Ilisaqsivik holds several multi-day land-based healing and cultural retreats throughout the year. The largest retreat is our summer family camp, which is open to any community member who wants to participate, and usually involves hundreds of Clyde River residents. We also organize several smaller camps at different times of the year that may focus on a particular group’s needs, such as a women’s or men’s retreat.
The purpose of these healing retreats is to promote intergenerational healing from past traumas associated with settlement and rapid socio-cultural change. The retreats also offer the chance for families, elders, and children to form strong bonds on the land while sharing skills and knowledge. The retreats incorporate special workshops with trained counsellors and wellness workers on a variety of topics, ranging from community justice, parenting, healthy lifestyle choices, addictions, family violence, anger management, the residential school and hospital experience, sexual abuse, and suicide. Because spending time on the land holds particular cultural significance, holding these workshops in a camp setting helps participants feel safe and supported as they heal from abuse, grief, and loss.
In addition to participating in healing workshops, participants also have the chance to learn new land-based skills and practice old ones. Elders teach classes on a range of topics that include storytelling, traditional tool making, sewing and traditional crafts, and plant use and traditional medicine. In the evening, families share stories and play games together. While the camps offer an important space for healing to take place, they also provide time for relaxation and laughter while enjoying the beautiful land and environment that surrounds Clyde River.