Counsellor's Blog for Students, Families, and Caregivers
niski pîsim ᓂᐢᑭᐲᓯᒼ (March 2023)
Let's talk about sleep...
Does the scene on the left look familiar?
We all felt the time change in March... but for many kids, that's not the only time they struggle to go to bed at night and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.
Sleep challenges in children are common and it is important to address them.
Children and youth who don't get enough sleep have a harder time focusing in school. They are sometimes tired and sometimes hyperactive. Both those things make it hard to take in information.
Not getting enough sleep also makes it harder for us to deal with our feelings and emotions. We have less patience for others and lash out at them more easily. This is true for adults, too, by the way.
How much sleep is enough?
For Elementary School children, an average of 10 hours is recommended. For Junior High and High School youth, an average of 9 hours are healthy.
Of course, each child is different and some children may need a little more or a little less.
If you feel that your child is not getting enough sleep, try to move their bedtime to an earlier time gradually. If they go to bed at 10pm, try putting them to bed at 9:45 on day 1, at 9:30 on day 3, at 9:15 on day 5 and by the end of the week, try 9pm.
Ways to help them sleep better...
There are many things you can do to make it easier for your child to fall asleep and have a good sleep at night.
Take time to wind down before bed with quiet activities like reading, colouring, building a puzzle or having a snuggle.
This is a great time for you to connect with your child, hear about their day and deal with any worries that might be on their mind.
Audiobooks can be a great alterative to watching shows. There are podcasts, apps and YouTube channels where you can find bedtime stories or guided meditations to listen to (don't watch the screen, just listen).Calming sounds like soft music, rain or ocean waves can also help your child drift off to sleep.
Mikisîw pîsim (February 2023)
A Story about Interoception and Feeling Our Feelings.
Listening to My Body by Gabbi Garcia
For connecting with others we find things we have in common, we practice learning from one another and trying out new things that the other person enjoys. We notice their body language and facial expressions and listen to their words. We can practice this by modeling listening skills, and reflecting back what we heard our youth say. Teaching them to reflect back what others say as well. This is called active listening.
Have some fun intentionally connecting this month and the months that follow.
How to Actively Listen
February is a special month. It is the month of connection. Moving towards the end of the Winter season, and looking forward to Spring. Waiting to see what the Groundhog will tell us. Valentines Day, Family Day and PINK shirt day all symbolize LOVE and CONNECTION and KINDNESS.
Connection is very important for humans. All of us want to be seen and cared for. As we grow we learn and have to practice both connecting with others as well as with ourselves. Some ways we help the youth at the school connect with themselves is to help them learn to identify their feelings and how their feelings physically feel within our bodies.
Some ways we do this that can be practiced at home as well are: games about feelings (feelings memory, feelings cards) making feelings faces and guessing what the expression means, talking about how we feel in the moment, reading feelings stories, using a feelings chart. We can expand on this by drawing and coloring and playing games about how our feelings feel within our bodies.
Eg. When I feel angry my body gets hot, and my head feels heavy, and my heart races fast.
When I feel tired my body feels heavy, and my eyes feel droopy and I might yawn.
When I feel excited I have a lot of energy. My heart is fast and my feet and hands are wiggly.
When I am worried I feel fidgety. My stomach hurts and my head feels dizzy
On behalf of the MESC counselling team, we welcome everyone back to a new school year. We will be working to keep this site up-to-date on a monthly basis: hopefully there will be something that you find useful. We are VERY EXCITED to see the awasisak ekwa oskayak in the schools soon. As always, if you would like more information about counselling or mental health, please feel free to contact your school counsellor. If you're not sure how to contact them, there is a form here that will help.
mikiso pisim (February 2022)
Being Kind - to others AND yourself
In February, we often see symbols of love around us because of Valentine’s Day. But since 2007, in Canada we also celebrate pink shirt day! This is a way to show your community your support for bullying to end and kindness towards each other to be bigger than ever before. There are lots of ways to be kind to one another, but in schools some of my favorites are: smiling in the hall, offering to eat lunch beside someone who is alone, asking if someone needs help (even the teacher!) and holding the door open. These are small gestures but sometimes that is all you need to make a difference and start a ripple effect that will impact many. To learn more about Pink Shirt Day, click here!
Being kind to yourself is more than just liking who you are. It is about listening to your feelings, choosing safe & healthy relationships to surround yourself with, and following your dreams and goals to be the best you that you can be. This is all part of practicing self-love. And it starts with the way we speak to and view ourselves. Sometimes this can be an affirmation such as “I am strong, I am brave, I am awesome!” or positive self-talk when something doesn’t go our way such as “that wasn’t the outcome I wanted but I can try again next time!”. When we speak to ourselves with compassion and understanding, we can build a beautiful thing. And after all, our relationships with ourselves are the one that we are guaranteed to have our entire lives so why not put as much effort into that as we do with other people?!
Challenge yourself - practice love and kindness towards yourself and others this February! And don’t forget Pink Shirt Day on February 23.
kisê -pîsim (January 2022)
Press play and listen to Mrs. M read a story. This book reminds us to be aware of our emotions and to be kind to ourselves throughout the tough moments in life.
Tansi kakiyaw Ohpikinahawasowak (Parents/Caregivers)
My name is Paula Mennear and I am thrilled to be working as the school counsellor at Kisipatinahk School. I am honored to support our school families, their awasisak and oskayak!
Working with students fills my bucket. I have been in k-8 schools in some capacity for the past 12 plus years. My last three years were spent promoting positive mental health and wellness in the classrooms. My family and I love to travel (road trips are our favorite). We all enjoy spending time outdoors and connecting with nature. Family time is so precious, so my husband and I try to squeeze in as many adventures with our two sons as humanly possible (even if the 19 and 16 year old are not always game for it;). I am looking forward to a great year of connection with students and families.
Let's take time to reflect on our blessings. When we focus on the positives rather than the negatives, our outlook on life can change dramatically. This past year I began writing in a daily gratitude journal and I won't lie, it has been tough to stick with consistently. However, I've found that when I make the effort it has definitely helped me refocus, reset and turn my mood around. Journaling is a stress relieving activity that can help us form better relationships, lower stress levels and promote positive thinking. Beginning today and to kick off the New Year, I am making the commitment to write daily in my journal. I will take a few moments to reflect on my day and count my blessings. I invite you to join me:)
Take a peek at the printable gratitude journal. Find the pages that will motivate you to put gratitude into practice.
opâskâwehopîsim - ᐅᐹᐢᑳᐁᐧᐦᐅᐲᓯᒼ (June)
Go outside! Unplug the electronics. Discover something new.
Everything is connected, and since you are part of everything, you are connected to everything. In an increasingly diverse world, it is imperative for our kids to be exposed to the enrichment and wholesome experiences that takes place when life is explored around you. Learning about the natural world exposes us to moving and stretching, unique characteristics and wonder filled connections.
Educating a child to embrace the richness and the beauty of the world we live in takes a holistic, 360-degree approach. There are endless opportunities for you and your family to learn and grow together. Here we share simple ideas.
Ms Cary has an Apple tree that she is stretching upwards with in the first picture. In the second picture she is doing a tree pose which is a good stretch and helps with balance. Sometimes it is super cool to go outside and see if you can stand and stretch like the trees around you.
Ms Susan is exploring the spring plantlife and especially the Three flowered Aven that she found close to the ground. She found that the ground was warm and out of the wind and breezes. She imagined a connection to the other plants and insects and the ability to be able to duck out of the way if some large foot was coming by. Ms Susan found even more small plants and insects by being like this flower than when she walked way above them. It was really relaxing and so interesting to learn about the diversity of life next to the ground.
One way to enjoy moving and nature with your family is offered below.
Invite your child(ren) to come outside with you.
Suggest that your children move into a circle, or come together in a space, with you.
Then go around the circle (starting with you) and listen to the children say the name of an animal or plant that they feel close to, or can relate to.
Next you all can play with how the animal or plant moves or is still. You and your child(ren) can take turns to make up a pose that represents the animal or plant chosen.
If you and the children are comfortable you can try this with your eyes closed.
While you and your children hold your poses you can share your imagination and what it feels like to be something different other than a human animal.
If you have time you can try each other’s poses and share what you notice. If you learn something new you can ask the person who started the pose if they would like to hear what you experienced.
After the children try each other’s poses, sit down or go for a walk and talk about what was visualised, sensed and learned.
Lastly Ms Cary and Ms Susan would like to invite you to take a picture or draw a picture of yourself or your family members outside and what you have discovered. Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com We will be making a gallery of photos and will share it with you, on facebook, and the fun stuff section of this MESC counselling page. (if you would like to share with us, but not publicly, please let us know, we would love to see what you do outside with your child(ren) and will keep it private if that is what you are comfortable with). We hope that you will share pictures with us, we really enjoyed our time getting to know a plant we met.
