Gii Way Quin Daki-Menan: Coming Home to Our Land (CHOL)

This program is currently seeking funding approval. Gii Way Quin Daki-Menan: Coming Home to Our Land (CHOL) is a Wilderness Healing Centre for Indigenous peoples to be established in Georgian Bay, Ontario, at the mouth of Key River. This place of majestic natural beauty has been home to generations of Indigenous peoples and provides the perfect venue to support the CHOL vision.

With the Key River lands secured, CHOL seeks to develop a place of healing for Indigenous peoples through holistic therapies that draw on Indigenous cultural traditions. These therapies take their inspiration from Anishnabia traditions of living off the land and from the Canadian Outward Bound Wilderness School curriculum and operating model. The therapies that shall be offered include: cultural and spiritual teachings and practices, including life Vision Quests and sweat ceremonies; Indigenous, Eastern and Western healing interventions; and life, survival and outdoor skills development. Two culturally/spiritually compatible employment skills training programs will also be offered, including a specialized woodworking program, and later, training and support in eco-tourism.

CHOL program graduates will be encouraged to create product offshoots with more distinctive contemporary Indigenous design features. It is intended that each hand made production will be officially certified to reflect it as an original Indigenous piece. All wood products are made only from local Ontario wood that has been salvaged from forests or reclaimed from building demolition, with trees never cut solely for production.

The following photos reflect the location and space details pertaining to the project:

The following photos depict Indigenous youth learning to work with wood:

The project strives to reconnect/strengthen the cultural, spiritual and environmental bonds, and economic autonomy, of Indigenous participants and their communities and thus serves to:

  • Provide healing services for Indigenous individuals suffering from a range of psychosocial, mental health, and social issues stemming from post-colonial inter-generational trauma as a consequence of institutional policies which unjustly served to demonize and squelch traditional spirituality, culture and values and undermine traditional economies and self-sufficiency, which had been sustainable through millennia.
  • Enable Indigenous participants to reconnect to the land and address their mental health and spiritual needs while bolstering life and career skills, as foundational steps towards exiting the cycle of poverty and for some, criminal justice concerns.
  • Help relieve local poverty through rural community economic development-based intervention by providing community members with skills training. In particular, CHOL will facilitate the development of two local industries in rural and reservation communities: an eco-friendly wood craft industry with modern- and Indigenous-influenced designs and an eco-tourist destination.
  • Enhance participants' self-identity, self-esteem, self-confidence, and acceptance of others through engagement in healing processes and mastery of new skills.
  • Provide a model that can be scaled and replicated by other reserve and rural communities to help promote emotional welling and economic self-sufficiency

CHOL's Unique Hand-Crafted Indigenous Certified Wood Products Program

The CHOL unique hand-crafted wood skills program shall offer 3 months on-site training to participants who will subsequently return to their home communities with related supplies and equipment which will allow program graduates to immediate produce market ready products and continue to evolve their skills, with ongoing technical, business and marketing support through the CHOL program.

CHOL will play an active role in evolving a strong procurement, supply-chain, Indigenous branding/certification and marketing infrastructure for its graduates at both the individual and community levels.

The following photos reflect just some samples of the Indigenous certified, hand crafted wood products: