Keep looking for the positive: Westbank First Nation on Mental Health Week

The nation’s in-person mental health supports have been cancelled, but have since been adapted for online

The Westbank First Nation (WFN) council is working hard to let the community know help is available when it comes to their mental well-being.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and with so many gatherings cancelled, WFN councillor Jordan Coble started sharing stories of resilience through traditional Okanagan narratives in English and Syilx via video.

Every week during May, the WFN council will share videos of traditional and personal stories of how they overcame mental health struggles.

“Since the very beginning, we’ve had a plan for initiatives to roll out not just from council but also our community services. Our community services lined up a series of programs that were supposed to take place this month but because of the pandemic, almost everything had to get cancelled,” Coble said.

“Our culture is strongly based on gathering and bringing people together through large feasts and all these types of settings… those, unfortunately, had to get cancelled but we didn’t want May to go by the wayside.”

WFN already publishes a regular series of information videos for the community, which Coble said they decided to use to keep the conversations about mental health continue even when they couldn’t gather physically.

“We wanted to keep leading by example. We wanted to show that no matter who you are, no matter what position you hold or wherever you are in your life or whatever you’re going through, we all go through (mental health) issues. Sometimes they’re diagnosed, sometimes they’re not but we can’t just brush them off as if they’re nothing. It’s important to feel comfortable to talk about that.”

Coble said it’s important to tell stories of resilience using traditional Okanagan legends because it helps people connect to their culture and language, which can help them find healing. It also encourages younger generations that they will get through these difficult times.

“A lot of the things we go through these days, our ancestors have already gone through. Pandemics aren’t new to our nations, unfortunately. Some stories go along with this experience. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, we just need to figure out what our ancestors did, understand it, and adjust accordingly.”

The most important thing to do during the pandemic is to keep looking for the positive things, Coble said.

“It’s about keeping your mind active so you don’t get into that trap where you start to dwell on things and generate that ball of negative energy. I encourage people to encourage the good that’s come from all this: the health of the land is coming back, the health of the water is coming back and the unity between communities,” he said.

“Try to stay focused on those positives. If you continue to look for negative things, that’s what you’ll find. But if you look for the positive, that’s what you’ll uncover.”

READ MORE: Create meaningful connections as pandemic continues: CMHA Kelowna

READ MORE: B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bernard Avenue will be closed to vehicles this summer

Kelowna’s main drag will be a pedestrian-only roadway from June 29 through the Labour Day long weekend

Kelowna’s Homebase Baseball Tournament cancelled

A live auction will still take place to raise funds for Joeanna’s House

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation launches fundraising initiative to support local health care

The initiative also highlights workers at Kelowna General Hospital

Kelowna man charged with animal cruelty

The 20-year-old Kelowna resident remains in custody

Proposed wine centre in historic downtown Kelowna building moved to public hearing

The public will get an opportunity to give input on the proposed 625-person capacity wine centre

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

Enderby’s drive-in not safe from top doc’s 50-car limit

Starlight Drive-In opened with reduced capacity, COVID-19 safety measures in place

Parking lot patios a go in Vernon

Council votes in favour of allowing businesses to expand commercial space into on-street parking spots

Shuswap cabin owner disputes request to stay home in Alberta

Alberta resident redrafts response to CSRD request to stay home

Petition seeks to clean up Okanagan forests ‘carpeted’ with shotgun shells

Penticton man says making shot-gun shells refundable would create cleaner forests

Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announce permanent closure of facility

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Most Read