By Chevi Rabbit
For Ponoka News
Indigenous men have been struggling with lack of social support within communities. Grant Bruno aims to create a conversation on mental wellness for Indigenous men with a monthly virtual meeting.
“There is no shame in healing,” said Bruno.
This is a monthly virtual circle that will be hosted on the first Thursday of the month starting, Sept. 9, 2021 at 7 p.m. over Zoom.
“I have identified there is a lack of support for men locally,” said Bruno.
Bruno has been participating in virtual circles since the pandemic started and he finds them helpful in his own well-being. Burno says he bringing his own healing journey to the table when talking within the virtual circle.
“I also did some circle keeper training a few months ago through the National Compadres Network and now would like to put those skills to use, bring my experiences to the circle, and I can also learn from other men as well,” he said.
“I have had men from all over Turtle Island (Canada) reach out to me since I started to share the circle publicly. Over the years and through informal conversations I have noticed that men want to share and connect, but do not know where or how to start.”
Bruno’s virtual circle is only a start. He says he understands that some men and boys in First Nation communities don’t have access to the Internet.
“I am hoping to host an in-person circle in Maskwacis in the near future because I understand WiFi is a challenge.”
He says there is healing needed for everyone in First Nation communities, but with Bruno’s lived experience his focus will be on the men and boys.
“I would argue there is a lack of mental health support for everyone, not just First Nations people,” said Bruno.
“In our communities there are some people that have taken the burden of mental health support on and I am grateful for them. One of the strengths of Maskwacis is the ceremonial support that can be accessed. Ceremony has become an important part of my healing journey and I am planning on bringing together some of the men to experience ceremonies in Maskwacis.”
Bruno says that he experienced stigma in his own healing journey.
“For example, we are taught that we need to stand alone and do not need to talk about what they are struggling with or about their emotions, and this idea is what leads to mental health challenges. Keeping our emotions bottled up only leads to misery and despair,” said Bruno.
He also understands that when men cry, or show emotions they are not comfortable with, they tend to shut them down because they do not want to be seen as weak and it is that stigma that needs to be broken.
“I understand from my own experience the more I am able to connect with my emotions in a healthy way, the better I feel and more I am able to connect with others,” said Bruno.
“I am a father, a community member, a brother, a son. I understand that through colonialism men have lost their roles and we need to learn and support one another in order to relearn those roles. I have always believed that in order for the community to heal the men need a space to talk about their experiences.”
His says that his role as a father to his sons has shaped the way he sees himself and approaches life.
“There are a lot of great fathers in the community and some who need more guidance. In the virtual circle there will be opportunities to talk about everything from addiction to our roles as men,” said Bruno.
For more information or to register you can email Bruno at firstname.lastname@example.org.