Wabano Team Celebrates Resilience, Walking Many Paths Together

Thirty youth, staff and volunteers are running for the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Natalie Lloyd, General Administrator, who has participated in the past says, “We have done much better than I thought we would. We haven’t run a team in years! The reaction and energy has been so positive, it is such a good feeling.” This is the first time the Wabano Centre has registered in the Desjardins Charity Challenge and is the first Indigenous charity to register in the Charity Challenge’s history. 

Lloyd will be running the 2K, using the race goal as a way to increase outdoor activity, “Exercise is an important part of my health and my thirteen year old daughter inspired me to register.” Allison Fisher, Executive Director of 23 years, will run the 5K. One team member is registered to run the full marathon. Lloyd said, “Each person chooses the right distance for their goals, just as there are many paths to healing. This may be a first for many of us, coming together like this, even being there may be a lot for some people. We walk different paths to healing, and on the 28th we will walk, run, cheer together at the finish line.”

“It is great to see that it is not just staff. Youth jumped on board and community members joined. We will finally be side by side again.” So far a total of 46 people have joined Team Wabano. The goal of $10,000 represents part of the goals for Team Wabano, “To look at the race holistically, we are all coming together for the first time after a time of imbalance. We have all hit walls, and had to push through walls, both physical and spiritual. Now we are coming together, rebalancing together. At the race line we are connected to each other and to something larger than ourselves. No one has all the answers. Fatigue may set in, energy may get low. Let our coming together be a celebration and message that we are okay, we are figuring it out together. Let us keep going back to teachings of kindness.”

The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health provides many paths to healing, rooted in culture, serving infants & children, youth, adults and senior Indigenous people. “The staff went where there was need and rose to the occasion throughout the pandemic. They were creative, patient, and innovative at each turn. We never closed down services at all. Programs pivoted to visit community members or looked to connect in new ways. Seniors’ needs for supplies, food, and cleaning became more complex during the isolation of lockdowns. Wabano received funding to provide practical assistance and we were able to do 26,000 wellness checks by staff. Staff were mitigating isolation and increasing connection through phone calls – when someone said they were not okay we would have someone come see them that day.” Lloyd describes, “People really stepped up. During the first year of the pandemic, 13 newborn babies were delivered. Welcome baskets were delivered with baby blankets, toys, and any needed furniture. Wabano switched to land-based programming, something we have always wanted to do, and suddenly needed to transition to. There was a Halloween activity at Vincent Massey Park in staggered groups. All of us became master Covid-screeners and sanitizing experts. There was not one Covid outbreak at Wabano.”

Wabano pivoted service delivery for each program and kept up with constant changes, and now have delivered over 37,000 vaccine doses since February 2021. Wabano’s building expansion eight years ago added a one-of-a-kind healing space which will be opening to guests again in time for their annual Gala. The plans for expansion of services and community, Lloyd says, are ambitious and needed.

Team Wabano will be wearing matching shirts and may have drums at the finish line to bring to the cheering section. Show your support by visiting their team page to join or make a donation to ensure they reach their $10,000 goal for the Desjardins Charity Challenge.