Boreal Yoga

In 2016, Cross Lake First Nation declared a state of emergency. It’s young people were feeling hopeless due to the lack of resources and fun activities in their community and they saw no reason to keep living.

Diana Allen, a teacher in Cross Lake, and a Certified Yoga Instructor new to the community wanted to help. After she realized that most residents had probably never tried yoga, she decided to start teaching open classes.

Diana found a space to hold the classes and began generating interest among the residents. That’s when Lululemon and Project Echo teamed up to send 40 yoga mats, blankets, and blocks to Cross Lake to get the program started.

Since starting in 2016, Boreal Yoga has taken off. The residents are enjoying the classes, and the friendships they’re building.

To find out more about this amazing initiative, or how you can help, please email info@projectechowinnipeg.com.

Diana Allen
Diana AllenBoreal Yoga Founder

Diana’s Story

My name is Diana Allen and I live in Cross Lake, MB. Also known as Pimicikimak Cree Nation (PCN). Cross Lake is located about 500km North of Winnipeg. I’ve lived here about two and a half years.

After moving to town I started teaching at the local middle school. I noticed on evenings and weekends students (and adults) were wandering around town late into the night, seemingly, with nothing to do. I wondered why there wasn’t more out there in the way of activities for people.

A year into our time in Cross Lake tragedy struck. 

In a matter of months 6 of our youth committed suicide. The community was shattered, people were angry, hurt, confused and above all, feeling totally helpless. I became desperate, almost frantic to help my students. I forgot most of my yoga teachings and went into survival mode. If a student didn’t show up to class I was terrified. Where were they? Who were they with? Did they need my help…

In an effort to help students deal with their grief and move forward, we would spend Friday afternoons brainstorming things they could do that weekend to keep themselves occupied. We quickly realized there was not much out there for them. There was no youth centre, no community hall with activities, I wanted them to have things to do so they wouldn’t be sitting in their rooms thinking of their lost friends, feeling sad and alone. I wanted them to be supported, loved and surrounded by positivity. It was around this time that I realized there was more that I could offer.

Doing my Yoga Teacher Training had been on my “To Do List” for some time but I always convinced myself I was too busy. I knew that bringing yoga into the community could help in the healing process, give people a healthy outlet and hopefully offer some mental health benefits as well. I immediately signed up for my teacher training and took the first steps toward creating Boreal Yoga.

I shared my story and my goals with many people and was fortunate enough to make connections with Lululemon and Project Echo who have been integral in helping Boreal Yoga get off the ground, they have offered so much support and lots of logistical help. Being in the north can present some unique challenges. Like getting equipment or connecting with graphic designers when you don’t have working internet most of the time.

Boreal Yoga now offers 2 evening classes a week (free of charge) in the Community of Cross Lake and we are adding weekend workshops to our schedule soon. Almost every night we have new students joining the class. Our classes are a joyful mix of adults, youth, first responders, healthcare providers, parents and many more. We hope that each time someone comes to their mat in a Boreal class they find peace, calm, positive energy and a quiet moment for themselves.