Often times, men’s support group isn’t a service that is readily available in society. The mental and spiritual well being of men is a facet that there needs to be a collective outlet and support for. Conayt Friendship Society has seen this gap in service and began a program for this said need.
The Men’s support group, or Men’s Warrior Circle, is a program by Conayt that was started up in March of this year. Its aim is to provide a safe environment for men to discuss their life struggles and the challenges they face in finding their way back in society.
“We have a lot of men warriors out there lost, and their self esteem is low,” said Alcohol and Drug Counsellor Richard Jackson. “They need help to process what they’re going through, relationships with their partners, with their children, and everything else in life.”
Since March 23, the group has held a meeting every Wednesday at the back of the Conayt building. They have opened their doors and invited men from all walks of life.
“Having a men’s group for healing is a chance for men to come together and understand that we all have problems that we need to talk out with other men,” Jackson explained. “It’s good to have that dialogue of men’s issues cause only men can help other men.”
The meetings are held every Wednesday at noon. The group follows a program which includes prayer, music, food, and a discussion of their chosen topic of the week.
“I’ve been coming here since April,” said Doug Dixon, member of the Warrior Circle.
“Sometimes there’s only two or three of us here, but what I’ve found is we’ve gradually grown, with now around 10 people regularly coming to the sessions.”
Dixon, who admits he isn’t a regular goer of support groups, noted that he has observed the positive impact of attending in his life. He has also seen growth among his fellow members throughout months of attending the meetings.
“The men find it really comfortable to participate because it’s their group, not mine,” Jackson explained. “We have different ages here. We have some elders, some younger men, and we also have different relationships. We have brothers and we’re hoping to also have father and son parings join to give a better healing experience to the group.”
The Herald attended during the November 9 meeting of the support group. The program starts with a prayer followed by hand drumming.
“After Richard leads the opening prayer, I grab the drum and play our opening song,” said member Leonard Bearshirt, who during the meeting played an Indigenous Veterans song in commemoration of Indigenous Veterans Day.
“The drum beat helps all the men here. The drum is our power, it is a symbol of strength and of who we are as Indigenous people. It’s always a good feeling to play that drum and sing to the members.”
After music comes food. A free meal is served to the members attending the meetings. There were eight members who attended the November 9 meeting, all were welcoming, some very enthusiastic in sharing how the group has helped their life.
“I was attending other meetings for another group when I learned about this men’s group,” said Dakota, the youngest member of the circle. “I was quite intrigued that it was covering the dynamics of life itself, so I decided to participate.”
“The one thing that really hits home is that the group allows me to ask questions about my life and role in this world,” he added. “It allowed me to ask those questions that I otherwise would shy away from.”
After a brief introduction, the group had their discussion on their topic of the week, parenting and fatherhood. Members were eager to share their personal experiences on the matter, and did not hold back. Jackson said this eagerness is needed for the healing process to be strong.
“We talk about men’s issues with the rest of the group and that’s what makes the healing so strong.”
The group will continue to hold their Wednesday meetings until December, when they will take a short Christmas break and resume sessions back again in January 2023. The support group is a free of charge service and all men are invited to join. For more information, please call Conayt at (250) 378-5107.