On February 17th, 2018, the Together We Can Addiction Treatment & Education Society and the TWC All My Relations program hosted a winter celebration mini pow wow at Guildford Park Secondary in Surrey, BC, on historic Kwantlen territory and Tsleil-Waututh lands, where tradition, culture, and family were the theme of the day.
Co-sponsored by both the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association and the First Nations Health Authority, the pow wow brought families, dancers, drummers, and elders from many different nations within British Columbia, spanning generations and ages from 6 years old to 70 years old.
According to All My Relations Clinical Coordinator Mike Merrick, the impact on not just the community, but also the All My Relations clients was tangible and palpable.
“For the guys to be part of that ceremony and learn the teachings behind it was a real honor,” said Merrick. “All the guys in our program that helped out had a real sense of accomplishment and a feeling of being a part of something special.”
One of the most educational and meaningful moments of the event came when the entire pow wow was brought to a halt in order for a special ceremony to take place
According to Mike Merrick “During one of the traditional dances a feather fell off of one of the dancers regalia,” he remembers. “When this happens at a pow wow it represents a fallen warrior. What follows is a special protocol, starting with the pow wow abruptly stopping and the MC asking asking for the crowd to be silent. The MC then informs the crowd about what has happened and asks if there are any veterans in attendance.”
What happens after this point is something that still resonates with Mike Merrick.
“Because there was a veteran in the crowd that day,” continues Merrick “he was asked to do a prayer for that feather which then comes to represent a fallen warrior once the prayer has been completed. Traditional dancers circle the feather and lay tobacco on it while a special dance is performed that honors all four directions. Once this is completed, the feather is then given to the veteran so the warrior it represents can carry on in a good way.”
For more information about the TWC All My Relations Program and their First Nations addiction treatment program, click here.
Photo credit: Gail Stephan
On February 10th, 2018 the Together We Can Addiction Recovery and Education Society in partnership with the Camp My Way program and Terrance Kosikar proudly took part in the 24 Hour Tire Flip event in support of PTSD awareness.
The event, which saw supporters and volunteers flip a four hundred pound tire end over end through downtown Vancouver was a fundraiser to honour the memory of a young Olympic athlete, increase awareness about the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and raise funds for Camp My Way; a residential wilderness program for people with PTSD.
Eight years ago, on the opening day of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, a tragic accident resulted in the death of a young Georgian luge athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili. The first person on the scene of the accident was Terrance Kosikar.
As an emergency responder, Kosikar was well-trained in a myriad of life saving techniques, however he was not prepared for the emotional trauma which resulted when he was not able to save the young man’s life. Kosikar developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and his life spiraled out of control.
He lost his career, his family and — as a result of severe depression, anxiety, and substance abuse —Kosikar almost lost his own life.
Kosikar fought back against this devastating disorder and, after finding solace in the peace and beauty of the backcountry near Lillooet, BC, Kosikar became determined to share the healing power of nature with others. In 2015, he began a residential wilderness program called Camp My Way to help emergency service providers who are struggling with PTSD to get their lives back and reconnect with their family and friends through teamwork, self-discipline, meditation, exercise, nutrition and sharing positive experiences in a natural environment.
Over the past several years, Kosikar has symbolically demonstrated the struggle of PTSD by flipping a large tractor tire across great distances or up mountains. For the fundraising event on February 10th, Kosikar and his team literally did the heavy lifting by flipping the four hundred pound tire around the Stanley Park Seawall for twenty four kilometers in twenty four hours.
In Canada, 235 first responders have died by suicide over the last 3 years alone. As a result of daily exposure to trauma, 15 out of 20 will struggle with a Operational Stress Injury (PTSD).
Together We Can and Camp My Way would like to thank all the volunteer and supporters who came out and made the event the huge success it was.