National Addictions Awareness Week 2017

In honor of National Addictions Awareness Week, November 12th-18th, 2017, I am sharing insights about addiction(s) from guests on the Women Warriors podcast. Each of these guests has struggled with addiction(s) and are open about their healing and recovery. Their full podcast interviews can be accessed on the podcast section of this site.

A special feature this week includes season 2 podcast guest, Juanita Lindley sharing her insights in a post about boundary setting for those in recovery (featured below).

Stephanie shares:

  • Her dark period of addiction after her mother’s murder in Edmonton.
  • How she started her healing journey and accessed professional help.
  • Her journey to sobriety.
  • Her healing resources.

Connect with Stephanie Harpe

Helen shares:

  • Her struggles with alcohol addiction.
  • How traditional treatment & ceremony helped her heal.

Connect with Helen Knott 

Patrice shares:

  • The day she decided to quit drinking alcohol.
  • Her advice on going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
  • Navigating drinking culture.

Connect with Patrice 

by Juanita Lindley BGS, CHADII 

A boundary is an affirmation to self that you are important, and that you value yourself enough to have them. Having boundaries is like drawing an invisible line – it’s the space where you end the other person begins. During childhood, boundaries are built in by the way our family responds in a situation and we may learn that it’s normal to be mistreated. When the sense of identity is not present and replaced with addictive behavior it’s likely that boundaries are not a priority.

When recovering from active addiction having boundaries is presented as easy, and as though everyone has them. The reality is that setting boundaries for the recovering addict is challenging, and our friends and family on the receiving end struggle accepting them, and there may be setbacks. We first must understand that having boundaries to say no to a substance is a much larger practice and takes time.

In my personal experience, I was fearful to set boundaries in early recovery because I did not want to appear disrespectful or self-righteous towards my family and friends. At first, setting boundaries felt like a literal battle and I was ready to fight for what I needed. It also felt like an out-of-body experience because the brain and body are experiencing rapid change during early recovery. It’s also about learning to find your voice, but more importantly your self-worth.

What does setting a boundary sound like? Identify what you need in a situation. For example, I remember when I first set the “no alcohol or drugs in my home” rule and had a group of friends drop by to drink, as was the norm prior to my shift in my mindset. I recall my fear – the way my voice quivered – when I told them no alcohol and they need to understand and respect my space. It was really hard for me to say no. I remember my honesty coming out and they were like,  “oh shit ok I am sorry, we can go.” I cried afterward because it was an emotionally charged incident and I was unsure of the response I would receive. I was proud of myself at the time because I learned at that moment I was going to change my life.

I know my experience is unique but the commonality for all us is, we have a divine right to grow and evolve in our lives. We are worthy of having the full experience that our soul has come to learn. Boundaries are a way of loving yourself enough to create the space to live the life you deserve. No one has a right to steal or impose his or her shit on you. If they do, then you are allowing it to happen. Finding balance and grace in the way those boundaries are delivered is also a form of self-respect.

Connect with Juanita
Keepin’ it Real Addictions Services Ltd.

Food Security & Needs in Lloydminster

University of Calgary Graduate Student, Megan Shares Her Preliminary Findings from Lloydminster & Onion Lake Cree Nation

Current Women Warriors, Peggy Harper (left), and Brenda Rediron-Chocan (right), both school cousellors at Eagle View Comprehensive High School, and Brenda’s daughter, Jasmine and granddaughter, Sophia. Peggy & Brenda organized and started a thrift store and food bank in Onion Lake. It’s located next to the Catholic church right by the 4 way stop.

As a graduate student from the University of Calgary’s Department of Anthropology, I have been partnering with Women Warriors over the past month and researching the nutritional realities of local Indigenous women (Cree and Metis) in Lloydminster and surrounding areas.  Women Warriors’ founder and facilitator (and the usual author of this newsletter), Shelley Wiart, has observed that certain participants experience unique barriers to balanced eating and food security which impact their success in the program. Women Warriors celebrates Indigeneity in its design which is offered free of charge to its participants. Due to the large number of Indigenous women of various ages and walks of life enrolled, it provides a fruitful context to explore the diets of participants and their needs, values, and preferences concerning food and health. I would like to acknowledge that I myself am not Indigenous and do not claim any expertise in Cree, Metis, or any other Indigenous cultures. Many thanks to the Indigenous women and local health professionals who’ve been kind enough to share their time, stories, and experiences with me thus far.