We can’t wait to see what you discover outside and how you choose to pose with nature.
opâskâwehopîsim - ᐅᐹᐢᑳᐁᐧᐦᐅᐲᓯᒼ (June) 11
Hey everyone, it’s Mrs. Fehr from EJSH! Have you ever felt like you wanted to improve yourself in some way? Maybe you would like to be more outgoing or maybe you would like to work through a specific fear or maybe you just want to learn patience. Personal growth happens when you work towards positive personal development. It requires you to be motivated to change in a positive way and it may require you to do things that feel uncomfortable. Positive change requires us to step out of our comfort zone and move forward. Even though it may seem hard in the moment, it’s so worth it! A great way to help remind you of your personal growth goals is to make a vision board. You can then hang it on your wall or add it to your desktop! Check out this link for how to make one!
opâskâwehopîsim - ᐅᐹᐢᑳᐁᐧᐦᐅᐲᓯᒼ (June) 4
Name it to Tame it: Feelings of Anxiety
This week, we're focusing on feelings of anxiety. Most of us know how this can feel, but we don't always know why or what to do about it. Hopefully this week's post helps. Feel free to start with the video to the left for an overview.
In this picture you can see some of the ways feelings of anxiety can affect our bodies, without us even knowing. Sometimes these feelings come with thoughts about a situation we are worried about. But sometimes, they just happen on their own. By noticing our signs, we can get to the root of our feelings and start to take some steps toward managing our feelings.
When we get skilled at recognizing our body signs of anxiety, then there's a few ways to deal with it, starting with calming our bodies. To the left are a few ways to do this. Other ways to do this are: exercise, spending time in nature, asking for help, journaling, doing something that your enjoy before or after a difficult task.
Some good resources for learning about and dealing with anxiety.
It is really important to remember that EVERYONE experiences some level of anxiety--it is normal and helps keep us safe. The goal is not to remove anxiety, but to learn ways to manage it throughout our lives.
Pinawew pisim -ᐱᓇᐁᐧᐤ ᐱᓯᒼ 28
In Honour of Mother’s Day WOMAN’S JOURNEY In Honour of MMIW
It has been shared with us that Natural Law is the ultimate authority upon the lands and water. The earth is our Mother. We treat her with honour and respect. Showing respect is a fundamental law of Nehiyaw Itatisowin. It is important to strive to honour and respect others and all things sacred and ceremonial.
It is with permission and protocol we share this image to represent the sacred and spiritual power of traditional Nehiyaw teachings.
We learn from the teachings and wisdom that guided our ancestors.
We seek guidance from Elders.
We are grateful Daniel Roan granted us permission to include this image of late Emma Roan as a way to honour the Grandmothers.
“Guidance and direction from the Grandmothers and Grandfathers has been given to us. We honour their teachings and carry them into the future” -Daniel Roan
Women are powerful, sacred and spiritual beings.
Tala Tootoosis is a well known Indigenous speaker. Tala encourages women to find strength in our bloodlines.
“Your grandmothers were lodge keepers, camp callers and medicine bundle keepers. They picked medicines and spoke to and sang for the plants to show them what medicines they offer. In turn, you pass it off to your grandchild.”
There is a strength that runs deep inside women.
Young girls and Women are worthy of dignity, respect and honour.
WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER
Women have the ability to give life and nurture life. Women are blessed with these abilities. Our blessings are powerful. Women should be treated with love and respect. Lucy Kammer
Cree Women, Nehiyaw Iskwewak, are sacred in our Cree Culture. We give birth to our children to give us a long life, therefore, we as Cree women, are to be respected, protected and cherished.
Ms. E. Saulteaux
I am proud to be a Neyhiaw Iskwew because a strong Mother raised me. She taught me that women are sacred because they are givers of life.
Long ago women were held in high regard as we are spiritually powerful.
Iskwew awa e-mahtawisit -A woman is sacred
The Creator gave women ceremonies because women are life givers.
Manachitak Pimatisiwin-Respect Life
Men must remember to honour and protect women as spiritual beings.
Manacihihkok Iswewak- Respect Women
Our Nohkom holds the family's greatest treasures, the founder of a loving legacy, the keeper of traditional values and knowledge, the greatest storyteller.
I am grateful for having a Nohkom that has a heart of gold that is compassionate and gives unselfishly. Our Nohkom is the family's strongest foundation, the pillar of strength. I am truly grateful and blessed to have a Nohkom that keeps the family close at heart.
I think it is important to understand relationships and how to honor the women in our lives. I honor the women in my life by understanding my role within the family structure. I never address older females in my family by their names. I also expect this from the younger people in my life. I correct them when they do not address me properly, respect is earned, but also taught.
- Bobbi Houle
Life is not always easy for women but we are strong. There is no easy road.
We must continue to learn throughout our lives. I am still learning. As we learn we must be there for and guide those who are younger than us. Women give life. We raise children. We learn the traditional ways so we can teach the young women our ways. The ceremonies and teachings are there to guide us in life. Women are powerful. We are to be respected and loved.
As women we have a gift from the creator, we have the ability to give life, spiritually having that connection to the life of children, who are pure. Children have that pure spiritual entity to the creator.
Life is sacred.
Women who don't have the ability to create life are women, who I believe, still have that connection to our creator. Spiritually all women are given that mother's love and can nurture life.
When it comes to women, we must always remember to respect and honour them. For it is them who made us who we are. Without them we would not exist, our mothers gave us life and mother earth gives us all that we need in order to survive.
- Stephen Wolfe
Women and girls are not always honoured and protected as they should be.
If you are experiencing harm or have been harmed there is help available.
Many women and girls suffer in silence.
Connect with someone you trust to help. (Elders, Family, Friends and/or Professional)
Our experiences, stories and voices matter.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911
MASKWACIS MOBILE MENTAL HEALTH 780-362-2150 (24Hour)
ERMINESKIN WOMENS’ SHELTER 780-585-4444 (24Hour)
Call the Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818 to get help anonymously.
Women and Girls are worthy of SAFETY, DIGNITY, RESPECT and HONOUR
We honour the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, their families and communities.
There is a need for awareness and actions that address missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, including preventative measures and healing for affected people.
As women we acknowledge the men who have grown into the role of protector.
We pray for the men who are just beginning their journey in understanding the sacredness of women.
May the Creator and teachings guide your understanding and actions.
Pinawew pisim -ᐱᓇᐁᐧᐤ ᐱᓯᒼ 14
This week we are going to highlight strategies that support holistic wellness! below you will find strategies to support your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well being!
Use your finger to complete the mazes!
Try some different yoga exercises! there are lots for all ages on Youtube!
Move your body and use your brain with a nature scavenger hunt!
Emotional Wellness Jar Activity
Find a jar/ box/ container and decorate it with whatever you have around the house
Find some scrap paper and cut it into squares large enough to write a sentence or two on
Write down happy memories, happy thoughts, or anything that makes you smile on the papers and keep them in the jar
Keep adding to the jar whenever something makes you smile
Whenever you need a pick me up pull a paper out of the jar and you will be reminded of a time you felt a lot of joy!
Younger kiddos may need some help with this activity but they can use pictures and smaller words to express themselves as well!
Pinawew pisim- ᐱᓇᐁᐧᐤ ᐱᓯᒼ 7
Tansi! The counsellors at NSS have been happy to see all of our cohort 2 students this week. Though we move to 2 weeks of school closures next week, we want our students to know that we are still here for them and keep them in our hearts even when we are not together.
Today, we wanted to talk about stress. Have you ever heard someone say one of these things before?
“I’m so stressed”
”You’re stressing me out”
“Ugh this is too stressful!!”
Maybe you have even said something like this (I know I have!). Well that's because we all experience stress EVERY DAY in our lives - from trying to keep up with schoolwork and being part of a family, changing of routines, to living through this pandemic. Stress is normal and happens to everyone! Sometimes we even need stress to get things done. For example, being stressed when we wake up in the morning to get to school may help us to find the energy we need to arrive at the bus stop on time, eat our breakfast or take a quick shower to start the day. This would usually be considered a positive stress.
We also have negative stressors in our lives that can cause our health to be harmed. Mrs Fehr talks about this “mind-body connection” in the blog post on ayiki pisim 23. Being too worried, nervous, anxious, STRESSED about things isn’t good for us. But, when we are brave and able to face our worries, it helps our brains and bodies and makes us less stressed over time.
As we continue to go back and forth with our school routine, make sure to take time to check in with yourself. Think about what is a positive stress in your life and what is a negative one. Then, feel free to check out our website to see different resources that you can use to help to make that stress a little smaller. Want to learn more about how stress works? Check out this video for an introduction. Remember, if you need help you can always talk a trusted adult who cares - like your school counsellor - to find out where your stress is coming from and what to do with it.
AYÎKI PÎSIM 30: You are doing great, we have got this.
Bev from Maskwacis Outreach and Teri from Ehepawahk Alternate School would like to send out our appreciation to students for their ability to stay safe and connected during the pandemic. We know that sometimes it can be hard to be disconnected from friends and the routine of school. Part of keeping ourselves healthy, is ensuring that we have a good frame of mind. Here are a few tools to help with positive self talk and some phrases that can remind you of just how amazing you are. Know that a positive outlook also helps to see the world in a little better light. Click on the link below for more information.
