One Indigenous Worldview in Tackling Stress & Anxiety around COVID-19

We first met Brennan Googoo, in 2017, when at 20 years old, he applied to become one of 45 Indigenous young people to be named, Warriors of the Red Road at Sea; as part of Msit No’Kmaq: All My Relations. Selected, he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean with his peers and his gifts of patience, humour, knowledge and insight were not only helpful and motivating throughout the near 30 day voyage but cemented to the Three Things team just how awesome he was.  He brought his experience at sea on a small speaking tour that profiled Warriors the next year delivering a powerful message to encourage other Miꞌkmaq youth to take healthy and positive risks.

We were lucky enough to have him take part in an internship at our Kingston office while he helped lead a national youth gathering on Indigenous education, Raised Voices: Carriers of Hope; designed education tools for grade school classes and supported other ongoing projects. Next he became a consultant – meaning he would take on specific projects as they arose and since has done a fantastic job on each them.  Brennan has been a facilitator for Mekite’tm 2019: I Am Proud leading a group of elite Indigenous youth athletes to Peru to witness the Pam American Games, visit Machu Picchu and take part in our signature leadership development program, and was a member of team to visit Kashechewan First Nation for a youth gathering. Most recently he worked on Spirit Speakers: Our Languages, Our Future, a gathering for the Assembly of First Nations that has since been cancelled due to COVID-19. 

Having come to Kingston to prep and plan the event, after its cancellation, we were chatting about how people were feeling around COVID-19.  One of Brennan’s strengths has been his courage that is demonstrated in his openness in talking about how he is feeling: and like many of us, he was struggling with some anxiety over what was happening in the world and in particular, how it could effect his family back home.

Later today, Brennan flies home to Nova Scotia, but before he leaves we wanted to share some insight he has had in addressing the anxiety he was carrying and offer suggestions for others who might be feeling the same way.   If his writing or this video is helpful, please feel free to share with those you think need to get this powerful and insightful Warriors insight.


Today we live in a world of connection, every major population with the ability to access one another 24/7, 365.

Yes, this is an amazing accomplishment and has proved to be a beautiful thing. Yet, this is also one of the main sources of our (collective) anxieties and stress. COVID-19 has caused not only a widespread illness but also a tsunami of panic that has effectively been washing away for some, (and in fact, maybe many) any positivity we may have in our lens’, both individually and societally.

Although we are right to become hyper aware and prepare, it is essential now more than ever that we not lose sight of our positives. With that being said I would like to like to share a piece with you that I was inspired (from my First Nations perspective) to create/write following a discussion had with a mentor, which revolved around said anxiety & stress surrounding the COVID-19.

“Many little one’s roam around patiently awaiting their time to travel. Many energies inhabit this place, of all forms & natures. This place is the Star World. This place we all come from and, we all go back to.

The physical roots of trees run deep and connect all life together. The forest speaks through the trees using their roots. Just like us humans, trees too have spirit. The spiritual roots of trees dig deeper than physical roots are able,

Kloqwej Kmu’ja’qamitk (Start Forest) by Brennan Googoo

spreading across Turtle Island far & wide protecting and transferring energies.

Energy is racing under our feet at this very moment, being absorbed through our feet with every step we take. Our energy is shared through our spiritual roots to this network, sent eventually driving back up, and spilling out of each branch and every leaf. Our planet shares a deeply rooted connection with itself through the walkers of this physical world (all of us) and all living things alike. Trees not only give us life; trees share life with us.

Because trees and forests hold such significant responsibility it also means these spaces have great powers, that we as a species have yet to comprehend. This means that these spaces can sometimes bridge a gap between the physical world and spiritual (star) world. As my feet move forward, with beating vibrations through mother earth below, I know I share these steps with the star world. The calmness and tranquility you can find here can heal wounds that modern medicine cannot. Beside me walks my ancestors, my loved ones, my star people. I walk through star forests, we all do.

One day I will join these roots and return to my star people, we all will. You see, life does not end on earth, nor does it begin here. Life does not end in the star world, nor does it begin there. Life is a wheel constantly turning beyond even the concept of time, because life is energy. All of our being is a bowl of energy both positive and negative. This bowl gives life balance and meaning because it allows us to experience them in the physical world, now. Give thanks for it all because if you take one away, the other has no purpose. To be born happy, live happy, and die happy, would give happiness no meaning because you wouldn’t know otherwise.

Many little ones roam around patiently waiting to choose their time and place in star forest. Little ones shine above us and race below us. Little ones are the star people, we are star people.”

I know we are all fighting a war, both within ourselves and with others in these trying times, but we must remember; while we do not see everything with our own eyes or ears, even during war, there is happiness and positivity.

Seek out those positive affirmations, seek out those bright smiles, seek out your light in darkness, whatever that light is or may look like for you and/or your loved ones. Care for each other, but most importantly care for yourself. Do not forget that we are all in this together and, during times of crises, if you seek it out hard enough you can find many lights in the mass of darkness – Don’t ever forget them.  Keep looking to the stars.

Below are sources I used before writing this that helped me gain insight and valuable reflection, I hope they may find you well too.  Remember, if you are under 18 and are feeling overwhelmed you can always visit, call or text the Kids Help Phone to connect with someone to talk to.  They also have live online chats available and more resources around COVID-19! Visit them by clicking here!

One of the challenges that occurs when a crisis of this enormity faces the world, is mass hysteria.  With growing numbers of cases of  COVID-19, hysteria can become an overwhelming experience for people.  This article helps us understand mass hysteria, better allowing us to understand what is really happening vs what we think is happening, reducing the burden on health systems in our communities.

Handling hysteria of COVID-19

This article has great suggestions on how to address anxiety you may be experiencing, which is understandable based on the 24/7 narratives, updates, social media posts and such that are inundating us all.

Coping with COVID-19 anxiety

Likewise, this article has great suggestions that you too might find helpful!

Feeling anxious about COVID-19:

Lastly, this tool has great insight for those with preexisting mental health conditions, parents, those working on the front lines, and how to process if you are coming out of a quarantine or isolation.

Mental health and coping during COVID-19:

If, like me, you are or have experienced some anxiety or nervousness during this pandemic, remember, you are not alone.  Reach out for supports because you matter.  Learning is important and be sure you are accessing facts, not opinions.  You belong in this world with us – so please take care of you!

And remember, anytime things get too overwhelming…sometimes you just need to take a moment and smudge it all away…



View our latest blog, with Brennan and Pytor talking about self care during these challenging times.