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Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 1-7th 2023

Each Year the first week of October is Canada’s National Campaign to enhance the awareness of mental Illness. The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health set out the theme this year as Awareness, Access and Parity for Mental Health and Substance use Care in Canada. It is important to take time this week to educate yourself on mental illness. With greater understanding we strive to reduce stigma related to mental illness and substance use, along with breaking down barriers to seeking support around these issues. We want to encourage individuals with lived experiences or for those who have been affected to share their stories to break down barriers so people don’t feel alone in their struggles and to identify gaps in the need for services.

A mental illness is characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation or behavior. It is usually associated with distress or impairment in important areas of functioning. It should be stated that because you have a mental illness does not mean you have poor mental health, and vice versa, you may not have a mental illness but you can still have poor mental health. It is important for each one of us to look after our mental health as we would care for our physical health.

At any one time many factors such as stress, family, community, or environmental factors can combine to protect or undermines one’s mental health. The World Who Organization states that although many people are resilient to life’s adversities, there are circumstances that could put individuals at higher risk such as poverty, violence, disability and inequality. Protective factors and risk factors can include individual psychological and biological factors such as emotional skills and coping and as well as genetics.  Many of the risk and protective factors are influence through changes in brain structure or function.


  • Each year 1 out of 5 Canadians experience a mental Health illness each year. – Mental Health Commission of Canada
  • More than 1 in 2 of struggling Canadians are not getting the mental health help they need. – Mental Health Research Canada
  • Untreated mental illness costs the Canadian economy around $50 billion every year. – Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Over 20% of Canadians in any given year will experience mental health concerns, only a third of those people will seek help or treatment. – Statistics Canada
  • In Canada, an average of 20 deaths per day are because of opioid overdose. – Statistics Canada

Please take time to educate yourself on mental health/illness. It is important we are all working together to raise awareness, fight stigma and provide support to those in need.

Should you or a loved one need support please do not hesitate to reach out for help. You can contact the Manitoba Suicide Prevention and Support Line at 1-877-435-7170, a crisis line available 24 hours per day. A trained crisis worker will listen to you and direct you to the resources you need. Locally you can contact Westman Crisis Services at 204-725-4411 or 1-888-379-7699 in Brandon Area, or 1-866-332-3030 for PMH-North- In an emergency call 911 or contact a local hospital or health office.

COMING SOON:   On Nov. 30 2023 the 988-suicide crisis line will be available to all Canadians in English and French, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. It will offer trauma-informed and culturally appropriate services by trained crisis responders by phone or text.

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World Suicide Prevention Day | September 10

World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10. Across the Prairie Mountain Health region, numerous activities are planned for the week of September 10 to recognize the importance of suicide prevention strategies and remember those lost by suicide. The theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day is Creating Hope Through Action, as outlined by the International Association for Suicide Prevention.1

One in every 100 deaths worldwide is a result of suicide, and the impact of a person’s death by suicide can be devastating and felt deeply by their support network. World Suicide Prevention Day is a chance to talk about suicide and realize that each of us can play a valuable part in preventing suicide, whether our actions are big or small. 2. Suicide prevention is everyone’s business.

The power of coming together and reaching out is immeasurable. Often, we fear that intervening when someone else is struggling and asking about suicide will put the idea of suicide in someone’s head. This is a myth.

Talking about suicide is difficult, but there are things you can do. You can listen to people with a non-judgmental ear and remind the person you care for them. You can check in with people regularly to see how they are doing and listen supportively. You do not need to have all the answers. You can let others know they are not alone. You can be aware of resources in your area and introduce people to those resources.

Some activities you can participate in:

  • Light a candle in your window to remember someone lost by suicide at 8 pm on September 10.
  • Chalk your sidewalk with hopeful messages, walk down these sidewalks with someone, and talk about mental wellness.
  • Take part in an awareness walk in your area.
  • Attend mental wellness education that could help you learn more about preventing suicide.