The Brain is one of the coolest organs in our body. It is also important to understand just a little about how the brain works. Here are a few resources to help understand your brain and what it needs to work in the best shape possible. Our brains are like elastic bands and by learning and making mistakes, our brain continues to grow and get stronger. Click on the link below to learn a little bit about how your brain works.
AYÎKI PÎSIM 23: Mind-Body Connection - What it means and what we can do to help ourselves
Hi Everyone, Mrs. Fehr here to share some info on the Mind-body connection.
Have you ever…
· felt so worried or stressed your stomach begins to hurt or you get a headache?
· felt so happy or excited your body feels energetic?
· felt so sad your body feels heavy and exhausted?
These are some examples of the mind-body connection. It means our emotions and the way we think are connected to how our body reacts and vice versa. Sometimes this is helpful as your gut tells you to run when you are in danger. Other times it is not helpful if you are worried and your stomach becomes upset so you don’t eat and this becomes an ongoing pattern.
When we experience a negative emotion such as stress, anger or fear, our bodies produce hormones that continue the stress cycle. In other words, our bodies creates stress hormones that can keep us stressed! Don’t get me wrong! We need stress hormones in our body, but having too much can create physical symptoms, even illnesses, such as ulcers or heart attacks! One way to “burn off” the excess stress hormones is to do some type of body movement. Have you ever noticed that when you go for a walk you often feel better?
One of my favourite ways to combat the stress in my body is to calm myself by mindful breathing. I encourage you to watch and participate in the videos below. What do you notice in your body that is different now than before you participated?
AYÎKI PÎSIM 16: Emotional Regulation: What is it and how do we do it?
Emotional-regulation is how your brain helps you control what you’re doing and what you’re feeling. It happens all the time, often without us even knowing. It is one of the most important things that humans learn to do.
It is how we learn to make ourselves feel good again after our brain thinks we're in danger (when we FLIP OUR LIDS: see video).
No one is born knowing how to do Emotional Regulation. Someone has to teach us how to do by doing it with us. This is called co-regulation.
A key part of understanding our own regulation is knowing how it feels to be ready and what it feels like to flip our lid. The WINDOW of TOLERANCE (left) is one way to understand this.
Everyone's window is different and can change from moment to moment, depending on stress and support.
Staying within the sweet spot of our window of tolerance takes practice and sometimes help for others, especially in children.
Some ways of getting and staying in our window of tolerance can include doing things like deep breathing, walking away, having a safe place to go, visualization, positive self-talk, drawing or writing, having a drink of water and having a plan with someone you trust.
When children are learning how to regulate their emotions, they will need our help. This is best done through a process called co-regulation.
Co-regulation is modelling calmness for someone who has flipped their lid, not joining in their chaos.
To the left are ways to model and teach co-regulation.
It's not always easy to stay regulated when some one has flipped their lid, this is normal, take a break if you need to or tag out with someone who can take your place. We need to make sure we are regulated to help regulate another.
We can expect lid flips to happen. Making a plan with a person when they are feeling calm and ready can be helpful.
Here is an example of a plan when someone has flipped their lid to help get their thinking brain back online. Even though we have a plan doesn't mean it will work the first time, it will take practice and may need to be tweaked here and there, try different things and see what works for you.
It is important to remember that there are many things that effect a person's ability to regulate emotions. Previous trauma, anxiety, hunger, being tired, bored, doing something we don't like, and lots of other things can get in the way. The best way for us to help a person is to co-regulate.
If you would like more information or help with making a plan, please contact the counsellor at your school.
AYÎKI PÎSIM 9th: Let's explore... CREATIVITY
WHEN SOMETHING IS GIVEN A VOICE
We are spiritual beings.
We are taught to begin with prayer.
Meskanahk Ka Nipa Wit Cree teacher and Elder, Lucy Kammer, shared what she has been taught from the Elders before her; the knowledge and understanding of prayer.
We pray for guidance from the Creator. We pray to walk the right path on earth. We pray for the wisdom to understand our life has purpose and meaning. We pray for the spiritual understanding to know and feel we are never alone. The Creator and our ancestors are with us while we strive to create a good life on earth. Knowing this, we will have the courage to live life to the fullest.
Creativity and art in any form help us to express ourselves. Art helps us to better understand ourselves and others.
In addition,creative activities are a great way to deal with stress and cope with our feelings. This is important anytime, but has become especially important during this pandemic.
Maybe you are already an artist. Maybe you already create...
If not, maybe you just haven’t found your favourite form of creativity yet. Keep trying different things until you have found one that feels right for you.
MUSIC & DANCE
I was taught within our traditional singing, that it is sacred. That not only do the songs come from the song makers themselves, but from a higher power and that when we do sing that we are also praying. And that the drum represents the heart beat of our mother, as it resembles the same sounds of a heart beat that we heard while our mothers had carried us during pregnancy. To me, to sing is to heal. Not only do you heal yourself but others, including your ancestors.
Grade 9 Teacher, Meskanahk Ka Nipa Wit school
Music and Dance are powerful expressions of who we are as individuals and as a society.
Our mind, body and spirit go into a feeling of “flow” – many feel a connection to our ancestors when immersed in doing something that taps into that inner creative spirit. Time stands still and our mind is allowed to just be in the present moment.
Art is beautiful meditation. You lose yourself in focusing on something creative and your troubles fall away.
Grade 5 Teacher, Meskanahk Ka Nipa Wit School
Sometimes ideas just come. But there's one fail-proof way of helping them along: make a collage.
JOURNALLING / WRITING
When you are journaling you are giving yourself a voice. You allow yourself to be heard.
Make a mark...DOODLE it!
Doodling improves creativity and problem solving because it gives the individual an opportunity to think differently through visual language.
Photographs stop time, giving us a moment to think, to react, to feel, to soak in the details of complicated situations.
Beading connects us to our history and Cree Values. It helps us to relax and feel calm. We begin with a design in our mind and then turn that into a visual creation. When I finish a project, I feel accomplished. I know how much work it takes to complete a project and feel proud of finishing what I started.
-Amberly Rain- Grade 6 Teacher, Meskanahk Ka Nipa Wit School
COOKING / BAKING
Cooking is about family, friends, community and culture.
Food is a universal language. Food is meant to be shared and it brings people together.
You can add to recipes to make them your own. Start with simple recipes like soup or pancakes and dare to be creative!
Kids are naturally experts at expressing their creativity through play. When you play by yourself, with your toys or in nature, you are being creative. When you play with friends or siblings, you are being creative!
Having fun lifts the spirit and brings joy to life.
LAUGHTER IS HEALING. LAUGHTER IS MEDICINE.
Mâcisekwan - have you heard the chickadees with their superpower bird song?
You can be a superhero too! Being your own superhero takes imagination and commitment just like it did for the creators of those you can find in gaming and comic books. We, Mrs Cary and Ms Susan, think that everyone is a superhero and has amazing gifts and talents that they can be proud of.
Lately we have noticed students drawing and talking about Superman, minecraft characters and other gaming sensations such as Cartoon Cat. Jumping off from this phenomenon we were inspired to remind you that you can tap into your superpowers and be your own superhero. Everyone has powers that are unique to themselves. Some skills and talents include skateboarding, drumming, beading, climbing trees, drawing, and/or creating a story. Your “powers” can be used to ward off a villain including anxiety, fear or sadness. Perhaps when you are outdoors you can recognize the sounds around you first. Perhaps you can create a great story that others want to play with you. Perhaps …. It is your turn to fill in the words. Check out the video Mrs Cary did to see what hers is, it is posted under Fun Stuff (see the bottom of the right hand side bar to find it).
Our challenge for you students (and families) is to come up with a superhero designed by you that you can call your own. We hope that you will see yourself in your superhero and discover how you make a difference in your life, family and community. We hope that you will be inspired to write or tell a story and then to make your very own superhero storybook - Mrs Cary shows you how to make a super fun book with paper bags, see the Fun Stuff section.
At the very least every student can find a superhero to admire and learn from. The Marvel characters below have super interesting stories and a common goal of peacekeeping. Interesting websites to explore for ideas are: :popular-marvel-characters (this site offers a quick guide to the variety of superpowers there are as well as both female and male superheros).
superhero and villain guide (this site offers fewer but an interesting overview of those they highlight including Superman, Batman and Captain America).
Superheroes can be used to inspire and empower you, students, to be brave enough to stand up for what you believe is the right thing to do and to imagine new skills and talents. This is especially important now, because of our ability to connect with a large audience on the Internet where we need to be able to make safe and secure choices.
Families, let’s talk about helping our students develop characters in their own comic book story. The two creative exercises suggested are meant to jumpstart the imagination so that you can find your own superhero and story. The suggestions below will be fun to do as a family or with an older person who would like to support and engage in the process.
