Aboriginal group goes after its goals

Castlegar-area aboriginal residents are represented, and able to be influenced by C.O.I.N.S. group

Elders pictured from left: Gerry Rempel – Secretary Kris Taks – Executive Director Joanie Holmes – Vice-Chair Ganishka Silverfox-Dann – Treasurer And in front

An ambitious society, born about a year and a half ago has made significant local impact and is looking to further raise its profile.

The group is the Circle Of Indigenous Nations Society (C.O.I.N.S), and has reached out to the Castlegar News with information on its goals and activities, including the Strengthening Cultural Connections Aboriginal Women’s/Youth Healing Conference which was offered at Selkirk College’s Gathering Place from August 7 to 9.

“Our society was registered as a non-profit in March 2013,” stated Executive Director Kris Taks in an August 10 email, “and is guided by seven local Aboriginal Elders.”

Along with Taks, there are currently four other staff who work in the Healing our Spirits Mental Health and Addictions Program (funded by Interior Health) and the Aboriginal Family Services Development Program (funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development).

On the near horizon is a West Kootenay and Boundary Aboriginal Early Years Program funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development in partnership with Kootenay Kids Society, Kootenay Family Place, and Boundary Family and Individual Services Society. This program will bring culture and services to early years centres and Aboriginal families with children aged newborn to six.

“This is the first time such a conference has been offered in our region,” Taks described, “and it was well attended with 34 youth/women from across the West Kootenay and Boundary region.”

Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff and Kootenay West M.L.A. Katrine Conroy welcomed attendees to the event funded by the provincial Ministry of Justice. A special guest for the occasion was Brenda McIntyre-Medicine Song Woman from Toronto who offered teachings and healing circles.

“This conference was so important for our community and I feel privileged to have witnessed the awakening of spirits and hearts of the women throughout the three days,” Taks concluded.

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