PHOTO: Lisa Vicaire pitching at the 2022 Ottawa Summer Solstice Festival Pow Wow Pitch.

Cultural Harmony at Algonquin Acres

July 4, 2023

Revitalizing Indigenous Traditions Through Equine Therapy and Community Engagement

Tuesday, July 4th | Founded by Lisa Vicaire in Timiskaming First Nation, Algonquin Acres stands as a testament to Indigenous entrepreneurship and the power of innovative therapeutic approaches in supporting mental health among Indigenous youth. Lisa’s approach intertwines Indigenous teachings and traditions with animal therapy, primarily using horses as a medium to boost mental resilience and self-confidence.

Lisa started Algonquin Acres 11 months ago after seeing an immense positive change it had on her daughter’s health. Lisa was inspired by the positive reactions she received when she and her family first moved back to her home community of Timiskaming and the support they had for children with special needs. She combined this support with her love of horses and now had the ability to open her farm to other Indigenous youth. 

At Algonquin Acres, the use of Indigenous traditions is evident in their everyday operations. Sage, a traditional indigenous herb, is burnt throughout the farm to create a calming atmosphere. Lisa incorporates creative therapeutic sessions into the farm’s routine. Activities range from painting on horses or canvas to quiet, introspective periods which cultivate mindfulness.

One key activity includes teaching young visitors to paint indigenous symbols and markings on horses, as their ancestors did on their war horses. These exercises not only provide a creative outlet but also instill a strong sense of cultural identity and heritage among the youth.

The response from the community towards Lisa’s efforts has been overwhelmingly positive. Community members have aided with various projects, participated in open houses, and community gatherings hosted by Algonquin Acres. The farm has successfully hosted women’s wellness events, summer camp visits, and aims to provide space for full moon ceremonies.

Lisa’s vision for Algonquin Acres continues to grow. Plans to expand the farm by using adjacent land offered by a community member are in the pipeline. This would mean more room for therapeutic sessions, nature trail rides, and expansion of their horse population. Moreover, an indoor riding arena is in the works to provide a warmer space for winter activities. Lisa also aims to increase her staff strength, bring more diversity to her team, and offer more sessions in multiple languages, furthering inclusivity.

Her main message to Indigenous youth is that you are supported and there is a wealth of information and knowledge out there waiting for you to take that chance.

Lisa’s advice to aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs is clear – believe in your dreams, take the risk, and lean on the support of your community. Lisa’s story shows us that entrepreneurship can serve as a powerful tool for cultural preservation, community development, and positive change. 

Listen to Lisa’s advice and journey on the latest episode on the Pow Wow Pitch Podcast.