Kira Vallen, Anishnawbe Health Toronto, Two-Spirit/Trans* Traditional Helper
KIRA'S STORY Using Their Experience to Help Others
For Kira Vallen, being a Two-Spirit/Trans* Traditional Helper at Anishnawbe Health Toronto, is not a job, it's a way of life. Kira has worked at AHT since 2018 and facilitates the Two-Spirit Trans* Teaching Circle, a weekly meeting held in a donated pop-up shop in The Village at Church and Wellesley. In addition to the sharing circle, Kira is a Traditional Helper who does outreach and offers peer support to Two-Spirit First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
Kira’s uses Traditional teachings and medicines to help Two Spirit LGBTQ clients to find a good path. Indigenous Two-Spirit LGBTQ people are over represented in the homeless population in Toronto, and are also at higher risk of experiencing violence and attempting suicide.
Calling all Runners, Walkers and Supporters of Anishnawbe Health!
Anishnawbe Health Foundation has been selected as an official charity of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge! Each year, this event raises millions of dollars for local charities. Due to COVID-19, the charity challenge is going virtual. From Oct 1 - 31 participants of all ages can take part in raising donations, for Anishnawbe Health, by walking/running as little as 5K on their own or in socially distanced small groups.
Family and Oshkii Team Deliver Back-to-School Backpacks with the Support of Foundation Donors
September means a return to class (online or in-person) for students in Toronto. This year school, for our clients, looks much different and we wanted to make sure Indigenous youth and children were prepared with backpacks, school supplies, masks and hand sanitizer. The Foundation, with the support of donors, partnered with the Family and Oshkii Youth teams to deliver 80 backpacks to 25 families with school-aged registered children. We want to say a big thank you to our donors for their support and wish all students a healthy and successful year.
Community Health Worker Program staff and students meet in Allan Gardens to kick-off the year.
Training the next generation of Indigenous Community Health Workers Goes Virtual this Year
This year's 2020/21 Community Health Worker Training Program kicked off with a socially-distant meeting in Allan Gardens. The program, in partnership with George Brown College (GBC) and Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment & Training, encourages more community members to go into Community Health as a career. The program has eight students each year. The class does one year of classes, skills upgrading and placement work to learn about offering health care in Indigenous organizations. Successful students enter into GBC’s community worker program’s second year and are eligible for a diploma. The class looks a bit different this year – classwork is on-line courses and with pandemic-safe practical skills training.
We also want to say a “Big Congratulations” to the five AHT/George Brown College 2019/2020 student graduates who received their certificates this year. Their achievement will be celebrated with a virtual graduation event this Fall.
Elisa Levi, Anishnawbe Health Foundation Board Member
Elisa Levi awarded 2020 CMA Dr. Brodie Medical Learner Leadership Award
Congratulations to Anishnawbe Health Foundation Board Member Elisa Levi. Elisa was awarded the 2020 Canadian Medical Association Dr. Brian Brodie Medical Learner Leadership Award in recognition of her exemplary dedication, commitment and leadership as a medical student.
Elisa has spent her entire working life seeking ways to make a difference. Starting out as a dietitian, she’s now midway through medical school, with the goal of becoming a family physician. As an Anishinaabe member of Chippewas of Nawash First Nation and with roots in Elsipogtog First Nation, she sees “significant opportunity to improve health equity that is grounded in Indigenous world views.” She helped develop the First Nations guiding principles for the use and implementation of Canada’s new food guide and was part of the team that developed an Indigenous cancer strategy. After her 2021 graduation, Levi plans to work with rural patients, possibly in her home community on the Bruce Peninsula. Our Foundation is very fortunate to have Elisa as part of our leadership.
Harvey Manning with the Mobile Healing Unit. Photo Credit: Ryan Walsh
Indigenous Toronto & COVID-19: Q&A with Harvey Manning
"When the pandemic hit we knew something had to be done."