Events happening in some PMH rural and northern communities:

  • Chalk the Walk– happening in Ste. Rose, Swan River, Dauphin, and Roblin. Community members or businesses interested in participating can pick chalk up from their local HERO Club or Community Health office in Swan River, Roblin and Dauphin, and the Community Health office in Ste. Rose. Chalk the Walk does not have a set date and will run from September 4 to 11th in these communities.
  • Awareness Walks– happening in Swan River and Roblin. The Walk in Swan River will start and end at Co-op and occur between Noon – 1 pm on September 8. Roblin’s Awareness Walk will start and end at the Roblin HERO Club (146 Main Street West) and run from 1 pm – 2 pm on September 11.
  • SafeTalk-workshops – happening in Roblin, Ste. Rose and Swan River on September 11. SafeTalk workshops in Swan River and Ste. Rose are from 1 pm – 5 pm and in Roblin from 9 am – Noon. If you are interested in registering, contact Lana Parker at or phone 204-638-2118 ext. 1713. The cost to participate is $20.

Events happening in the Brandon Area:

The Suicide Prevention Implementation Network (SPIN) will host several initiatives from September 4 to 11th. SPIN will acknowledge World Suicide Prevention Day on September 8, 2023. Please follow SPIN on social media for event updates.

  • Chalk the Walk – SPIN hopes businesses and support services around Brandon will partner with SPIN in this campaign. If interested in participating, SPIN will provide chalk and corresponding marketing materials. SPIN asks that each organization start the initiative on their sidewalk with their message of hope, tagging @spin_brandon and encouraging clients/individuals within your business to participate. SPIN will re-share your posts to recognize your support. Please contact  to make arrangements to pick up chalk. 
  • Clothing fundraiser – new SPIN signature sweaters and a special World Suicide Prevention Day t-shirt will be available. Funds raised will go towards providing Suicide Alertness training for the community. Please email for more information or check SPIN social media for details.
  • FREE 3-hour safeTALK training – Thursday, September 7, from 5 pm -8 pm. This educational opportunity will help you to be ready to reach out to someone thinking about suicide, overcome attitudes that act as barriers to help, talk openly about suicide and identify and connect people to resources in your area. SPACE is limited; register by emailing
  • Community lunch/recognition event – Friday, September 8 at Princess Park, Brandon, from Noon- 1 pm. Tables and displays will be set up to acknowledge individuals and organizations working towards suicide prevention and life promotion in our community. You can also pick up chalk at this event.
  • Candlelight vigil – SPIN encourages people to participate in a candlelight vigil on Sunday, September 10, at 8 pm to honor loved ones who have died by suicide or been impacted by suicide. Pick up a candle and care package on September 8 at Princess Park between Noon-1 pm.

For more information on these or other regional events, please contact SPIN at 204-578-2599 or email

If you are struggling or concerned about someone else’s suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to reach out for help.

Contact the Manitoba Suicide Prevention and Support Line at 1-877-435-7170, a crisis line available 24 hours per day. A trained crisis worker will listen to you and direct you to the needed resources.

PMH Resources contact Westman Crisis Services at 204-725-4411 or 1-888-379-7699 in the Brandon Area or 1-866-332-3030 for PMH-North- Call 911 or contact a local hospital or health office.

COMING SOON:   On November 30, 2023, the 988-suicide crisis line will be available to all Canadians in English and French, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. It will offer trauma-informed and culturally appropriate services by trained crisis responders by phone or text.

Prairie Mountain Health- North Mental Wellness and Crisis Resources


Manitoba Suicide Line1-877-435-7170
Sexual Assault Crisis Line1-888-292-7565
Klinic Crisis Line1-866-367-3276
Manitoba Farm & Rural Stress Line1-888-322-3019
Manitoba Addictions Help Line1-855-662-6605
Kids Help Phone1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868
First Nations & Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line1-855-242-3310
Reason to

1 International Association for Suicide Prevention. (2023). World suicide prevention day 2023.

2 International Association for Suicide Prevention. (2023). Resources: World suicide prevention day banners.

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August 31st marks International Overdose Awareness Day

Purple chairs from around the region in 2022

This annual worldwide campaign to end overdose aims to remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

In 2022 some Prairie Mountain Health staff joined in the efforts to acknowledge and support people in their communities, raise awareness about the hidden impacts of overdose, and reduce stigma by creating purple chairs and placing them in visible locations with an explanation of their purpose. Community partners were invited to join in and bring this topic to light in our communities.

The 2023 theme for International Overdose Awareness Day is “Recognizing those people who go unseen,”: aiming to honour the people whose lives have been altered by overdose. They are the family and friends grieving the loss of a loved one, workers in healthcare and support services extending strength and compassion or spontaneous first responders who selflessly assume the role of a lifesaver.

Join us in continuing to be a part of the change. Get Involved – International Overdose Awareness Day ( has other options for getting involved, resources, and campaign materials available if you’d like to host an event in your community. Help bring awareness to the Purple Chair Campaign. Print this poster and display it in your community. If you decide to paint a purple chair or do another campaign, let us know; we would love to see all the efforts made. Email Ashley Vandepoele at and let her know about it!

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June is Men’s Health Month

During the month of June men and boys are encouraged to take charge of their health.  Get screened, eat a healthy meal, exercise, get outdoors and check in with a friend.  Use this month to set good habits in motion, and carry them throughout the year.  There are a variety of websites with resources full of everything from healthy recipes to exercise tips to mental health pod casts as well as testicular and prostate cancer checks.  Check them out.  Find what works for you and get started today. 

Canadian Men’s Health Foundation

The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation is a national, registered charity providing information, tools, and motivation for men and their families to live healthier. Canadian men are dying at an alarming rate from chronic illness and leaving their loved ones behind. Yet, 70% of men’s health problems are preventable by living healthier. No matter how you do it—walk, jog, swim, bike, or mow the lawn—any kind of movement adds up to better physical and mental health. Sign up for a ‘Guy’s guide to eating healthy‘ or listen to the Don’t change much pod cast.

Buddy Up

Buddy Up is a men’s suicide prevention communications campaign: a call to action to men, by men. We all have a role to play in men’s suicide prevention. Partners, colleagues, friends, and family. In Canada, men have a suicide rate three times higher than women. Why? We have socialized men to be strong, stoic and self-reliant; showing emotion is a sign of weakness, as is asking for help. Further, men are under served by our traditional health and social service sectors. Men are dying in alarming numbers, all around us, alone. How can we change this reality? Join the Buddy Up Campaign.


While the month of November is a little ways away, the Movember website is full of resources for guys all year long. Learn more about prostate and testicular cancer and how you can check for signs, early detection is key. Visit Family Man and discover parenting strategies designed with dads in mind. If you are feeling low or overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Discover numerous resources on where you can get support and how you can help give support if you have a bro that might be struggling.

The John Howard Society of Brandon

The John Howard Society of Brandon (153 8th street) Men’s Resource Centre is open to all and offers a safe and supportive space for men and their families to access resources and information. The center provides programs, services and individual support on issues affecting men and their families.

Programs offered include: Anger Management, Building Healthy Relationships and a Crossroads Program – focused on developing positive life skills.

Services available: Staff can help you connect to community resources, provide information and advocacy. They offer one on one support, Protection Orders, Third Party Reporting and help with Pardons and Record Suspensions. 

Drop in services: Free computer and internet access is available. Workshops focused on Legal Issues, Health and Wellness, Art and Music! 

Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba

Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba works on building meaningful relationships and provides a space where men can open up and share about their experiences. They offer a wide variety of mental health and wellness opportunities from workshops to peer-support, and One-on-One peer support. You can book a one-on-one peer support session (online/in person) with the Men’s Program Coordinator at Discover more about the peer support groups and additional men’s health resources.

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Mental Health Promotion and Prevention Programs within PMH

May 1st to 7th is Mental Health Week. This week is an initiative of CMHA and this year the theme is: My Story. Everyone experiences mental health and each person’s mental health story is unique.

This year, CMHA will focus on mental health community programs and champions, while challenging people across Canada to tell their story using the hashtags #MyStory and #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek.

