Topics: – 

  • Supporting mental health in the winter months
  • Water woes for First Nations
  • Climate emergency based on scientific evidence

 As we live our time of waiting, as we as believers anticipate Christmas, we do preparations and routine activities with renewed hope. I am sending this as a way to prepare for the coming year.

I asked a friend, about what she would be interested in hearing about from this communique, and she suggested mental health care in the winter months. From a part of the recent National Communique, a report by Dr. Rayleen De Luca, Sub-Committee Chairperson notes:  “Health symptoms brought about by long term stress include low energy, headaches and migraines, chest pains and rapid heartbeat, insomnia, frequent colds and infections, upset stomach and depression.

The causes of stress in women are complex. Women take on many roles, including family obligations, caregiving of others, etc. As demands increase to fulfill these roles, women can feel overwhelmed and may feel a sense of failure if unable to meet expectations set by themselves or others. Too often, women spend more time meeting the needs of others rather than nurturing their own needs.

Effectively managing stress is critical to a woman’s health. There is growing evidence spiritual practices are associated with better health and wellbeing. Not surprising, prayer has been identified as extremely beneficial.” Summaries on the internet have similar ideas – nutritious foods, social supports, being kind to ourselves. I am offering a summary of the ideas for support for our mental health from the internet. It suggests the following five efforts for us to consider as our supports for our mental health:

  • Make good sleep a priority. Many of us have read articles on this, about removing distractions in the bedroom, to having a regular sleep/wake schedule. A new idea might be to have a weighted blanket.
  • Take time to relax and recharge. A hike, a warm bath, journaling, all help, as might writing down one thing that you are grateful for each day.
  • Seek professional help if you need it, for developing goals, changing thought patterns, and solving problems.
  • Practice self-forgiveness.

“While forgiveness doesn’t stop the pain or the consequences of what happened, it can help lead to a sense of peace and the mending of relationships. … it’s important to first examine one’s role in the transgression and acknowledge it. Then, through developing empathy for ourselves, we can begin to look at how we can make things right, such as trying to undo harm, choosing to do kind and generous acts, and practicing self-care.” It is a way to learn and grow.

  • Stay active – you knew this was coming! This helps the brain hormones that improve our mood and sense of well-being and can even be helped by yoga and tai-chi.

There are many other ideas – meditation, keeping in touch with family and friends, music, light boxes – please consider asking the ladies of your Council what they do to help themselves.

During our year of the theme of Our Common Home, we have been asked to focus on water issues. We still have a long way to go to help First Nations address their water woes. From a David Suzuki 2018 report, it is recommended to help by adopting a First Nation-led models for fixing water problems; if you are in communication with your Member of Parliament, it is noteworthy that the funds committed to deal with this for First Nations is only 75% of the need. Our government’s performance on issues, like ensuring First Nations water treatment operators get the same pay as their municipal counterparts, implementing source water protection plans, and matching government policies with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, are areas where governance can help fix water problems. From the report : “ The fact that… there are hundreds of First Nations that are facing a situation where they can’t drink the water, where they can’t bathe their children in the water, where they can’t have a cup of tea, is totally unacceptable and it’s a long-standing injustice that needs to be redressed” How can we help? From a statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, we can avoid bottled water, reduce use, protect rivers and lakes, ensure water remains a public good (Bishop Gordon from Victoria diocese has called on members for a resolution on this point), and make your voice heard that the federal government fulfils its pledge to provide clean drinking water on First Nations reserves.

Also, from our Education and Health National Communique: People across Canada have been reacting to the statement by 11,000 scientists representing more than 153 countries that declared that we have a climate emergency based on scientific evidence. Young people are expanding our thinking, motivating us to care about ecological issues in a broader context, to consider the moral, ethical and spiritual aspects of the actions that caused these challenges. Pope Francis does the same regularly.

Encourage councils to actively show support for young people who advocate for the earth, especially in raising awareness of the current climate crisis. Convince members to show support and provide hope—it is not too late! Suggest councils take part in marches—members will be impressed by young people’s leadership, organizational skills, ability to make things happen on short notice, the tone and quality of the speeches, and the large turnout of people of all ages.

As we move into the New Year, we are asked to advertise bursaries and scholarships that are available to our members, to help them enhance their personal and spiritual growth, by attending various conferences, seminars and workshops. On the website there is a poster to advertise the BC & Yukon Provincial Molly Boucher Bursary, and the brochure for the National Bursary Fund. Please circulate these among your members.

May you have a blessed and joyful Christmas.

Together in Christ,