Read a Q&A with Harvey Manning, Director of Programs & Services at Anishnawbe Health Toronto, as he discusses the new Mobile Health Unit. The new Mobile Unit travels throughout the city to homeless encampments and to Indigenous Community Housing to provide COVID-19 testing and wrap-around health services including primary care, addiction and mental health counselling as well as housing support. Miigwetch to the Toronto Foundation for shining a spotlight on the Mobile Healing Unit that launched June 1. Over the course of the summer the, Mobile Unit has had over 2,600 client visits.
Midtown Families Building Peace, Justice and Solidarity attend anti-racism rally on June 27, 2020
Dr. Leslie Solomonian and her daughter Rachel.
Youth Come Together to Support Anishnawbe Health
This past summer members of a Toronto neighborhood were moved to action in response to the news of George Floyd’s murder, and held a family-focused anti-racism rally. The event was an opportunity for families to express themselves in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour to learn critical allyship skills. Families marched around the neighbourhood and made various stops at stations geared toward engaging in meaningful conversions with children about race and anti-racism. Participants sang, danced, drew, learned and shared.
When asked how the children reacted to the day’s events, Dr. Leslie Solomonian, parent of two who participated in the rally says, “The children had a great time. They came out, they chanted, held up signs, marched and the big take away was empathy.” She adds, “People in the community wanted to create some sort of family based anti-racism event. We very quickly pulled together a very grassroots COVID-19- appropriate event. It was important to us that we be allies and support groups that are already doing this type of work so we also held a fundraiser to support an Indigenous-led organization, Anishnawbe Health.”
Chi-Miigwetch to the Midtown Families Building Peace, Justice and Solidarity who raised over $300 in support of Anishnawbe Health.
Learn More on how to make a positive impact on the health of your community by hosting a fundraising event for Anishnawbe Health Foundation. Please be sure to follow all public health guidelines on gatherings during the pandemic.
Volunteer Drivers Needed For Food Hamper Deliveries
Do you live in/near Toronto and want to assist vulnerable seniors? Consider volunteering your time with us! We are in need of pairs of volunteers, who are in the same bubble, and own a vehicle to help deliver food hampers. The expected time commitment will be 2.5-3 hours once every-other-week during October to mid-November. PPE, hand sanitzer and gas gift cards will be provided.
Please send an email to email@example.com if you would like to volunteer for this important initiative.
This Indigenous Hub in Toronto Promises a Brighter Future
Anishnawbe Health Toronto was recently featured in the July issue of Azure Magazine. The article shares that the new home for Anishnawbe Health and the Indigenous Hub have been designed and will be built using Indigenous principles.
“We wanted to bring an architecture to the Toronto landscape that represents us culturally. Then of course, our community would see something they could be proud of. The interior spaces had to be able to facilitate our cultural approaches to health and healing – our ceremonies are very important to the healing process.” – Joe Hester, Anishnawbe Health Toronto Executive Director
Rendering of the New Home for Anishnawbe Health Toronto. Photo Credit: Stantec and Two Row Architect
Empty Bowls Event Postponed to 2021
This October would have been the 28th annual Empty Bowls event at the Gardiner Museum. Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event has had to be cancelled but promises to be back in 2021! To-date the Gardiner Museum has raised over $200,000 in support of Anishnawbe Health Toronto.
There are so many people who make this event a huge success year after year - the chefs, potters, Gardiner Museum staff, volunteers and of course the attendees. You are all amazing and we are so thankful for your loyal support. We look forward to sharing soup together again in October 2021.
To view photos from last year's Empty Bowls click here
Orange Shirt Day 2020
Every year on September 30th, we wear orange shirts to honour residential school survivors and to remember those who did not survive. Orange Shirt Day grew out of Phyllis Webstad’s story of having her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at residential school, told for the first time in May 2013. It has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually.
We want to say a big thank you to Old's Cool General Store who have once again supported Indigenous health in Toronto by selling orange t-shirts. Proceeds from the t-shirts, designed by Ojibwe artist Kindhearted Kwe, will be given to the campaign for the new home for Anishnawbe Health Toronto. To date, Old's Cool General Store has raised over $4,000.
Remember to wear orange on Wednesday, September 30th to show your support. Share your photos with the hashtag #supportanishnawbe and we will post on our social media.