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Joe “Pizongwakinew”

BA, HSC, ICADC, Master’s (IP) in progress

A proud member of the Algonquin First Nations, Joe carries the Spirit name Pizongwakinew, which translates to “The Strong Voice of the Eagle.” Within his community, he belongs to the esteemed Eagle Clan. Despite residing in Toronto for an extensive 36-year period, Joe’s roots remain deeply intertwined with the Wolf Lake First Nations in Kipawa, Quebec.

A significant milestone in Joe’s journey is his upcoming 33rd year of sobriety, a transformative process he embarked upon in October 1990 to overcome struggles with alcohol. This path to healing and recovery not only shaped his personal growth but also guided his professional direction. With over 25 years dedicated to the addiction field, Joe’s commitment to assisting others in their journey towards wellness has been unwavering.

Recently, Joe achieved a long-held dream by establishing his own private practice, titled Lights of Grace Psychotherapy Inc. This endeavor signifies a culmination of his experience, expertise, and passion for supporting individuals in their pursuit of a better life. As he approaches the commencement of his third year in the Master’s program for Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy, scheduled for the coming September, he takes pride in taking another significant step in his educational journey. The attainment of the RP (Q) designation further underscores his dedication to his profession.

Joe’s career has been characterized by diverse experiences, including pivotal roles at various institutions. His contributions have extended to a Native shelter, WMS St. Joe’s Withdrawal Center, Renascent Treatment, St. Michael’s Homes (a harm reduction center), and Bellwood Health Services. An unexpected layoff in 2015 became an opportunity for reinvention, motivating him to further his education. During his undergraduate years, he immersed himself in Indigenous studies for a period of three years, solidifying his connection with his heritage.

His remarkable journey also includes his time at George Brown College, where he successfully obtained his HSC diploma, enhancing his professional qualifications. Looking forward, Joe’s ultimate aspiration is to empower and facilitate healing within Indigenous communities. By offering guidance, support, and resources, he endeavors to play a role in the positive transformation of lives, ensuring that his people can heal and thrive in a way that honors their traditions and cultures.