As you work on creating superheros with your child/student remember to ask questions. After each creative exercise, take a moment to talk about what was done and how the child feels about creating it or about the story events. When the superhero meets a problem or solves a problem you can look for words like mad, sad or glad. These three words are all that is needed for children under 9. As they get older help expand their vocabulary into disappointed, challenged, delighted for example. Asking questions shows the child you respect them and what they think and do matters. You might choose to write down the answers together so that you have them as reference for building your superhero stories and storybook.
HAVE FUN WITH "STRING-A-LONG" SUPERHERO STORIES
One fun activity is telling a string-a-long story, which can be done with any number of people. Parents and children are encouraged to take turns building the story together.
The story starter can be, ‘Once upon a time…,’ and then the person whose turn it is to tell the next part of the story says something that connects to the line before. Telling string-a-long stories, like improvisation, uses your imagination to think about what comes next in your superhero story. Here is an example to get you started:
Person #1 - once upon a time there was a land full of puddles
Person #2 - It was so hard to walk anywhere without getting your feet wet and the people were sad or mad much of the time
Person #3 - children were even frustrated and wished something could help them
Person #1 - one young student decided to do something to help bring glad feelings back to the people
Person #2 - they found some waterproof material and designed boots that could appear and disappear with a snap of the fingers
Person #3 - and everyone could easily walk through puddles without getting their feet wet Person # 1 - this student found a superpower of invention and they were no longer sad about the puddles
Person #2 - The people of puddle land were delighted with their new magical boots.
Person #3 - The people were glad and this student was their superhero!
MAKE A STORYBOOK
You can make a storyboard by having a child draw their characters and then a series of pictures of the main events in the story on pieces of paper (perhaps create 8 pieces from one regular size). After the pictures are finished they can decide on the order (they might choose to rearrange them from the order they drew them in). Talk about the order and whether it makes sense – since you are using small pieces of paper, the child can move them around. Once they have the story in order they can put the pictures in a handmade book like the one Ms Cary is showing us in a video you can find a link to here Paper Bag Books.MOV
Or see the section titled Fun Stuff. Mrs Cary’s book is made from materials you can find around your home such as a paper bag (or save them from your school meals and bring them home).
from Mrs Cary and Ms Susan
Niski Pisim - 24th
Spring Break is just around the corner! Things are a bit different this year with the cohort system but remember it is still important to take a break! It's okay to work on school a little bit next week but it is still your spring break! A great time to get outside and do some activities as a family! We have added some activities below you can do safely within your family groups. Get outside and stay safe :)
Niski Pisim - 12th
Tansi everyone! We are so happy to have students in our schools and are enjoying getting to know everyone a bit better once again. Us counsellors at Nipisihkopahk Secondary School wanted to talk about self esteem this week. What is self-esteem? To put it simply, self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. Your self-esteem is changing all the time. Sometimes you can wake up in the morning, feeling confident and happy to be yourself. Other days it is not so easy, especially when hard things come in your way, like not doing well on a school assignment or getting in an argument with your friend. Sometimes you might feel bad about yourself for a little while -that's okay sometimes, and normal to not always feel our best. The good news is that you can always do things to improve your self-esteem and build your confidence. Here is a list of some things to try when you want to feel better about yourself:
Start each day saying something positive to yourself in the mirror - use affirmations to start your day on the right foot.
Practice or participate in your talents and interests - when we feel good about we do, we feel good about ourselves.
Spend quality time with the people you love and who love you, too.
Turn “I can’t” into “I can” - challenge yourself by deciding to change your mind. Once you start saying “I can” you may be surprised what you can accomplish.
Go to “Fun Stuff” and try Ms. Cassandra’s self-esteem jar!!
We hope these tips can help you to grow your self-esteem. If you are interested in learning more, check out these youtube video links for more on confidence and self-esteem for both teenagers and younger kids. Take care!!
Inspiration for blog taken from https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/self-esteem.html
Niski Pisim - 8th
Building Positive Relationships
One of the most profound experiences we can have in our lives is the connection we have with other human beings. Positive and supportive relationships will help us to feel healthier, happier, and more satisfied with our lives. So here are a few tips to help you to develop more positive and healthy relationships in all areas of your life:
Ensure that the relationship you have with yourself is a positive one.
Accept and celebrate the fact that we are all different.
Actively listen to hear what other people have to say.
Give people time and “be present” when you are with them.
Develop and work on your communication skills.
Manage mobile technology and be aware of its pitfalls.
Learn to give and take constructive feedback.
Open your heart and find the courage to trust.
Learn to be more understanding and empathetic.
Treat people as you would like to be treated yourself.
Every relationship we have can teach us something, and by building positive relationships with others, we will be happier and more fulfilled and feel more supported, supportive, and connected.
Life's Building Blocks
We hope you have fun working by yourself or with others when you play the LEGO block games that we have included here. There are similarities between building with blocks and building self and relationships.
Problem solving skills - Problem solving skills are needed in order to build these patterned block puzzles. The first steps are to figure out, how do I do that, what colour do I use, how many blocks do I need to build this formation? Problem solving skills in life are important because this is when we are making choices. Effective problem-solving skills can result in confident, and more independent individuals. When children tackle problems on their own, or in a group they learn to look at challenges differently/positively.
Imagination/Creativity - Once a child has mastered the Lego examples, they can now use their imagination to make their own plan or if they're playing with friends, they can work together to create the Lego pattern. Blocks can be moved , combined and recombined in countless ways. No end to the possibilities. Imagination and creativity foster's cognitive and social development, along with developing creative problem solving abilities. Albert Einstein said, creativity is intelligence having fun.
Self-expression - Blocks offer many ways for learner's to explore, create and express themselves. Self-expression in one's life gives us enjoyment and an opportunity to share our feelings, thoughts or ideas in writing art, music, dance.
Social and emotional growth - Playing with blocks can help children learn to take turns and share materials, develop new friendships, become self-reliant, increase attention span, cooperate with others, and develop self-esteem. Builds self-esteem and feelings of success.
Building LEGO is fun! Who knew we are also building character traits that will benefit us in the future?
LEGO Block Patterns - using the patterns below, construct the figures. Once you have done it once, then time yourself constructing the second time. The third time you can challenge a family member to construct one of the patters. Have fun and remember the skills that you are developing by simply building LEGO patterns.
Mikisiw Pisim - 26th
We ALL have GIFTS, We just need to open them!
EJSH School Counsellor
It is so good to be back in school. It has been such a long time and the school has felt like just a building until you arrived. The lockdown has been very difficult for many of us. It has presented us with challenges while at the same time allowing us to look at ourselves, spend more time with family, and realize what is important to us. It has felt so good to connect and support you as you get back into the thick of school.
We ALL have gifts, we just need to open them! What does this mean? There is nothing more important than knowing who we are and what we have to give to others. The world needs us and is much better off with us in the world doing what we do best, whatever it is. All types of people are needed in this world. A quote I like goes, “The sky is full of stars and there’s room for them ALL to shine.”
We need to take the time to notice gifts in each and every one of us as we all have them. We only need to open ourselves to discover what they are and how they can help us to help others. Gifts are not meant to stand alone but to give to others. So, how can we discover our gifts? Here are some practical ways to get started. Think about these questions and write down your responses:
1. What do you like to do? What do you spend most of your time doing?
2. What is important to you in general? In your family, school, friendships,
etc.? Make a list in each area of your life as these will define what you value in life. Using these will help you find purpose and direction.
3. Take an online strengths assessment such as the Clifton Strengths
Assessment. It is important to know where your strengths lie so you can
do the things that will move you closer to the place where you belong. Use these strengths to help you with your own development and growth.
4. Ask those around you that you trust and love like family and friends what
they believe your greatest strength. Hopefully this will confirm what you already know about yourself and give you something to think about.
After identifying what your strengths, passions, and purpose in life seems to be, find as many ways as you can to use your gifts. Be creative and reflect on all you have to offer. Put it out into the world and see what comes back.
We are all who we are and we have the gifts we have for a reason. We are uniquely unique and our gifts are sacred to us and to those around us. Whether we were meant to lead (or follow), or work with animals (or people), or draw or create (or sell those drawings and creations) or be amazing storytellers in books (or in person around the campfire) or any number of gifts and abilities that can be named. We are all given gifts that make us who we are and allow us to change the world, even if it is just in our corner of the world. We can all make a difference with our gifts. We just have to open them to see what they are. So, start opening! What are you waiting for?
Mikisiw Pisim ᒥᑭᓯᐤ ᐱᓯᒼ 19th
Name it to Tame It: Grief
In December we posted a video from our Name it to Tame It series that focused on emotions in general. This week we’re focusing on one particular set of feelings: grief in children. It can be helpful for children (and adults) to know what might be expected and some healthy ways to cope. Below, we’ve broken the info into sections so you can take from it what you need. Hopefully it’s of some help in supporting the children in your life. It has been shown by research that children who know more about grief often have an easier time coping, please feel free to share the information with your child as you see fit. Below you will find info for adults and children about grief. Feel free to use or not as you see fit.