CMHA has a toolkit that you can use, with virtual backgrounds and social media messaging and pictures.

Mental Health Promotion and Prevention Programs also exist within Prairie Mountain Health, facilitated by various departments including Health Promotion Community Development, Mental Health, and Dietitians.

Prairie Mountain Health has Mental Health services across the lifespan for children and youth, adults , and seniors. If you would like to make an appointment to speak to a mental health worker, call the intake line. If you are in crisis, call the crisis line for your area.

 CRISIS – SOUTH DISTRICT (formerly Brandon, Assiniboine)

  • Adult crisis line, 24/7:  1-888-379-7699
  • Youth Under 18 crisis line 24/7:  1-866-403-5459
  • Crisis Stabilization Unit:  1-855-222-6011 or 204-727-2555
  • Mobile Crisis Services: 204-725-4411

CRISIS – NORTH DISTRICT (former Parkland)

  • Adult and Youth Crisis Line, (24/7):  1-866-332-3030


  • Adult Community Mental Health Intake: 1-855-222-6011 (M-F 8:30-4:30)
  • Youth (17 and under) Community Mental Health Intake, see resources here.


  • Mental Health Intake (all ages)
    • Roblin:  204-937-2151
    • Ste. Rose du Lac:  204-447-4080
    • Swan River:  204-734-6601
    • Dauphin:  204-638-2118

Committees such as the Suicide Prevention Implementation Network (SPIN)  and the Mental Wellness and Suicide Prevention Committee (MWSPC) facilitate mental wellness and suicide prevention initiatives across the region. The Expressions Committee also is another important committee to mention and promote; it is a collaborative effort of people recovering from mental illness; people submit expressions of their art and this year a Book Sale will happen that showcases people’s art.

Across the region Community Volunteer Income Tax Programs are available that allow people to file their income tax and therefore receive various government credits and benefits. There is also a project that encourages people to file their income tax called Get Your Benefits. Poverty can have a negative impact on people’s overall health; programs such as the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program and Get Your Benefits  provide a way for people to access their income tax returns, credits, and benefits that increase their income and can therefore improve their overall well-being.

If your organization or group is planning an initiative to promote Suicide Prevention or Life Promotion and require some funding support, please see the attached forms. Each year SPIN provides funding to a maximum of $1500 for groups/organizations to offer programs or events to make Brandon and area suicide-safer, under the following categories:

  • Mental Health Promotion/Activities that build healthy, resilient communities
  • Suicide Prevention and Life Promotion Initiatives
  • Suicide Intervention or Post-Intervention Initiatives 
  • Other (specify)

Applications are being accepted until May 17th 2023

In the Prairie Mountain Health region there are many mental health organizations and initiatives that facilitate people telling their story through programming, education, and peer groups, including: the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) , Peer Connections Manitoba, Huddle , Indigenous Mental Health services, SERC,  the Buddy Up Campaign , Kids Help Phone , Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba (MDAM), Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) , and Immigration. There are many more mental health supports across our region.

Manitoba 211 is a free confidential service that can be used to help people navigate this web of community, government, and social services support. This service is not just for mental health navigation. Text/call 2-1-1 or visit

What’s going on around Prairie Mountain Health this Mental Health Week?

  • Swan River HERO Club BBQ May 5th from 11am-2pm at Extra Foods
  • Roblin HERO Club BBQ May 2 from 11:30am-1:30pm at Co-op Food Store
  • Dauphin HERO Club Fundraiser May 5th 11:30am-1:30pm, catered by Irvings Catering. Caesar salad and pudgy fries and coffee. Cost is $15/ticket.
  • Annual Clinician Workshop by SPIN and United Way (see poster image)
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Mental Health is Everyone’s Story

 “Today is where your book begins / The rest is still unwritten” – Natasha Bedingfield

Since 1951, The Canadian Mental Health Association has hosted Mental Health Week, which takes place annually during the first week in May. In 2023, Mental Health Week will take place from May 1st until the 7th, and the theme this year is “My Story.” The choice of My Story highlights the reality that we all have a mental health story that we can share, which evolves. This story is shaped by many forces, notably the emotional and practical support that we receive in our lives, which guides us, protects us, and elevates us, along with our resilience and coping tools and the resources and programs we utilize in our communities. Learn more about Mental Health Week here.

