The Piipiichaau Uchishtuun (Robin’s Nest) Women's Shelter in Waskaganish was formally inaugurated at a ceremony on November 20, 2018.
This project is collaboration between the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB), the Cree Nation Government, and Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association (CWEIA), with the support of the Cree Nation of Waskaganish. The Cree Nation Government funded and oversaw construction of the building, and the CBHSSJB will operate the new facility with programs developed in partnership with CWEIA.
The new shelter will serve primarily women from the coastal communities of Eeyou Istchee, complementing the services offered at a similar shelter operating since 2017 in the inland community of Waswanipi. Robin’s Nest will provide healing methods based on Cree traditions and values, while respecting individual beliefs, for women and their children who are experiencing domestic violence nanako akwiwaiisoon. The shelter can accommodate women on their own or with children.
“Piipiichaau Uchishtuun is an important part of our effort to nurture Miyupimaatisiiun in our communities,” said Bella M. Petawabano, Chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. “We aim to create important social supports that may assist the transformation and healing of vulnerable families. This shelter, and the one in Waswanipi, are essential tools for achieving this long-term objective for the health of our communities.”
Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum stated, “These women’s shelters form part of a much bigger plan. This plan includes prevention and intervention programs and services to support, protect and encourage women and families. Despite the tremendous strides that we have made over the past 40 years, we have yet to ensure that all the women and children in our communities can live free of violence. We must also acknowledge the role that the Department of Justice of the Cree Nation Government has played in bringing this Treaty commitment to reality. It is through exemplary collaborations like this one that we will continue to build safer, healthier and stronger communities for everyone.”
Virginia Wabano, CBHSSJB Coordinator of Robin’s Nest Women’s Shelters, noted the significance of opening a second shelter in Eeyou Istchee, “Our shelters are within our Territory, in our own language, incorporating our cultural values into healing programs. This is what cultural safety looks like in practice.”
Attending Tuesday’s inauguration will be Bella M. Petawabano, Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum, Virginia Wabano, Waskaganish leadership and members of the new Quebec government including Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs, Sylvie D’Amours, and Denis Lamothe, Member for Ungava. The program will take place inside the new facility, with speeches to be followed by a lacing ceremony, gifts, and a building tour. Video from the ceremony was broadcast via Facebook Live on the @Creehealth Facebook page.