community Cultural Teaching Circles at VNHS (CTC)

A cornerstone of the program has been the creation of a weekly Cultural Teaching Circle every Thursday from 2-4pm at VNHS. Circles have been held every single Thursday during this reporting period, except for a 2-week break over the two Christmas seasons. This group continues to be a vibrant, valuable, and significant place to be on Thursday afternoons with 10 – 20 participants in attendance. Some come regularly and most return. Within this weekly group we do not see many unique participants in attendance.

MNSYY Program Cultural activities include:

  • Engaging in seasonal ceremonies; Summer, Spring, Winter and fall ceremony
  • Making of traditional medicine bundle
  • Making tobacco ties for prayers and personal well being
  • Introduction to making jewelry – beading, earrings, bracelets, and feather holders
  • Cedar weaving projects- rosehips pins, headbands and bracelets
  • Holiday crafts – wreaths, bows, medicine wheels and dream catchers
  • Drum making – each participant will take home their drum home
  • Guest Elders to share traditional drum songs
  • Prayer and traditional song teachings
  • Holistic wellness and teachings of the traditional medicine wheel
  • Group outings to seasonal and sweat lodge ceremonies
  • Harvesting and medicine teachings
  • Eating traditional foods

These include therapeutic listening, advocacy by working with a Social worker as well as; referrals to many forms of health or social justice services – including detox centers, alcohol and drug counselling and housing support.


Chelsea Bowers
Elder's Program Coordinator
449 East Hasting Street
Vancouver, BC V6A 1P5
Telephone: (604) 254-9949 ext. 232
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.