The emotional benefits of storytelling and journal writing are well documented in the scientific literature. The act of writing something out makes it more tangible; what existed as internal and hidden can be expressed, seen, heard, and with that, perhaps easier to manage or put away, if needed. We can organize our thoughts, and review our story, reflecting on our resourcefulness and fortitude. There is also the importance of sharing one’s journey with others. A story can be told in many ways, through a speech, conversation, written story, poem, painting, video, or song, to name a few. It is not just the act of telling or writing but knowing that what you share will be read or viewed by others and the hope that someone else might be inspired or helped by your story. For those on the receiving end, listening to others’ stories can also be validated in that we may be experiencing similar concerns, overcoming similar obstacles, and perhaps have similar circumstances. By witnessing someone else’s story, we also learn from their wisdom and experience. Sharing one’s mental health story is one of the most effective ways to reduce stigma (other or self) toward people who experience mental health issues. It may also remind those going through challenging times that there is light and hope.

In her research on the benefits of sharing one’s story, Dr. Sherry Hambe, Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Life Paths Research Program at the University of the South, offers the following points:     

  1. Realizing that sharing your story can help others. This can be especially powerful for people who do not always feel that they have the chance to support others on their journeys.
  2. Finding your voice. Expressing yourself and thinking about what has happened in your life in a way that makes sense. It helps to think about how the various events—even the distressing ones—have been part of a journey toward the person you want to become.
  3. Re-affirming your values and priorities. The act of expression can be a way to clarify what is important.
  4. Finding peace, finding hope. People who have shared their stories often find a sense of peace, well-being, and freedom and a way to let go of elements that hindered them, such as anger or guilt.

Despite the many benefits of storytelling, it is important to remember that your story is shared in a manner, a platform, and an audience that is safe and trustworthy. Also, share your story from your viewpoint and that you are talking about yourself. Please refrain from talking about others unless you have their permission, and even then, keep it about you.   It is also best to think about your boundaries before telling your story. There may be aspects of your story that you wish to keep private. You do not have to tell all of your stories or answer questions you do not want to answer. Finally, telling your story may be an emotional experience, and it is important to have support to lean on during and after the storytelling process.

For more information on how to tell one’s mental health story, visit the “Sharing Your Personal Story- Speaker’s Toolkit”.

Although beneficial, telling your story does not replace seeking help. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health concerns, the following services are available in the Prairie Mountain Health Region:

 CRISIS – SOUTH DISTRICT (formerly Brandon, Assiniboine)

  • Adult crisis line, 24/7:  1-888-379-7699
  • Youth Under 18 crisis line 24/7:  1-866-403-5459
  • Crisis Stabilization Unit:  1-855-222-6011 or 204-727-2555
  • Mobile Crisis Services: 204-725-4411

CRISIS – NORTH DISTRICT (former Parkland)

  • Adult and Youth Crisis Line, (24/7):  1-866-332-3030


  • Adult Community Mental Health Intake: 1-855-222-6011 (M-F 8:30-4:30)
  • Youth (17 and under) Community Mental Health Intake, see resources here.


  • Mental Health Intake (all ages)
    • Roblin:  204-937-2151
    • Ste. Rose du Lac:  204-447-4080
    • Swan River:  204-734-6601
    • Dauphin:  204-638-2118

Learn more about accessing Mental Health Services here.

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Mobile Addictions Clinic Pilot Project Underway in PMH

March 15, 2023

In partnership with Health Canada and Shared Health, Prairie Mountain Health has commenced a pilot project to further enhance access to addictions services within the health region. With the support of $897,416 from Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP), and in collaboration with local health partners and stakeholders, PMH is offering mobile Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinic days in three communities: Wuskwi Siphik (weekly) and Russell and Virden (bi-weekly).

