Chantal Chagnon: Indigenous support for cancer recovery

December 27, 2023

Chantal Chagnon is a Wellspring treasure; a gifted Indigenous leader who has been sharing her teachings, traditions, stories, and songs in drumming programs and workshops at Wellspring for nearly a decade.

“I view my time at Wellspring as very important work. Wellspring is an essential community, helping people build strength and resilience after a cancer diagnosis. I wish I had this incredible resource when I went through cervical cancer in my early 20s,” said Chantal.

When Chantal first began introducing her holistic approach to drumming at Wellspring back in 2014, her culturally infused sessions had a powerful and transformative effect on many who attended her classes.

“I just felt myself let go of everything,” said Mandy, a young adult cancer survivor who also encouraged her mom to join the sessions. “Drumming and soaking up all the lessons of the medicine wheel felt like a purification process that helped me overcome the all darkness and anxiety that cancer brought on.”

What Chantal didn’t anticipate, was the deeply personal shift she reaped from sharing her gifts with a cancer community.

“For the longest time I carried grief from my own cancer experience, but I had no way to express it. Coming to teach at Wellspring was my way of healing that part of myself and my life. It helped me to honour it and rise above it,” she said.

Over the years, drumming with Chantal at Wellspring has morphed into a multitude of other Indigenous inspired programs, including dream catcher workshops and family-centred story stone workshops.

“In my story stone workshop we paint rocks and share stories. I lead with some traditional stories that are geared toward families, and then others begin to share. It’s a beautiful way of connecting and building community, and it gives kids an opportunity to find ways to vocalize how they are feeling. If they are not able to vocalize – they can draw and paint how they are feeling,” said Chantal.

A Cree / Métis mother, cancer survivor, drummer, artist, singer, storyteller, and social justice advocate, Chantal has much to offer individuals and families living with cancer.

“I feel at home at Wellspring. Teaching and sharing indigenous traditions, songs, stories of our ancestors and animals; this is one of my greatest passions. In helping others heal, you heal and grow yourself,” said Chantal.

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