Siloam Mission takes a step further into ReconciliACTION

Siloam Mission ended the year on a healing note, with construction completed on two Indigenous-designed spaces built to offer First Nations, Inuit and Métis community members an opportunity to restore their dignity and reconnect to Indigenous practices.

Rendering of Na a way Ishkode

In February 2024, Na a way Ishkode (Centre Fire in Anishinaabemowin) will officially open under the guidance of Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, providing traditional healing and sacred teachings, all under Siloam’s roof.

“Na a way Ishkode is the result of an Indigenous-led process – from the design, naming and planning of its use – the space is a gift to our relatives and future generations. We are so grateful to the partners who supported Siloam in dreaming big for our community,” said Christine Vanagas, Director of Community Wellness.

Designed to remind one of a teaching lodge, the space will host Sharing Circles, Indigenous teachings, and Elder Supports. A feature that makes Na a way Ishkode unique is its increased ventilation, which allows for Indigenous practices, like smudging. There is also a fire pit in an adjacent exterior space where a sacred fire can be built for Community Memorials and other ceremonies. The area will benefit Indigenous community members experiencing poverty and homelessness by providing access to a culturally appropriate space and services that can assist with grief and promote healing.

Na a Way Ishkode was largely made possible by a very generous gift from The Dorothy Strelsin Foundation. Additional funding from The Winnipeg Foundation and the Province of Manitoba also helped make the Indigenous cultural space a reality. 

We designed the Longtin Resource Centre to offer different pathways to healing. In September 2010, the centre opened, thanks to funding provided by Paul & Theresa Longtin. The centre offers an environment that fosters growth and education for men and women in our community.

The Longtin Resource Centre will house Siloam Mission’s Art and Wellness program. The program has been expanded and revamped in the new space to better suit our community’s changing needs.

The Art and Wellness program allows community members another means of healing through various creative media. In addition to addressing trauma through artistic expression, it is also becoming a means to support housing and financial independence. When community members’ creations are complete, they are also provided with the option to sell their art on www.art.siloam.ca

Eighty per cent goes right to the artist, with the other 20 per cent going straight back into the art program to buy supplies so all community members can continue to benefit.

These spaces allow Indigenous practices and teachings to happen at Siloam Mission, helping us live into our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation.

“The beauty of the newly constructed spaces is a physical reflection of the vision provided by the Knowledge Keepers, Indigenous staff and community partners when dreaming about a space that would celebrate Indigenous knowledge and practices. It is exciting to see this space now be one of healing and reconnection to Indigenous teachings,” said Christine.