The Mobile RAAM Clinic is a crucial step in addressing addiction, the stigma surrounding substance use disorders, and trying to eliminate barriers to access services and support. I am privileged to be a part of this program, and allow for change within Indigenous communities burdened by this epidemic. – Colton Roback, Nursing staff, Mobile RAAM Clinic – Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation

Mobile RAAM Clinics feature a staffing complement consisting of a physician, nursing staff, rehabilitation counsellors, and administration support. On clinic days, nursing staff and rehabilitation counsellors, with experience in harm reduction, will travel to the local health care clinic to provide services. A physician will be present (in-person or by virtual means) on the first day of each clinic in each community.

The team clinic approach supports ‘in-community’ services and builds capacity for local primary health-care providers to manage ongoing treatment of all substance use disorders, including the use of Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT).

The mobile clinic project is an extension of the RAAM model, first introduced to Manitoba in 2018. Service delivery is based on improving access to addiction medicine through low barrier walk-in clinics. People can visit to get help for substance use without an appointment or formal referral. There are currently six site-based clinics located in Manitoba, including one in Brandon at the 7th Street Health Access Centre.

To view the RAAM Clinic schedules within Prairie Mountain Health, visit the PMH website here.

Making a Difference in our Communities

I feel the Mobile RAAM Clinic pilot project in our community is truly a blessing!
With the assistance of PMH and the clinic staff we can help our community members to survive and possibly live a longer life. The mentoring that is being provided to our Nurse Practitioner will give her the ability to assist our members in the areas of harm reduction. She will also be able to manage ongoing treatment of the substance disorders for our clients. We are very grateful for this opportunity to help our community members in need. The PMH staff, doctors and nurses are very friendly and wonderful to work with. The community members are very grateful to have this health project in our own community.

Cynthia Munro – Health Director, Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation

As the physician on the ground for the project, I’m very glad to have the institutional backing to provide care directly to populations most affected by the stark economic realities of travelling for healthcare in rural Manitoba. I’m excited by the connections we’re forming with health-care providers in very small communities, which are increasing their ability and confidence to care for challenging and complicated patients. If we’re lucky and committed, we can create a robust integrated network of addictions care throughout the region appropriate for our geography and social circumstances.

Dr. James Rae, Mobile RAAM Clinic Physician, PMH

As someone who has worked in addictions for over eight years, I am most enjoying the medical support of the Mobile RAAM team. The mobile RAAM clinic offers an opportunity for people to reach out and receive support when they need it. There is no waiting weeks for appointments in order to start the process and people come in when ‘they’ are ready to explore or begin the process of change.
Having the opportunity to speak with a counsellor, nurse, and physician in one location on the same day helps to manage the significant transportation barriers we see in our rural communities.

Christine Little, Rehabilitation Counsellor, Mobile RAAM Clinic – Virden, Russell

Being able to reach people a little closer to home who aren’t able to get themselves to a larger center like Brandon on a regular basis due to distance. I’ve enjoyed being able to see this service expand into rural communities where services like this are nearly non-existent.

Lynsey Jensen, Nursing Staff, Mobile RAAM Clinic – Virden, Russell

In working collectively with the Mobile RAAM team, we’ve had the ability to harness our own unique knowledge and strengths, while providing a service that is fluid and supports the autonomy of each individual we work with. I continue to learn so much from my team, and am so grateful for the support I receive from each of them. We have also had the opportunities to collaborate with different agencies, which has supported our ability to increase substance use treatment education in the community, enhance service opportunities, and build opportunities to overcome barriers and bridge gaps in services for those accessing substance use treatment and care. In bridging gaps and building connections with our clients as we support them holistically in making positive, we ensure no one is lost within the gaps, providing greater access to increased levels of success for each individual. In a short time, I have already witnessed the positive changes our program has provided and look forward to the months to come as we continue to expand our program to an exceptional capacity!

Sesley Sloboda, Rehabilitation Counsellor, Mobile RAAM Clinic – Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation
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