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Maskwacis father and son team up to facilitate horse therapy programming

By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
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By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News

Patrick Buffalo, CEO of Daywalker Inc, has over 30 years of experience in trauma and emotional stress release using complementary therapies. He is also a certified hypnotherapist and a reiki master.

Patrick and his son Mason Buffalo have organized and facilitated horse therapy sessions across Western Canada for the last eight years. Rather than offering individual sessions, Patrick conducts workshops where he teaches the concepts of hypnotherapy and other emotional techniques.

“So, people heal themselves through the horse spirit,” said Patrick. He offers participants the opportunity to participate in their healing. “All healing comes from the self.”

He sees himself as a facilitator of the healing process, helping participants tap into their healing abilities and untying blockages.

Patrick’s approach emphasizes the importance of self-healing and finding balance in the energy flow.

“The healing process is really about re-establishing the flow … of energy,” explained Patrick. “I don’t call myself a healer, rather a facilitator … I am a facilitator of a healing process.”

“Pimacihiwewin (Cree word for Life), the life force, that’s what healing is about,” added Buffalo. “I use the horse spirit to help people untie that blockage.”

He said everyone who comes to his workshop is coming because they live through trauma and suffering, and the horse’s spirit offers a moment of relief and release, clarity and healing.

“The heaviness comes from everything that happened in their life, everything is imprinted at an unconscious level and creates the weight, being weighed down, and people feeling lost,” explained Patrick.

He said during his workshops, he does “soul retrieval.”

“To give an example of soul retrieval, [when] my brother died, a part of me died with him, and many people can relate to that statement.

“So, in the soul retrieval, I ask the horse spirit to go and find it, and bring you home, to bring you back … it’s a powerful process,” said Patrick.

“I emphasize physical safety, but emotional safety is more important … To achieve that, I don’t ask people to tell stories; there is no disclosure. The horse speaks energy, we speak energy, but we don’t know it; we communicate this way to connect to the horse spirit, and the horse spirit will help us let go of that heaviness in our life.”

Patrick explained that rather than the medicine wheel which teaches balance, he uses the Kiskaw model of healing.

“To me, balance creates struggle,” he said. “Instead, what I do is the Kiskaw model of healing (Kiskaw means Day in Cree), which is raising the vibration; instead of balance, we raise the vibration of the heaviness to the light.”

Mason’s journey is inspiring and shows his commitment to making a positive difference in his community. He co-facilitates horse therapy sessions with his father.

As a former first responder and firefighter, Mason has experienced a lot of trauma and death, which can affect a person’s mental health. However, instead of letting these experiences weigh him down, he has used them to fuel his desire to help others.

“I saw a lot of death, some [people] didn’t make it. Seeing death, so many bodies, and [using] CPR on people; this took a lot out of me,” he explained.

He decided to take action for three years in Toronto. When he returned to the Sovereign Four Nations of Maskwacis, Alta., he started working with Samson Community Initiatives. Mason found his calling in suicide awareness and prevention.

“For eight years, I ran suicide awareness [initiatives], but then I realized we needed more,” he said. His work with horse therapy has been particularly effective, as he and his father have seen first-hand the transformative power of connecting with animals and nature.

“We needed resources in place,” added Mason. “My dad started working the horses, where a horse was just a horse; now he’s got that connection and started seeing miracles happen.”

Mason said men often don’t seek out healing. This needs to change, and Indigenous communities need to allow space for men to heal too.

“If you look at today, you will notice its mainly women here and not a lot of men. I know for a fact that there are a lot of people who want to heal and are scared to reach out and admit that they have a problem,” said Mason.

Patrick and Mason also have a petting zoo on site at their ranch.

“It’s for the kids,” said Mason. “It’s therapeutic.”

Life is always going to adversity and hardships, says Mason.

“My father and I offer tools to the people. My father is not only mentoring me, but I also am a participant and a student, so every day I am learning something new to fill his shoes.”