What is Grief
Grief is what we feel when we lose a connection to something important to us.
Grief and mourning are not necessarily the same. Grief is often described as the immediate feelings from a loss. This differs from mourning as it is related more to reflection, memories, and ritual surrounding a loss.
There are no rules about what we grieve or how.
How to Talk to Younger Children About Grief
from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/death.html for more details and examples, please click on the link.
When talking about death, use simple, clear words.
Listen and comfort.
Every child reacts differently to learning that a loved one has died. Some kids cry. Some ask questions. Others seem not to react at all. That's OK.
Stay with your child to offer hugs or reassurance.
Answer your child's questions or just be together for a few minutes.
Put emotions into words.
Talk about your own feelings
Tell your child what to expect.
Talk about funerals, wakes, and rituals.
Share your family's beliefs about what happens to a person's soul or spirit after death.
Explain what happens after the service
Give your child a role (if they want).
Help your child remember the person.
Don't avoid mentioning the person who died. Recalling and sharing happy memories helps heal grief and activate positive feelings.
Respond to emotions with comfort and reassurance.
Ask about feelings and listen.
Let your child know that it takes time to feel better after a loved one dies.
Support groups and counselling can help kids who need more support.
Help your child feel better. Provide the comfort your child needs, but don't dwell on sad feelings.
Give your child time to heal from the loss. Grief is a process that happens over time.
Children's Book: The Invisible String written and read by Patricia Karst
We like to think of grief by thinking of our connections to things and people as invisible strings that get changed in some way. The following video is one we like to help explain grief to children and personal connection.
After listening to the book, it might be useful to talk to your child about the people they hold invisible strings with as a way to know they are not alone and that their connections continue, even after loss.
Some Things People Grieve
Grief is often associated with death, but there are many other things we can grieve:
Death of a person
Death of a pet
Not getting to see someone important to us
Losing a thing that is important (an item, a job, etc.)
Losing trust in someone close to us
Changes in our lives (like COVID-19’s changes)
Being let down
Grief Brings up lots of feelings
As you can see in the picture, the feelings grief comes with can be complicated and confusing. Sometimes we can even feel nothing at all. We won’t always understand what we’re feeling or why. Sometimes, there can even be lighter and even joyful feelings. This is also a normal reaction to grief and not something a person needs to feel concerned or guilty about. Although these feelings can be difficult, recognizing them and naming them can often help tame them.
Some Ways to Cope With Grief
There are times when the feelings of grief can be too confusing and difficult to deal with on our own. During these times we may need extra help. Each person deals with grief differently. Below are some different, healthy coping ideas that might be useful to some people.
Talking to someone you trust
Ceremony and ritual
Prayer and reflection
Being with good friends and family (this can even include pets)
Connect with nature
Being patient and forgiving with ourselves
Cry when you need, laugh when you can
Trust your instincts
A message of encouragement in challenging times
Life is full of ups and downs. The Elders have experienced many things in their lifetime, this is why we seek their guidance.
We are so grateful the Elders of Maskwacîs are willing to share their knowledge with us.
We listen to the Elders so we can learn and grow.
We remember a time when Meskanahk Ka Nipa Wit School Elder and Cree Teacher, Lucy Kammer, shared with us what it means to listen and understand.
Mrs. Kammer shared that to learn and grow, we need to hear what is being said, we need to think about what is being said, we need to feel what is being said and we need to understand what is being said. This is how we can learn and grow in life.
We learn from each other.
In the video, Mrs. Kammer shares a message of encouragement, love, kindness and compassion. Mrs. Kammer helps us understand that when we help each other, we become stronger.
We want to thank Lucy Kammer for taking the time to make this video. We have so much to learn from the Elders.
With deep appreciation, Sandi & Julia from Meskanahk Ka Nipa Wit School and Ms Leann from Kisipatnahk School.
Tansi --Mikisowipisim 05
Tansi Kiyawaw! This is Ms. Cary Northwest, along with Ms. Susan Spyker popping in to see how everyone has been during this period of not being in school. We’ve been spending some time going through the counsellor page on the MESC site and are amazed at how many things there are to do for all awâsisak/oskâyak (children/youth) students. There is a lot for ohpikinahawasiwin (parents/guardians) to do and read as well.
We especially want to thank Miss Mariah for making up the page of counsellor pictures -- we know we speak for all of the counsellors when we say that we are really missing you, Kiyawaw!
In December we talked about big feelings including being angry or mad . We can all agree that feeling mad does not feel good in our bodies. Did you know that often anger comes with another emotion? Our feelings might get hurt and we feel angry towards the person who hurt us. We might have lost someone or something important to us and along with grief, we might feel angry that we don’t have them any longer. Listen to the audio below where a traditional Cree story is told. It is a story gathered by Harvey McCue called, The Granddaughter who was eaten by a Big Fish. In this story, Beulah has disobeyed her Kohkom. How do you think she is feeling? Sad that she misbehaved? Guilty that she should have listened? Mad that the fish ate her? Maybe relieved that her Kohkom caught the fish and rescued her? Could be any of them, or perhaps a combination of two or more feelings.
The words to this story are included so that you, parents/guardians, may learn the story and adjust it to meet your storytelling needs. Perhaps it would make more sense to have a grandfather as the other main character. Or that it is a story about a grandson. Oral storytelling traditions allow the teller to tweak the story. Mainly the storyteller would want to remember the plot and the main characters. .
And, as always, if you are having feelings that are too big to handle on your own reach out to family, friends, school teachers, counsellors or someone else close to you.
Cary Northwest, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 780-585-2075 Text only: 780-312-3273
Susan Spyker, email@example.com Phone: Ermineskin Kindergarten 780-585-3788
or Mimiw Sakahikan School 780-586-3808 Text only: 780-312-8858
Audio (above) is the telling of a traditional Cree story - The Granddaughter who was eaten by a Big Fish
The Granddaughter who was eaten by a Big Fish
(words to the story open with tiny arrow right of these words)
Children, I have a story to tell. This is a story about Kohkum and her mischievous granddaughter, Beulah. Beulah was a very curious little girl. She was always wandering off from the camp, looking for adventures. Kohkum was always telling her to listen. One day, Gookum asked Beulah to get some water from the lake so she could make soup.
“Whatever you do, don’t go swimming in the lake alone,: said Kohkum.
“Why not?” asked Beulah.
“Because there is a giant fish in that lake, and he will catch you and swallow you up if you swim too far.”
“Eeeeeeeya, Kohkum. I’m not afraid of a big fish.”
So, Beulah went off to collect the water. Oh, it was a nice warm day. The sun shone brightly.
Squirrel chattered with much to say as she walked along the path.
“Go away, silly Squirrel. I am busy.”
Butterfly flew playfully around the girl. She ran around in circles trying to catch Butterfly until it flew away. “I am really hot now,” Beulah said to herself.
Finally Beulah came to the lake. She went to the big rock where Kohkum had shown her to stand to get water. She dipped her buckets in the lake. They filled up quickly. Those buckets were heavy now. She had to be very careful when she carried them to the shore. They were soooo heavy. With a cup, she scooped out the little sticks and leaves that floated on the top. She was ready to carry them back now. Carrying the buckets to the shore had made Beulah so tired. She lay down next to the water, in a nice spot on a large flat rock. The sun shone on her. She was very hot, so she took off her shirt.
Blue Jay landed in a tree next to the path. Blue Jay called noisily to her.
“You noisy old bird. Stop disturbing me.” Blue Jay flew away.
Beulah decided to have a quick swim, just to cool off before she took the buckets of water back for Kohkum. She removed all of her clothes and dived in.
The water was nice and cool. Beulah was a good swimmer. She decided she would swim out as far as she could. As she swam out, Beulah saw a huge silver flash in the water. It was a great big fish. With one gulp Fish swallowed her whole! Beulah found she was trapped in the stomach of the huge fish Kohkum had warned her about.
“Oh no,” she cried. “I should have listened to Kohkum!”
Beulah had been gone a long time. Kohkum thought that she had found an adventure and forgotten to get water. There was no point in worrying about her -- there were chores to be done around camp. Kohkum cut wood and made dinner. When Beulah wasn’t home by night, Kohkum was worried. She knew the little girl was able to take care of herself in the woods though and went to sleep.
The next day, Beulah still was not back. Kohkum needed food, so she gathered the fishing net and went down to the lake. She caught six fish. One was a huge creature that stretched as long as her arms and more. That big fish would feed the whole family for a week.
She started cutting up all the fish. When she finally got to the big fish, she slid the knife into the belly. Beulah jumped out, very much alive.
At first, Kohkum was startled, but she quickly realized it was Beulah. Beulah was covered from head to toe in slimy, sticky fish innards.
She shook her head at Beulah and began to laugh at her. “I told you, I told you not to swim in the lake by yourself..” Beulah bowed her head and said nothing. She just went to the lake to clean off all the smelly fish slime and went back home when clean.
