VANCOUVER, BC – Working together with one heart, one mind.
That is the spirit of Naut’sa Mawt, and what Hope and Health continues to embody despite the present circumstances that call for physical distancing.
An organization that utilizes soccer to build resilience and connection amongst Indigenous youth, Hope and Health was slated for their greatest year of growth and expansion in 2020 until the pandemic forced regular operations to come to a pause, suspending in-community programming.
However, recalling the traditional Coast Salish Hul̓q̓umín̓um̓ saying, Hope and Health has found ways to continue developing life and leadership skills among Indigenous youth.
“It’s forced us to be innovate and use different approaches online like everyone else,” says co-founder and executive director Deana Gill-Georgica.
Home and Health recently launched H3O (Hope and Health at-Home Online), a virtual program that connects and builds relationships among youth from seven different Indigenous nations that are geographically spread out from Vancouver Island to North Vancouver.
It’s proven to be very effective, allowing for even more personal interaction, thanks to the support from the youth’s families.
“It’s actually more intimate and personal setting experience that meeting at a gym or field,” said Gill-Georgica. “The parents have had to be so much more hands-on. With parents and aunties helping, they’re making the commitment to help and support the youth. It has created more engagement with parents and communities.”
Whitecaps FC have stayed connected with the youth as well, despite having to put off their annual visits for now.
Week 7 of H3O BOOTCamp & DeterMIND was awesome- especially with our special guests @jakenerwinski and @mcrepeau 🙌🏻 sharing their positive vibes and wisdom. ⠀ We are learning and growing together- truly moving in the spirit of Naut’sa Mawt - building soccer technical skills, personal and team leadership 💙⚽️❤️ ⠀ Thanks to all of the coaches , participants and their parents/aunties who make this happen and so special🙏 excited for our week 8 wrap up/celebration (Pom poms anyone?!) ⠀ #oneheartonemind #strongertogether #champions #changinglives @whitecapsfc @ubcwsoccer @kwumut_lelum @helijet @soccerxdotcom @pacificfootballclub @viumariners @jessecsymons @matt_arnett3 @thompsonnelson @michaelgirard1 @marjaar @sabrina_anderson5 @lyndasutherland @sarahgeorgica @joeyboayes @deana_gill @edgeorgica @jacksr.denny @lj_0813 @kelsey.jack.777 @cageorge77
Maxime Crepeau and Jake Nerwinski, who both serve on Hope and Health’s board, have joined in the virtual sessions, continuing their commitment to being a mentor and resource. Even ‘Caps mascot Spike has joined the fun.
“The Whitecaps have been just as involved alongside us as a partner which has been amazing and special,” said Gill-Georgica. “That’s been a neat opportunity to grow and try something together and it has worked out really well.”
“I got the opportunity to talk to the youth about perseverance and reacting to failure, as well as problem-solving which can happen in personal or group issues,” said Crepeau. “It's important to connect with these kids even though we're inside, there's way to connect and to participate in opening conversations.”
More than ever, every Canadian is reminded of their responsibility to support the communities.
“Our history of colonization is a hard truth and in order to move through to reconciliation we have to face our truth as Canadians and figure out what role each of us plays because it takes all of us to create new pathways for the future,” emphasized Gill-Georgica.
“The play such a big part of our culture, we owe everything to them,” said Crepeau. “The richness of our country is in our people, especially the Indigenous peoples, and this is something we need to remember to celebrate.”
Hope and Health is helping raise awareness to Indigenous communities with various initiatives including on social media, while contributing to decolonization and anti-racism efforts.
Part of Hope and Health’s action-oriented countdown campaign to National Indigenous Peoples Day this weekend, Whitecaps FC provided a jersey crested with Naut’sa Mawt for a prize draw to help spread the word.