Resiliency during COVID-19

Resiliency during COVID-19

By Shawna Biron

One of the greatest values our ancestors lived by and passed onto us is the value of strength-based living. Embracing this value during the COVID-19 pandemic will increase you, your family, and community’s resiliency.

What does the strength really mean?

One interpretation is physical strength. For example, one can be strong, such as to lift a heavy object. “Strong” also means to resist force or hold heavy weights without breaking or being damaged.

In terms of COVID-19, we can embrace strength as our ancestors would have—and did—with many pandemics to overcome crisis.

Strength-based does not mean to look at the world though the lens of “positivity” and simply minimize or overlook challenges.

Strength-based means honouring our experiences and challenges, naming them, and looking for the strengths that can be cultivated in each of us to overcome the challenges.

This is a growth mind-set.

Everyone has unique strengths that can be cultivated during these times. Maybe it’s patience that you embrace with your children, courage that you develop by overcoming and embracing uncertainty, or compassion that grows by nurturing others.

Our ancestors recognized that life inherently has challenges, and that challenges provide us with the opportunity to develop and practice our strengths.

What are your strengths that could be developed during these times?

Ask yourself, “What are my inherent strengths and what opportunities are presented today to practice my strengths?”

Do you have inherent strengths or an internal curiosity, calling you to practice or develop?

  • Physical strength: Do you have more time to increase your physical health? Exercise, hike, run, could you invite someone in your family?
  • Mental strength: Do you have a mental strength, such as knowledge, skills, teachings, or stories you that you could share with someone?
  • Emotional strengths: Do you have emotional strengths that you could practice by supporting someone and offer them the gift of compassionate listening?
  • Spiritual strength: Do you have spiritual strength, a connection to spirit and all our relations? Could you offer prayers, smudge, brushing off, meditation, or comforting words of support to someone?

Our strengths are inherent in us, gifts from our ancestors.

If you experienced any sense of calling to any one of these areas of strengths, follow it, pursue it; you will find your own way to develop your strengths during this time to contribute to you, your family, and community’s resilience.

You may experience many emotions during this time, and all are normal.

But remember, let the emotion visit and recall that the strength-based way of living that enabled our ancestor’s survival for thousands of years and made them resilient people, which we have inter-generationally received as gifts to support us now. Our ancestors overcame many hardships and challenging times, during such times they drew on their strengths, practiced them and became stronger, as can we.

All my relations,
Shawna Biron, MA, RCC

Shawna Biron is one of the Ktunaxa Nation’s mental health wellness counsellors.
You can reach her at info@shawnabiron.ca or by calling 250-517-0306.

Visit her website for more articles.



Ktunaxa Lands & Resources Newsletter March 2020

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Ktunaxa Basics Videos

Ktunaxa Nation: Learning Some Basics

Kiʾsuʾk wiⱡnam,

On behalf of the Ktunaxa Nation, we wish to share some videos to help us all through the social distancing. We hope these videos will help you feel less isolated, we are in this together. If you would like to suggest a new topic, please email Donald Sam.

Ktunaxa Basics 1: ʔamak̓is ktunaxa:
The Land of the Ktunaxa: How our stories define who we are, where we come from and how we understand the world around us.


Ktunaxa Basics 2: ka·kikiǂ haqwaǂa:

Deep Cultural Concepts: What are some of the things that were amazing enough to be passed down through our families? Why is culture so important, and sometimes difficult, to pass on and to share?


Ktunaxa Basics 3: ʔa·knumuȼtiǂiǂ:

How We Get Along: Traditional Ktunaxa leadership calls for collective observation, understanding and problem solving. It involves consideration for each other and learning about expectations so we can be present with respect.

Ktunaxa Basics 4: ʔa·kǂukaqwum:

From One Mind to Many: How we share ideas with others through our language. Finding a deeper understanding of why Ktunaxa Speakers don’t just put Ktunaxa words on English grammar.


Ktunaxa Basics 5: ʔiǂkiǂwiynam:

Becoming Wise: Ktunaxa Ways of Knowing. The inter-generational transmission of knowledge includes learning to find our hearts as we make decisions. We see the responsibility of learning as shared by both learner and mentor.

Ktunaxa Basics 6: Colonization:

Colonization: Our networks help us be resilient within the context of colonization. You wouldn’t judge a fish for not being able to climb a tree. Let’s not judge ourselves for ways we’re distinct from colonizers.


Ktunaxa Basics 7: CIRSS:

The ‘Canadian Indian’ Residential School System: Dr. Horsethief shares a perspective on a system that was deliberately designed to enact sustained genocide.



Ktunaxa Nation Council government moves to remote services delivery, announces closures

For Immediate Release

March 20, 2020


Ktunaxa Nation Council government moves to remote services delivery, announces closures


Ktunaxa Traditional Territory/Columbia Valley

In order to reduce the potential for transmission of the COVID-19 virus and to protect public health, the Ktunaxa Nation Council government offices and facilities are now closed to the public. Most staff are working from home, and most program delivery is now via remote connection, such as online or by phone.


Shawna Janvier, Chief Administrative Officer for the Nation, said the decision to move to remote service delivery was made to align with current best practices.


“The Nation and our communities are doing what we can to protect public health and safety, given this unprecedented emergency,” Janvier said. “We know the limitation of some of our services, such health services, and the closure of others, such as daycares, will create challenges for our communities.


“We also know that, like every other municipality, government and service provider, this is our golden opportunity to take steps to reduce harm before it reaches a crisis point regionally,
and we intend to do our utmost to support all community members through this period.”


Janvier said the Nation is still delivering services wherever possible, as possible.


“Most KNC staff are still available,” Janvier said. “Just not for ‘face-to-face’ meetings.
We encourage people to reach out by phone or email to their usual contacts in each sector.”


Those who would like to share information with the Nation’s emergency preparedness team can email EPC@ktunaxa.org.


“Our communities and staff are making the best of a challenging situation,” Janvier said. “We acknowledge them for doing the right thing and we look forward to reopening our government buildings and re-establishing ‘services as usual’ as soon as we are able.”

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Client Service Notice