It's Erika, from NES here! I want to say just how excited I am that we get to have some of you BACK IN THE BUILDING this week! The last couple of weeks may have been hard learning from home, but we want to remind you that you are doing your best and that is good enough! It's easy to be hard on yourself when we are doing hard things! Learning from home is hard, not seeing our friends and family is hard, keeping routine while you are at home is hard! But remember what Dr. Jody Carrington says! "we are wired to do hard things!" Remind yourself you are doing your best, and watch any negative self-talk, try replacing negative things with some positive affirmations!
Ms. Jordee here, I would like to welcome you all back to this New week, New month and New year of 2021! All of us here at NES are so very excited and happy to be seeing your lovely faces (with masks on!) Wapahki! Just a reminder that the Counsellors are available and I can’t wait to see you all. Get some rest, drink some water and get a good night’s rest for tomorrow we are all back in the school.
kisêpîsim 22/Jan. 22
Tansi everyone! Miss Mariah from NSS here. The start of a new year can be an exciting time... ESPECIALLY the start of this year! There are many ways to honor and celebrate the new year. From fireworks, countdowns, and even housecleaning, a New Year can bring a fresh feeling of new opportunities. Some people even mark the start of a New Year by making a New Years resolution. What is a resolution? I read in this article from the History channel that resolutions started as a way to make promises to the Kings of old way, way back about 4000 years ago. Usually they began after big festivals in January or February and people promised to return things they had borrowed.
Nowadays, it is like a promise to yourself to do or not do something. Usually it is to help you make a positive change in your life. To put it simply, a resolution can be a way to reach a goal. For example, I could want to be a better reader. My resolution would be to read 20 minutes a day. That would be really hard for me as I don’t like to read when I am not working. I might have to make a schedule, set aside a certain time, or tell the people I live with about my resolution to help keep me accountable.
Sometimes our goals in life are really big and important, like choosing a career or learning a new skill. Other times, they could be simple small things that eventually turn into changes in our everyday routines. A great tip on making sure we reach our goals is to use the SMART goal system. Using these 5 steps can help us to make sure we reach our goals, but also that our goals are broken down into steps that help us get there.
So what are you waiting for?!?! I can’t wait to see what goals we can all achieve in 2021! From all of the counselling team at MESC, we wish you a safe, healthy and happy new year - Kamîyo Ocehto Kîsikanisinâwaw!
Trying something new for 30 days!
Sometimes when life starts to feel heavy, we need a small reminder to just breathe. Here is a quick tiktok video to help walk you through a relaxation activity to help. Click on the "Drop your Shoulders" words and the link will come up for you.
Bev found an amazing song to help remind us the importance of gratitude and finding people in our lives that we are thankful for. Click on the word "Gratitude" to see the youtube link. Often when we are struggling to manage our emotions, we see the world in a dark way. Listen to the song and then do the activity below to help refocus your ability to see the world in a positive way.
Activity - Write a few sentences with one or two of the following ideas.
-What was the best thing that happened today?
-Name something that makes you happy.
-Where is your favorite place to go real or imagined?
-What is the best gift that you have ever received?
-Name a person that you love and why.
-Who do you like to spend time with and why?
It’s Mrs. Fehr from Ermineskin Junior Senior High School. Wow, time has gone very quickly for me this fall! Now that the snow has come, my mind has drifted to Christmas! I was thinking about how Christmas is sometimes a challenging time for some people who are anxious. It makes me wonder how people will cope with anxiety this year with Covid-19!
It seems that everywhere I go someone is talking about Covid-19. While it is important to talk about, it can make us feel anxious and fearful especially when we have loved ones we are worried about.
One of the most important things to remember is to educate ourselves with the facts about Covid-19. (See Alberta.ca for facts). Please remember there is a lot of information posted on social media that is not true and seeing it might create more anxiety. What happens when we are feeling anxious? I feel a tightness in my neck and shoulders, and my heart beats faster than usual. How do you feel in your body when you are anxious? Helping your body relax will help ease some of the anxiety you are feeling.
Mr. Roberts and I have added some things on this website to help you cope with the anxiety that Covid-19 might bring. Take a look at the resources we have added to the caregiver page and check out the fun stuff page showing some of the things we do when we are feeling stressed and anxious.
It’s important to take care of ourselves now more than ever during this time of COVID-19.
Name it to Tame It: Introduction to Feelings.
This is the first in a video series about being feelings detectives. This one talks about recognizing our own feelings and others'. Future videos will deal with specific feelings, including grief, which will be our next video.
The Way I Feel
This is the book The Way I Feel, written and illustrated by Janan Cain. It's all about feelings. This will give you more information about some of the feelings we talked about in our video. Check it out!
Tansi! ihkopîwipîsim 23
There is a storm cloud in my tummy!
Tansi Being a parent or caregiver can be satisfying and fun. It can also be challenging and frustrating. Children’s anger often provides us with a challenge or dilemma. It is helpful when children learn safe limits to their behavior for their own security and for the safety of others. They also need to know that their feelings are understood. When this happens a child feels validated and is helped to develop a healthy sense of self.
Ms Cary Northwest and Ms Susan Spyker, school counsellors have put together a couple of videos addressing big feelings that include frustration, disappointment all the way to anger. Ms Cary is reading a great story called Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. She is inviting you to use your imagination while you listen. You might imagine a storm cloud forming in your tummy as the events happen through the day. It is helpful to visualize and connect with where feelings are coming from. The storm cloud craft might help with that.
Ms Cary and Ms Susan hope that you will listen to the story, make the craft and share your reflections on them. Are you aware of where you feel frustration building? What do you think of storms?
We both hope that you are staying safe, getting some fresh air and will be noticing your feelings as they sometimes come and go like weather.
Ms Cary Northwest is a counsellor at Grace Marie Swampy Memorial Primary School (The Pink School) and can be contacted by email or phone. She can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or texting or phoning 780-312-3273.
Ms Susan Spyker is a counsellor at Mimiw Sakahikan School and Ermineskin Kindergarten School. She can be reached by emailing email@example.com or texting or phoning +1 587-205-5310 or leave a message with the school.
There are many more wonderful blogs and videos on the MESC counselling website. You can find them at https://sites.google.com/maskwacised.ca/mesccounselling/
Tansi! It's November 13 and this is Erika and Jordana from NES!
This week we have added some resources to the Caregiver page about routine and how to make learning from home a success! Whether you are only working from home with your child every other week, or you are choosing to learn from home full time there are challenges and we are here to support you! The entire counselling team also wants to ensure you know we are available to every MESC student no matter where they are learning from this year!
ihkopîwipîsim - (November) 9.
Tanisi! Stephen and Jan at EJSH here. We wanted to share our google classroom with any students from our school as a way to connect with us. Please use the link below to check it out!
TOP 10 SELF-REGULATION STRATEGIES
Breathing - Deep belly breaths, 5 finger breathing, or doing a guided meditation
Doing physical activity - Even something as simple as going for a walk
Have a snack and drink some water - Healthy food that helps my brain feel energized and uplifted
Listen to uplifting music - Picking your favorite feel-good beat to groove to
Do something sensory - Playing with a fidget, make slime, or a mind in a jar
Have quiet time in a safe space - Sometimes it’s fine to relax and be by yourself
Get creative - Make a craft, do some art, draw or colour
Find a distraction - Talk about something different, watch a funny video, just change it up!
Read a book -We have put one in our “fun stuff” for you to enjoy
Stay connected and ask for help - talk to a friend or family member, go on to the MESC counselling website, speak to an elder about ceremony, prayer, or support
ihkopîwipîsim - (November) 6.
This year has been off to a wild start! I was so excited to go back to school and see all of my students and coworkers. I was happy to see some familiar smiling faces, but it was a weird time to come back and only find half of the people here. Then, in October, our schools shut down again and I had to go back home, just when I was starting to get the hang of things. I haven’t felt like myself lately and have really mixed up feelings. Some days I am happy, excited to face the world, and have lots of energy. Other days I am lonely, bored, tired, and just BLAH. My friend Ms Erika showed me this video about self-regulation and it really helped me to understand what is happening when I lose control of my emotions.
Right now, I am dysregulated. My lid is getting flipped easily, I am in the red or blue zone all the time, and things just don’t feel right. I would really like to be regulated again. I want to be in the green zone, with my lid on, calm, and ready to face the world no matter what the day brings. I needed to find some strategies to help me feel like me again so I asked the other counsellors at NSS to help me come up with a list of best strategies for self regulation.
The MESC counselling website has a lot of good tools to be able to use when I am feeling all sorts of different things, so find what is best for you and make your own list! It has been hard to practice these when I am feeling good, but I know it is important to do so that when I am dysregulated I can easily come back to my strategies and be ready to go once more - no matter what comes at me!!!
Kaskatino pisim - (October) 29.