Recommendation 19 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action states that measurable goals must be set to address health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in this nation. Recommendation 20 emphasizes that off-reserve Indigenous peoples must be considered and included in these goals. Diet can be directly linked to several health conditions which disproportionately affect Indigenous communities, such as obesity and diabetes. Furthermore, Indigenous women experience disproportionate rates of gestational diabetes, which can negatively impact the health of their children. While genetic predisposition may play a role, international and domestic research suggests that factors such as income, education, and food security are central to the development and progression of Type 2 diabetes[i]. Indigenous women may face marginalization based on race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Given the foundational role Indigenous women play in their families and communities, it is clear that their opinions and experiences regarding their diet and health are worthy of exploration.

Many of the friends and acquaintances I’ve made since embarking on this project have asked “why Lloyd?”. While the TRC’s recommendations are addressed to the federal government, they must be enacted locally—not just in metropolitan centers or on reserves, but in small cities like Lloydminster, and in their surrounding areas. While the majority of participants in this research reside outside of Lloydminster (in Onion Lake or neighboring towns or villages), every one of them accesses services and institutions in the city on a regular basis. With this in mind, I will share a few preliminary findings.

Traditional/Country Foods

Almost every participant interviewed for this study thus far indicated that they access wild game (most commonly moose and deer), fresh fish, and/or wild berries throughout the year. However, there has been much variation in how often these foods are accessed. Some consume these foods upwards or three times per week during certain times of year, while others only consume them on special occasions or joint gatherings.

Several participants indicated that it is important to them to share traditional food practices with their children and/or younger generations. Explanations for this varied: some view this as an ideal and effective way to connect them to their culture, others emphasized the health values of such foods, and others still view them as an essential buffer against food insecurity. A few participants indicated that they wished they were more exposed to these traditional foods in their youth; these participants became connected to these foods and food practices later in life.

Supportive Networks and Food Sharing

Several participants in this study have young children and/or grandchildren who they are regularly responsible for preparing meals for. Furthermore, many regularly share meals with family outside of their household, such as parents, grandparents, children, and siblings. Many dine with these family members more than once a week. It has not been uncommon for participants to indicate that the foods they choose to buy, prepare, and consume are largely influenced by the preferences of these household and family members. Participants commonly indicated that they placed the dietary preferences of their families over their own (“if I made that, nobody else would eat it”, “I don’t love it but I make it because the kids like it”).

Some participants are involved in well-established food sharing networks with family, friends, and community members. These networks involve informal exchange or food items, such as baking, meat, berries, and gardened produce. Participants describe these food sharing relationships and practices as serving a variety purposes ranging from traditional to relational to necessity.

Food Security

Some participants indicated that they feel that they cannot afford to eat balanced meals due to financial limitations. Dietary restrictions, and the high cost of allergy-friendly food products may further exacerbate this. Reported coping strategies included reducing meal sizes, borrowing money or food from supportive contacts, or self-provisioning through gardening or acquiring country foods. As of yet, no participant has reported using the local food bank or soup kitchens, although participants have indicated use of the Midwest Food fresh food box program.

Ideas About Local Services/Programs

When asked what programs or services should be offered locally to improve the health and nutrition of Indigenous women, participants came up with numerous thoughtful suggestions. Several participants claimed to struggle with planning balanced meals. Many participants reported a family history of diabetes, heart disease, and struggles with weight. Some reported that either they or their parents experienced a lack of food security growing up which led to their family developing a taste for cheap, processed foods. The impact of residential schools and the poor diets they imparted on attendees was also discussed. The connection between colonial violence and health was perhaps most pronounced in these conversations. One participant claimed with frustration that “Nobody ever taught [them] how to eat healthy, and [so they] never taught [their] kids how to eat healthy”. Even participants who did not recall food security being an issue in their family suggested that they could benefit from local resources to provide them with knowledge about planning nutritious meals. Other suggestions included:

  • A program or service providing healthy groceries to expecting mothers in need throughout the duration of their pregnancies
  • Programs to promote opportunities for Indigenous women to learn to garden.
  • Free or affordable cooking classes teaching how to prepare meals with affordable ingredients.

