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Massaging our mental health

Courtesy Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte

November reminds us to take care of ourselves in different ways, and Spirit of Wellness (SOW) and Movember are two fine examples of seasonal reminders.

Tis the season for Christmas and holidays and hot beaches, but it’s also the season of depression, sickness, and bad thoughts, so let’s do our part to cheer each other up and get through what has traditionally (in the contemporary sense) been a tough time for most people.

Spirit of Wellness, a Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services initiative, reminds us to slow down, take care of our mental health, and also just to sit down to create something with our hands that helps to fight depression and anxiety.

We all need someone to talk to, and if you don’t have anyone, The Eastern Door is always here, no matter what your issue is. We can’t always write about it if it’s not fit to print, as we say, but we can listen. That’s a big part of our job.

And sometimes that’s all it takes, a caring ear, a helping hand, a non-judgmental shoulder to cry on.

Coming out of the pandemic, we see plenty of side effects from the prolonged pause on life (no, we don’t mean the vaccines themselves), and we are at the forefront of observing, reporting on, and caring about them all.

That’s what a good community newspaper does; it gives you a hug when needed but can also kick you in the butt when that’s needed too (hello there, both Mohawk Councils).

SOW needs to continue far beyond November, or at least the spirit of it, pardon the pun. And we all just need to be more understanding in the face of things we deal with every day as Onkwehón:we.

Mental health is often ignored, especially among men, and that’s part of the reason The Eastern Door editor chose to do Movember, to raise awareness and have that conversation.

During this time, however, life has thrown a wrench into the wheel and, well, the campaign has taken a bit of a back seat to family issues, but it is still ongoing and you can still donate! We keep moving forward.

Growing a mustache is easy (for some), but talking about prostate cancer and the loneliness of cancer treatments are not, so we will have those conversations and we will keep doing our part for a cure.

In our research we found the obvious: men are stubborn and won’t go to a doctor. Everyone knows that, and it’s something we have to change.

But we also found that professionals in high-pressure jobs are also too busy helping others to take care of their own health – think doctors and many medical professionals as the glaring example.

As a result, a number of big names in our community in the medical field, many of whom were doctors, found out too late they had cancer, and they died partially because they were too busy caring for others. You know who they are.

And that’s such a shame.

But what it shows is even people we hold in such high esteem, who sacrifice so much with so little recognition, are dying due to the stresses of the job and putting others before their own health.

If that doesn’t scare you into getting checked out, we don’t know what will.

As we continue on our journey, this month to December and into 2024, we want to remind you that you all matter, and we want to see you all far into the future so we can cover your stories, share advice, and be there when your loved one does something amazing, to help you tell everyone all about it!

If you’d like to donate to Steve Bonspiel’s Movember campaign, please send an e-transfer to stevebonspiel@hotmail.com so 100% of the money can stay in town with the local cancer groups. If you’d rather donate to the global movement, please visit https://ca.movember.com/mospace/15110445.

Together, we can end debilitating cancers for a brighter future for all.

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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec.
Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news.
He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications.
Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award.
He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.

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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec. Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news. He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications. Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award. He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.