Callout for community support towards Giwaabamins Free Clinic now in it's 2nd year!!
Ten years ago, Cathy Zhoong D'eh Kwe (Strong Hearted Woman) has been operating a grassroots Street Patrol out of her apartment. Four years ago she focused on healthcare and offering a free clinic to the street community. The patrol had grown to the point that she could no longer work out of her living space and she procured a commercial space in the Bloor west area of Toronto, under a vintage clothing store. She is now in year two of making this dream a reality of a free apothecary specific for the street-involved community.
During the first year in the official space, Giwaabamin offered support with various programs throughout the city that worked with marginalized BIPOC and 2slgtbqia+ communities that struggle with street-related acute and chronic health ailments. Giwaabamin also created a safe space for sharing circles and provide supplies needed for those that transitioned from the streets into housing. Funds were also used to get people safely home when they reached out to reserves, especially during the pandemic. In year two we are planning to open the space more to include beading circles as well as free indigenous movie nights, to create a safe space that is welcoming. Regular patrol and encampment visits will continue, bringing the apothecary to the street. Including working with harm reduction-based sharing circles with other native programs.
Cathy is a 54-year-old Native single mother of three autistic boys. She founded Giwaabamin because even while the number of natives experiencing houselessness was overrepresented, the number of native workers was very low. She saw the need to bring Indigenous representation to community-based healthcare that was also inclusive of traditional medicines and ceremonies. Though Giwabaamin is still focused on supporting Indigenous community members, the program has expanded to include all street-involved folks. Throughout the pandemic, Cathy has been visiting encampments, COVID hotels, and people's homes to drop off care packages and medicines. Giwaabamin was run out of pocket by Cathy, with additional support from community donations like clothing, food and apothecary supplies and herbal supplies. Through Giwaabamin, Cathy offers free medicine, hot food, artisan teas, hospital aftercare, immune support, covid and wound care, and now Accudetox. She also firmly believes in using herbs to support those in active use or while they are in recovery. The clinic provides clients with the healthcare they want and need, free from racism, judgment or classist biases, with values heavily rooted in harm reduction.
If you are able, please donate and kindly share this campaign with your networks. Let's make year two even more of a success.