The Montreal Native Women’s Shelter Spirit Walk beats fundraising record

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Bigger and stronger than ever, the 2018 edition of the’s Spirit Walk attracted 175 walkers and raised an unprecedented $32,000 to pay for a healing retreat and other services for the women and children staying in the shelter.

“It’s insane – last year we only raised $18,000,” exclaimed Nakuset, the shelter’s Executive Director.

The money replaces funding from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation that was cut five years ago. It had paid for a two-week healing retreat for women and children in a beautiful location by a lake, ceremonies, workshops, self-care such as yoga, and to help them learn about their culture and parenting skills.

“This is a fun camp-type of experience for them but with a strong healing component involved,” explained Nakuset. “After our funding was cut, some of our volunteers said, ‘Why don’t we fundraise and do it?’ That is what we have done for the last five years.”

Donors were very generous this year, with some giving up to $500. The funds go to transport, feed and lodge the women and children from the shelter and volunteers running the retreat. Others donate their time. The volunteers, often Elders, run the workshops and ceremonies.

“We are going up in August and we are going to have more volunteers with them and more Elders to do the ceremonies,” said Nakuset.

Other money will also help deal with other of funding cuts at the shelter, such as for a family care worker who helps women with Department of Youth Protection issues and follows through on measures Youth Protection may impose on mothers.

Nakuset said that the shelter has also lost funding for its addictions worker. While she was able to get a $20,000 grant from the Eco Foundation, she is hopeful that additional funding will be found for that project.

The great needs and insufficient resources means the shelter is constantly trying to raise funds for a second-stage housing facility. While the city has allowed the shelter to select a building, Nakuset says that they are looking to both the federal and provincial governments to come up with the remaining $7 million to complete the project.

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