No Baby Left Behind - Indigenous Caregivers Healing & Action Circle is a community-based healing and advocacy initiative that engages low-income Indigenous lone-caregivers in East Vancouver. The initiative provides an opportunity for the caregivers to collectively support each other to heal from the stress of lone-parenting through a pandemic while experiencing the inter-generational trauma of colonialism and the residential school system.
The project facilitates collective advocacy to the Province of BC and the City of Vancouver on the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples' Act in BC in relation to Indigenous lone-caregiver and child poverty. No Baby Left Behind activities are determined by circle participants and may include group ceremonial healing events such as sacred fires, talking circles, letter-writing, meeting with elected provincial and municipal officials and policy stakeholders, and raising public awareness through community-based events. The initiative, which runs to 2023, is facilitated by Indigenous SMA member Leona Brown with Elder Mia Hunt.
We would like to thank the Vancity Community Foundation and Vancity for their generous financial support for the project.
Mia Hunt: Born Metis Cree, adopted and raised Heiltsuk in Bella Bella, B.C. Mother of 4 daughters and 2 sons; grandmother of 7 grandsons and 6 granddaughters. Due to colonization my parents had addictions to drugs and alcohol which led me to being apprehended by social services. But I was so blessed to be rescued by my grandparents in Bella Bella, and raised by them and to learn their teachings of traditional food, medicines, and cedar bark, and how to prepare them for the winter months. Although I have lived in Vancouver for 30+ years now, I still go home to Bella Bella as often as possible to harvest foods, medicine, and cedar bark for weaving. I love sharing the tranditional teachings, especially with Indigenous people that were robbed of their culture. I worked for the Native Education College (NEC) for many years, and still work at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) as an elder, to support our Indigenous students and to share our cultural teaching with both students and faculty. I am doing my best to heal from intergenerational trauma, and to bring pride into our youth for a stronger next generation, as our youth are our future.
Leona Brown: A Gitxsan and Nisga’a mother of 3 children, of the Fireweed House and the Killerwhale Clan. I am an Indigenous Independent Cultural Facilitator. I gained 3 years of training in Land and Lives around Indigenous Culture with the Resurfacing History Program Coordinated by Jolene Andrew. This work has become my Healing Journey, the grassroots teachings and knowledge is shared with my children. This knowledge is important to know who we are and where we come from and how we live with the Lands and Waterways around us. As a Gitxsan Refugee in the unceded territories of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-waututh, I have taken on land-based work here in the city and thrive as a great ambassador to the work Resurfacing History has taught me around Indigenous food and resources that we harvest in the city. I advocate at every opportunity with the Vancouver School Boards, City of Vancouver, and Vancouver Parks Board for all opportunities for Indigenous People to relearn our culture on the lands and waterways that we live on as we actively talk of Reconciliation.
As an Indigenous Cultural Facilitator I lead talking circles, workshops on salve making, plant medicines, decolonizing talking circles and I help organize taking groups to the mountain to harvest Devil's Club. I have partnerships with the Aboriginal Mothers' Centre, Single Mothers' Alliance, BC Coalition for Healthy School Food, Vancouver Urban Food Forest, and Frog Hollow Neighborhood House. I work with and engage in committee work the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), DPAC-Indigenous Education Council, DPAC-Black & Indigenous Working Group, the City of Vancouver's Food Policy Committee (VFPC), and with the Vancouver Park Board to create sites to develop decolonized community spaces. I also sell salves and tinctures during summer for both individuals and groups.