New Siksika First Nation boxing center aims to heal through exercise

“There is a lot of research on exercise and its impact on mental health and its positive impact,” said Dr Quintina Bearchief-Adolpho

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The opening of a new boxing and fitness center on Siksika First Nation marks the beginning of a journey towards a long-term goal of healing, connecting bodies and minds, and promoting well- be physical.

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After years of pandemic planning and delays, the Nation celebrated the grand opening of the new Many Guns boxing and fitness center on Saturday afternoon.

Dr Quintina Bearchief-Adolpho, clinical mental health team leader for Siksika Health Services, said the facility will serve many purposes for the community, including physical activity to promote positive mental health.

“Due to the trauma, we have a lot of addictions in our community (and) we were trying to think of ways that would help our community in the long run,” she said. “There is a lot of research on exercise and its impact on mental health and its positive impact.”

Bearchief-Adolpho said boxing in particular offers participants an opportunity to “connect the mind and the heart”.

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“(It) would allow a person to be able to understand their emotions, to be able to express their emotions,” she said. “They are able to have cognitive flexibility, their executive functioning would increase, and they would be able to solve problems that they might have been facing for a long time.”

Dr. Quintina Bearchief-Adolpho, Clinical Manager of Mental Health at Siksika Health, speaks at the grand opening of The Many Guns Boxing and Fitness Center on the Siksika Nation on Saturday, August 21, 2021.
Dr. Quintina Bearchief-Adolpho, Clinical Manager of Mental Health at Siksika Health, speaks at the grand opening of The Many Guns Boxing and Fitness Center on the Siksika Nation on Saturday, August 21, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Azin Ghaffari / Postmedia

In addition to coping with the isolation of COVID-19 over the past year and a half, community members are also grappling with recent findings of anonymous graves at former residential school sites across the country, as well as ‘to the ongoing intergenerational trauma caused by this school system.

“We hope that people can use the gym as an outlet to provide a healthier type of intervention, compared to self-medication,” she said. “We hope this will help individuals overcome some of their challenges that they face with issues related to COVID and all that surrounds (residential schools) issues.”

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One of the centre’s therapeutic physical trainers, Manny Yellow Fly, said the gym’s namesake, the late Clifford Many Guns, will serve as an inspiration to staff and clients.

“Although Clifford was a guy who influenced and promoted boxing, he was also a guy who played just about every sport, coached a lot of sports and brought a lot of good values ​​to the community,” he said. he said, adding that he hopes to use The Mindset of Many Guns in particular to have a positive effect on the youth of the Nation.

“I can integrate the boxing mentality, the values ​​and characteristics that come with boxing, like perseverance, (positive) attitudes, hard work. . . and sort of mix them together.

Therapeutic fitness trainer Manny Yellow Fly poses for a photo at The Many Guns Boxing and Fitness Center in Siksika Nation on Saturday, August 21, 2021.
Therapeutic fitness trainer Manny Yellow Fly poses for a photo at The Many Guns Boxing and Fitness Center in Siksika Nation on Saturday, August 21, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Azin Ghaffari / Postmedia

In addition to camps and other programs specifically for youth, Yellow Fly said there will also be opportunities for seniors to participate in various activities. Yoga, CrossFit and other fitness classes will be incorporated into the center in the future.

With the official opening of the center, Bearchief-Adolpho said the opportunities for healing and for community members to better manage their health, both mental and physical, are plentiful.

“If we can heal the physical self, we can find out the underlying issues, the mental health issues that are occurring. . . I have a lot of hope that this can have a positive impact in our community.

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