A Day of Indigenous Health & Wellness

The Season of Planting, Healing, Wellness & Growth

June 18, 2021

A Virtual Wellness Gathering featuring the wisdom and lived-experiences of Indigenous Healers, Leaders, Elders and Artists.

Ideal for individuals impacted by serious illness, grief and loss and those who care for and about them.


A Day of Indigenous Health & Wellness

First Nations people across Canada have long been disproportionately and deeply impacted by grief and loss in their communities. The global pandemic has further compounded this situation: creating deep wells of social isolation, heightened anxiety, stress and painful separation from cultural traditions, family gatherings and rituals that are an integral part of First Nations healing and wellness practices.

At the Camp Kerry Society, we have long- believed that there is a direct correlation between our ability to respond to traumatic events with courage and resilience, and our experience of being embedded in a nurturing community.

We invite you to join members of our team alongside our panel of incredible Indigenous Elders/Leaders/Healers/Artists  as we gather in community for a day of wellness that will provide insight, knowledge and inspiration for all those seeking light in the darkness of grief and hope for the future.  








Joe Keesickquayash

Joe Keesickquayash


Joe Keesickquayash, is of Ojibway and Cree background from Mishkeegogamang Ontario, and Red Sucker Lake, Manitoba. He is a father of five and has one grandchild. Joe graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Indigenous Studies and History. Currently Joe is working towards starting his own Indigenous craft business, and attends traditional ceremonies throughout the year.

In 2017, Joe and his family experienced the loss of their three year old son, who was born with a rare genetic condition During his son’s odyssey, Joe and his family remained hopeful that a diagnosis would be found to bring understanding to their son’s medical journey, and more so, to help support their grief journey. 

Although the path to find a diagnosis was challenging as a father, Joe hopes that by sharing his grief journey, and his traditional approaches to understanding grief, he can help others who are experiencing grief and loss.


My Grief Journey

Joe will share some of his experiences of being a husband, father, and grandfather and how his traditional teachers have helped him to overcome loss.

Shirley David

Shirley David

Therapist/Cultural Teacher

Shirley David (MISW), originally from the Gitxsan/Witset First Nation, she grew up with the Secwepemc people.

Shirley graduated with Master of Indigenous Social Work (MISW) and Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work (BISW). She has Addictions Counselor Certificate; Aboriginal Life Skills Facilitator Certificate; Aboriginal Trauma Certificate. She also completed courses/programs from the Justice Institute of British Columbia.

Shirley has over 40 years of professional and Traditional /cultural teachings not only came from the western teachings, but also from Spiritual and Cultural Teachers and Elders.

Shirley is qualified and experienced in both Traditional Indigenous based teachings and contemporary western base teachings.

Shirley is the RHSW /Therapist with Indian Residential School Survivors Society for the past 10 years.


Self-care & Wellness with the Medicine Wheel
Thomas Terry

Thomas Terry

Language/Cultural Teacher

Hello everyone I am Emhalhtsa7 , other wise known as Thomas Terry. I was born and raised St’at’imc and am proud of it. I am culturally strong due to my upbringing within our culture, hearing the language and songs throughout my life. I have been a Language/Culture Teacher for 6 years but have been doing it all my life. Am a hand drummer, a Bear dancer, still learning St’at’imc. Clean and sober for 23 years


Traditional Singing and Dancing
Susan Dowan

Susan Dowan

Indigenous Recruiter/Alumni

Susan Dowan is of Swampy Cree background from Opaskwayak Cree Nation and Gods Lake Narrows – located in Manitoba’s Treaty 5 territory. She is a mother of five and grandmother of one.  After graduating from the University of Toronto, she worked with Indigenous women and families at risk of violence for a number of years. Currently Susan works for a reconciliation project called Circles for Reconciliation. 


A Mother's Journey Through Grief

In Anishnawbe teachings we are told that our children are given to us as gifts. We are given memories that span over moments to decades. As mothers, and life-givers, the  journey through grief of losing a child through miscarriage, still born, or child loss at any age is a journey that is never-ending. Learning to heal, grow, and find purpose again while on this journey of grief is possible.

Vernon Williams Jr.

Vernon Williams Jr.


Sgaalaanglaay, Gaamdaamaay (Vernon Williams Jr.) belongs to Kuunlaanaas Raven Grizzly Bear of Yakin Point Haida Gwaii, Vernon is a Haida Nishga.

His work involves traditional teachings that  have been passed down from wonderful mentors. Vernon offers brushings with feather or cedar fan for water cleansing, he leads fire ceremonies and is an artist of drum making, flutes, rattles and protection necklaces.
Vernon has participated in Sundance in Minestikwan and Sweet Grass, Saskatchewan. He is a brother in Ceremony to many Mayan who are now family. He offers songs with drum, rattle and flutes to provide peace and wellness when needed.


Jo-Anne Gottfriedson

Jo-Anne Gottfriedson

Resident Elder & Educator - Camp Kerry Society

“Weytk ren skwest es Kiye’y7e Qwisp Nu’xwenxw ell Jo-Anne Gottfriedson Tk’emlu’psemc te Secwepemc. I am extremely proud to be Tk’emlu’psemc. I am a proud mother of two daughters, and a grandmother of five grandsons and a beautiful granddaughter. I also have many adopted children and grandchildren from various nations across the country. I am married to Reverend James Isbister from the Cree Nation, Ahtahakakoop Sandy Lake, Saskatchewan.”

Jo-Anne was educated at Simon Fraser University. She is a Certified Provincial Adult Instructor and a member in good standing with the BC College of Teachers. She instructed the Secwepemc language and culture at the Sk’elep School of Excellence for five years, was a faculty member at the Nicola Valley Technology Institute in Merritt, BC and an Instructor for Aboriginal Tourism BC. Most recently she worked with the First Nations Health Authority as part of a team who developed and taught the Indigenous End-Of-Life Guide Program, offered in partnership with the Continuing Education Department at Douglas College. For the past 11 years she was also the Executive Chair of the Day Scholar Certified Class Action for Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc, Sechelt First Nation and James Cree.

Jo-Anne credits her traditional education to the persistence and commitment of her parents, grandparents and various other Elders and teachers. Her accomplishments are testimony to her belief that formal education compliments traditional education, and that the traditions, beliefs, teaching and language of her ancestors is just as, or more important than any other education she has received. “My commitment and respect for my culture and traditions is of the utmost importance in all aspects of my life … I not only teach it, but live it with my family, community and nation.”


One Journey Ends and Another Begins: How Indigenous Cultural Ways Can Light a Path Towards Healing in Grief

Join Tk’emlu’psemc Elder Jo-Anne Gottfriedson as she shares the various and diverse ways that Indigenous people journey through grief after the loss of a loved one. She will discuss the significant impact that Colonialism has had on Indigenous cultural ways and acknowledge the many benefits that traditional Indigenous beliefs, teachings and rituals can offer to someone who is grieving. In this workshop, participants will gain knowledge of Indigenous practices that are supportive to the grief journey. Jo-Anne’s work is rooted in her belief that all life is precious, and in her conviction that it is possible to find peace as we face death, and as we develop the courage to live in a world without the physical presence of our loved ones.