Tanisi Ohpikinahawasiwahk ekwa awâsisak (parents, guardians and children),
We are excited to announce that this website is going to be re-invigorated for the duration of the school year as we work to support students and families, wherever they may be learning from. We are all busy working on creating content and we should have some new posts weekly, starting in November.
We also wanted everyone to know that counselling services remain available to all MESC students, regardless of where they are learning. Feel free to contact your child's school or submit a counselling request through the Connect With Counsellor Page (for non-emergency counselling) to find out more. We look forward to hearing from you!
onôcihitowipîsim- (September) 26.
Mamawi ayayah! (we're together again!). The MESC Counselling Team is pleased to introduce the EJSH counsellors! Watch the video to find out a little more about them.
opaskaweho pisim- (June) 26.
Tanisi Ohpikinahawasiwahk ekwa awâsisak (parents, guardians and children),
We hope this message finds all of you well. As you know, the end of our school year is approaching quickly and we want to make sure that all families have access to mental health support over the summer in these tricky times. We’re hoping that the following will serve as a tool to find help when and if it is needed, as MESC counsellors are not available through the summer months. As always, the numbers below can be called as a first step and there doesn’t need to be an immediate crisis to call. It is always best to call and talk to a knowledgeable helper who can help with the next steps. As always, we are wishing you the very best and really look forward to being in the schools again this fall. Please know that all of the below information (and more) will continue to be available on the MESC Counselling Website at https://counselling.maskwacised.ca/ .
MESC Counselling Team
Mental Health and Crisis Contacts
If you are unsure about if you should call any of the below numbers, please call and they will help direct you if needed. It is better to call if you are unsure.
Maskwacis Mobile Mental Health: crisis line 780-362-2150
Text4Hope: Text COVID19HOPE to 393939 to subscribe for ways to cope with feelings of isolation, etc.
Maskwacis RCMP: 780-585-3767
Maskwacis Ambulance: 780-585-4000
Kids Help Line: 1-800-668-6868
Kids Help Line Text: text ‘connect’ to 686868
FN and Inuit hope for wellness: 1-855-242-3310
Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642
Addiction Help Line: 1-866-332-2322
Connectteen: text only 587-333-2724
Youthspace: text only 778-783-0177
Suicide Prevention: text 45645 call 1-833-456-4566
Maskwacis counselling: 780-585-2268 (Can also be contacted via Facebook)
https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page16944.aspx (COVID-19 info)
opaskaweho pisim- (June) 19.
Freshly Made Bannock...mmmm!
Tanisi, Mrs. Fehr here from Samson Elementary (NES). I hope everyone is doing well!
Every year, June is Pride Month in Canada🏳🌈. It is a time that LGBTQI2S celebrate through pride parades and other celebrations. If you want to learn more about how Pride month began, check out this link. https://blog.gale.com/prideparades/
June 21 is Father’s day! This is the time of year when we acknowledge and honor the father figures in our lives. Check out these links for fun Father’s Day facts, jokes, and crafts.
June 21 is also National Indigenous Peoples day. I’m thinking about my own heritage and how I am proud to know certain things about my culture. I remember as a child learning from my Cree mom and Nokom how to make bannock. My mom always “baked” her bannock in a frying pan over the campfire. She also taught me how to roast it over the campfire on a stick or fry it in hot oil. I liked the hot oil ones the best! I learned how to make bannock when I was about eight years old, and still make it for my family. They love it when I make a big batch! Making bannock is a tradition that I am proud of and I am passing this knowledge on to my children and grandchildren. It makes me feel connected to the Cree part of me and to all my relations. What part of your culture are you proud of? What makes you feel close to your family and relatives? All this bannock talk is making me hungry! I’m heading to the kitchen to make some now!
Here are some affirmations for the month of June following our theme of PRIDE.
What are affirmations? Affirmations are simple, positive statements that we can say to ourselves. They help us to affirm, validate, or encourage ways of positive self-talk. They can help us to calm anxieties in times of worry, reach our goals, or feel good about ourselves.
How do they work? Read the affirmations in your head. Say them outloud. Think of times when you felt this way - proud of you! You can repeat them daily or put them in a special place as a reminder of your strength and pride.
opaskaweho pisim- (June) 12.
HI EVERYONE! Sandi here , from Meskanahk Ka Nipa Wit School
This week’s blog is about one of my favorite things. MUSIC.
I have a million playlists with a lot of different types of music. When I like a song, I put it on replay..it drives my family crazy.
MUSIC is so many things….
Historical, Political, Spiritual, Personal, Social, Fun and so much more...
Here are some examples of the many things music can be *(disclaimer for younger children: I've checked the songs for "non-school language" but there may be some more mature themes):
MUSIC IS POWERFUL
“We can manifest our genius through what no one can take away-our voices and our music”
Music is a powerful creative expression of who we are and where we come from.
N’WE JINAN Youth and Music!!!
Check out this amazing song…..HOME TO ME
N'we Jinan Artists - "HOME TO ME" // Grassy Narrows First Nation
Music can make us feel understood...We can listen to a song and say to ourselves “I felt that”. It can reflect and affirm our most painful and most joyful experiences. Songs often become deeply connected to memory.
Music can help us better understand things that are within or outside our experiences.
Music can be our voice. Music is about being heard.
Music is deeply rooted in tradition and history.
Stay Red-Northern Cree
Music is connected to Justice or lack of Justice.
Make It Bun Dem-Skrillex & Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley
Music can give us hope.
Music can inspire and motivate us.
The Script-Hall of Fame
I love music!!!
This picture is me when a song I like is on!
Now, something to try at home:
Pay attention to how different songs make you think and feel….Does the song make you feel relaxed, sad, motivated, hopeful, bold, strong, does the song remind you of someone or something? Etc…
Some Local Music: What does music mean to Paul Coutre? He had this to say...
“Music has been there for me when nobody else was. It’s been the parent, my Mother or Father when they were not healthy enough to be there for me. Music was the motivation that taught me right from wrong. MUSIC is a LIFE CHANGER”
PAUL HELPED TO CREATE the SONG MAKE IT OUT ALIVE
MONTANA FIRST NATION, MASKWACIS
In 2019 Students from Meskanahk Ka Nipa Wit School created a powerful song titled Make It Out Alive. Click on the link to listen. The song Make it Out Alive is just below the documentary video Life into Lyrics.
ABOUT THE SONG students worked with the production company Darkspark to write and record their song.
Students wanted to give voice to the HOPE, COURAGE, STRENGTH, WISDOM and the BEAUTY of who they are as CREE PEOPLE and their home, MASKWACIS.
They also knew it was important to express their thoughts and feelings about Indigenous Youth who may be experiencing a loss of trust, hope and identity. Students wanted to address the loss of loved ones through tragic circumstances like suicide, addiction, violence and those loved ones who are missing or not in there lives for other reasons. They decided to speak to the struggles. They decided to give suffering a voice.
THEY PRODUCED A BEAUTIFUL MASTERPIECE...A SONG
With wisdom beyond their years, they shared a story of who they are that is filled with COURAGE, TRUTH, LOVE, HONOUR, HOPE and DIGNITY.
It was a great honour to share the experience with them and I am so entirely proud of their outstanding achievement! Look directly below for a link to the site and video of this song.
And last, but not least, a few of Sandi's favourite songs! And check below for some songs to sing to from Ms. Cassandra!
In my mind -Dynoro
Tomorrow Never Comes- Zac Brown Band
Sing it Out! Singing has a lot of benefits for our minds and bodies. Below are some tunes to get you started!
Happy -By:Pharrell Williams
On Me- By: Thomas Rhett, Kane Brown & Ava Max
Saturday Sun- By: Vance Joy
Sunday Best- By: Surfaces
The Other Side- By: SZA & Justin Timberlake
Know Your Worth- By: Khalid & Disclosure
Happier- By: Marshmello & Bastille
Sunflower- By: Post Malone & Swae Lee
Summer Feelings- By: Lennon Stella & Charlie Puth
Thunder- By: Imagine Dragons
opaskaweho pisim- (June) 5.
June is Indigenous History Month
Treaty No. 6 was signed on August 23, 1876 at Fort Carlton in Saskatchewan. The total area of the Treaty stretches from western Alberta, through Saskatchewan and into Manitoba; and includes 50 First Nations. Provisions in the Treaty recognize the notion of the medicine chest as well as the right to education. Chief Bobtail signed the treaty for the Cree people in 1877 and was the first to select the current Maskwacis site as their home.
June is Pride Month
Pride month is an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise political awareness of current issues facing the community.
We are almost there...Hang in there
We are getting close to the end of the school year, just a few short weeks left. This may cause some excitement in some and anxiety in others. Here are a few activities to help get you through. You can visit this page in the summer months and use any of the activities over and over again.
pinawew pisim-ᐱᓇᐁᐧᐤ ᐱᓯᒼ (May) 29.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is when we are thankful for the everyday things in our lives that make us happy and feel good. We can be grateful for the things we have, the people around us and ourselves. It's about focusing on what's good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have. Gratitude is pausing to notice and appreciate the things that we often take for granted, like having a place to live, food, clean water, friends, family, even computer access. Some things that Mrs. Dewald, Miss Charlene and Ms. Leann are grateful for are the teachings brought to us by Elders, community and MESC like our 4 principles that we strive for in everyday interactions.
1.Iyiniw Mamitonehicikan ᐃᔨᓂᐤ ᒪᒥᑐᓀᐦᐃᒋᑲᐣ
Be compassionate; recognize one another’s diverse experiences, views and voice.
2. Nehiyawewin ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ
Be careful with your words; listen, learn, ask questions, and take time to reflect.
3. Nehiyaw Pimatisowin ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐤ ᐱᒫᑎᓰᑐᑕᒼ VTI
Be actively engaged; open-minded, honour spirit and one another.
4. Wahkohtowin ᐘᐦᑯᐦᑐᐏᐣ
Build positive relationships; approach every interaction from a place of love and respect.
Just above is a video explaining what Gratitude is and how it can help us each day:
Here are 10 prompts to get you started.
That makes you happy
You couldn’t live without
Someone that helps you
That makes you smile
You love to do
You are thankful for
Someone you love
You think is fun
That makes you feel good
That makes you laugh
pinawew pisim-ᐱᓇᐁᐧᐤ ᐱᓯᒼ (May) 15
Tanisi everyone! Miss Mariah from NSS here. These days, I am feeling that it is hard to stay home a lot. Does anyone else feel that way? It sometimes makes me feel sad, lonely, or bored. Something I learnt how to do to help me feel grateful and excited is to make everyday special. Instead of thinking that it will be a long time before I can leave home again, I think about how I can make my time at home memorable. Sometimes it is doing something that makes me look forward to the day like planning a special game or activity. Other times, it is dressing up. Even making a weekly menu with my family can turn a blah tuesday into Taco Tuesday and something I look forward to. Last week, I planned to watch a new movie at the same time as my sister who doesn’t live with me. I also had a tea time with my best friends on a video chat. Maybe one of my favorite days last week was when I finally finished my puzzle! I felt so proud! This week, I am sharing with you some of the cool and weird “special days”. Feel free to do some research to find out how these special days came to be. How can you make everyday special? How does this help you to feel better and manage your time at home? How can we honour everyday as Creator’s gift to us?
Thursday May 14 - Dance Like A Chicken Day!
Friday May 15 - National Chocolate Chip Day
Saturday May 16 - Wear Purple for Peace Day
Sunday May 17 - Pack Rat Day
Monday May 18 - International Museum Day
Tuesday May 19 - World Plant a Vegetable Garden Day
Wednesday May 20 - Be a Millionaire Day
Thursday May 21 - National Waiter and Waitresses Day
This video really puts everything into perspective and makes me think how am I going to make TODAY special, for me!
And if you like art, check out the daily draw below!
I LOVE art! What about you? Drawing, painting, coloring, sculpting, beading, and crafting are all some of my favorite things to do. They help me to feel good and to create beautiful things in my life. But, I was wondering WHY art makes me feel good so I did a bit of research. Here is what I found out!
Art helps us to feel good because uncomfortable feelings are hard to say. When we do art, it is a way of organizing those uncomfortable feelings into something outside of us. If we can draw a picture about being angry when it is hard to talk about it, this will help us to let go of that angry feeling.
Art also helps us to focus, concentrate, and “get in the zone”. Sometimes I focus so hard on coloring that I stick my tongue out without even noticing it. This is good for our minds and helps us to improve these skills that help us at other times, like doing mindfulness, meditation, or school learning.
The biggest thing about Art that makes us feel good though is that doing activities we enjoy is good for our mental health. It helps us to set aside some times to focus just on ourself and to check in with how we are doing in this world. Art is something that I enjoy and sometimes I get too busy to do. So whatever it is that you enjoy it is always important to keep doing it, especially when times get tough
I made this daily draw challenge to share with you. Feel free to get inspiration from a word every day and to create art with it. You can also share it with us through MESC mail or posting it on your school facebook page. Mrs Fehr has a special video for you all about how to make paint when you don’t have it at home! I can’t wait to try it out. Happy creating everybody!
pinawew pisim ᐱᓇᐁᐧᐤ ᐱᓯᒼ (May) 8.
Why We Love Pets!
Here are some of the reasons pets can be so beneficial to our well being.
By: Bev, Sandi and Cassandra
Bev and Tiny
Why spending time with animals is beneficial for your health
Animals get you outside
Sun and fresh air both boost your mood, and the sunshine gives you a dose of vitamin D. Horseback riding, walking a dog, or any outdoor activity that involves being with animals is therapeutic.
Animals prevent you from feeling lonely
There is no better way to relieve a sense of loneliness then to interact with animals on a regular basis. We develop relationships with our pets and animals. When we talk to them, we feel as if they are listening to what we say. Animals are a great source of much-needed therapy for anyone.
Animals can bring a smile to your face
You never know when an animal is going to do something extremely funny or cute. This results in a smile or a laugh from you, raising serotonin or dopamine levels, which results in calmness and happiness. Having a cat fall asleep in your lap, or watching the squirrels in your backyard chasing each other around can have a positive impact on your health.
Animals help you get more exercise
An astonishing number of people don't get enough, if any, exercise during the day. Having a pet, or having a reason to interact with other animals results in significantly more physical activity.
Sandi and Jesse
Dogs (atimwak ᐊᑎᒼ ) are especially good at living in the moment and this makes them very good at knowing how we are feeling. They can read us like a book. They can teach us about ourselves. Dogs follow their instincts and can sense things we may or may not be able to. I have been told that dogs can be sent to us as protectors. I believe this is true. They share our joy and our burdens. For this reason, showing kindness and respect to animals is important.
“If we take good care of Dogs they will always be happy to see us. They have a spiritual connection to us; they can sense how we are feeling and love us unconditionally.” --Judy Skeenum
I encourage you to spend time with your pets; dogs, cats, horses or any other animal you connect with. The more you can get outside with your pet the better. Animals, fresh air and sunlight lift the spirit and strengthen body, mind and heart.
A Cree story of how Dogs came to be our companions:
The Dog Stars. A winter Story. Ask an Elder
Ms.Cassandra and Diesel
Growing up I have always had furry friends around my home. Diesel has really helped me when I am feeling lonely or missing my friends and family back home in British Columbia. Dogs have a great way of sensing your emotions and comforting you when needed... without you even telling them (SUPERDOGGOS)! Diesel and I enjoy going for walks, playing fetch and cuddling up on the couch to watch a movie.
“I have a theory, that you get the right dog, the dog that you need, for a particular stage in your life.” - Meg Donohue
We Encourage you to share a picture with us and what you love about your PETS!
E-mail us at:
Below are some ideas from our counsellors to help ourselves feel better in different situations. As with anything, the more we practice, the better we get! Give them a try!
Here are a breathing few techniques to get you through any tough times that you may have during this isolation. Stay healthy!
Some quick tips to help if you find yourself in a funk! It's easy to get into bad habits when we are missing our routine and regular outings but a little thing can make a big difference! Read some quotes that make you feel good, clean up something in your room, or in your house, it helps to be in a clean space and will give you a sense of accomplishment. Drink lots of water, it’s easy to reach for sugary drinks but water is really important. Try a new breathing strategy, there were a few in your wellness packages, and if you reach out to your counsellors they can help you find a new one! Have a dance party inside, it’s a good way to get moving and brighten up your day! Don't be afraid to try something new or to reach out if you are in a funk, we are here to help!
4-7-8 breathing can help when you are feeling stressed, anxious, or need help getting to sleep. Anytime you try a new strategy it takes some practice to get good at it. Since we all have some more time at home there is no better time than now to practice! Breathing this way can help you calm down and put your lid back on, move out of the red zone, and move back into that good thinking space. You can count in your head to keep track of the seconds, or you can use a timer to visually see the time pass while you breathe. Keep practicing, eventually it becomes easy to use these strategies whenever you need!
April 23, 2020
Our counsellors put together this video to let you know that we are still here for each MESC student and family and that we miss you all!
April 16, 2020
Tansi Ohpikinahawasiwin ekwa awâsisak (parents/guardians and children)! This is our first post to welcome you to the MESC counsellor's blog. We will post here weekly, with everything from fun videos to strategies for mental health and everything in between. We hope to mix a little info with a little fun as we all work together to find our way in these new times. All of the school counsellors are excited to connect with the young people from our schools in this way. We also have our Fun Page, with purely fun/inspirational stuff that we will be updating weekly as well, so check that out. Finally, we also have our Connect with a Counsellor page for anyone who would like to have 1-1 contact with their own school counsellor. It is not for crisis counselling but will put you in touch with a counsellor for non-emergency purposes and ongoing support. Feel free to use it if you are a student and are having some tricky feelings that you'd like some help with. Parents and/or guardians may also use this form to connect their child with the counsellor from the school they attend.