There was a desire among participants to see such programs and services offered in the evenings, so that they are able to attend once they are finished work.

This research is still in the early stages of data collection and analysis. As it progresses, I am excited not only to continue to learn from participants about the challenges they face relating to health and nutrition, but also to hear about what supports they feel may help address these challenges. In doing so, I hope to collaborate with Indigenous knowledge holder and local service providers to create strategies that benefit participants and local Indigenous women more generally.

 [i] Hill, J., Nielsen, M., & Fox, M. H. (2013). Understanding the Social Factors That Contribute to Diabetes: A Means to Informing Health Care and Social Policies for the Chronically Ill. The Permanente Journal17(2), 67–72.

Megan has been volunteering on the weekends at the Onion Lake food bank and thrift store. They need volunteers to help make meals, distribute food, and stock the thrift store. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Brenda Rediron-Chocan at


Megan has interviewed eight participants of the Women Warriors program and local health professionals including Alicia Oliver, RD, CDE at the Onion Lake Health Centre (third from the left), and Heather Reid, RD, CDE for Lloydminster Primary Care Network (PCN) and social worker Cora Lee from the Lloydminster PCN.


Megan and I are attending Tamarack’s Evaluating Community Impact: Capturing and Making Sense of Community Outcomes workshop in Saskatoon November 14th to 16th. We are looking forward to learing practical evaluation ideas and practices.


Season 2 Finale of the Women Warriors Podcast

EP20 Patrice Mousseau on How Women Are Leading the Way in Business & Taking Risks

ReconciliACTION & Indigenous Women in Politics – Part Three

Three Female Candidates Share Their Insights From
Running In Municipal & First Nations Politics

Fostering Indigenous women leaders and building our participation in politics, and policymaking is an important form of reconciliation in Canada. According to the website Equal Voice, “the United Nations says that a critical mass of at least 30% women is needed before legislatures produce public policy representing women’s concerns and before political institutions begin to change the way they do business.”[1] Currently, “women are under-represented in leadership positions in Alberta, especially on municipal councils. In the 2013 municipal elections, Albertans elected women to 490 of 1,874 positions – an average of 26 per cent.”[2] (I could not find the exact numbers of self-identified Indigenous women holding elected positions in Alberta, but I’m certain it’s not enough). I suggest that electing more Indigenous candidates, especially the most vulnerable of our population, Indigenous women, to all levels of government, is a fundamental step to enacting reconciliation.

As I stated in the first newsletter on Indigenous Women in Politics, I believe that Indigenous women have important perspectives on collective community decision-making, gender equality via matriarchal societies, and reconciliation that are needed in Canadian democracy and policy. For the past two newsletters Indigenous female candidates shared their insights from running in Alberta municipal elections: Michelle Robinson, Calgary City Council Ward 10 and Miranda Jimmy, Edmonton City Council Ward 5. I would like to dig further into the barriers that Indigenous women encounter in politics.

First, this Facebook post from our third candidate, Dolores Pahtayken that ran for 4th Vice Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations on October 26th, highlights the financial strain that politics presents for women. Her opponent, Heather Bear won by 28 votes.

“One of the harsh realities of running in this election is that it costs a lot of money. Apparently I have to book and pay for a whole hotel of rooms for people to come vote for me, and I have to give people gas money and pay for meals and solicit major funders to pay for my meeting rooms for two days.

All taken into consideration that I am a single mother of 4 children, a university student whom I have to subsidize, as well as nurture and feed my other 3 children, as well as my own community. So I have to borrow money to run and win this election? And take money from any organization of funders meaning they will expect some kind of special considerations if I win the election? Totally against my beliefs!

What happened to intent and purpose of this organization? It’s very disheartening to myself because I only have the heartfelt desire to take care of our exceptional needs people (special needs), our Elders, and children. I have no money to buy for anyone’s votes. What I have to offer is me – my passion and desire to make a difference.”

I asked both Miranda and Michelle their campaign costs and Miranda replied, “a winning Councillor campaign in Edmonton is about $80,000. I spent about $35,000,” and Michelle replied “I’ve seen campaigns in the tens of thousands. I’m not sure yet my costs but it wasn’t that much and I would be surprised if it were over $5000.”

In this Globe and Mail article, “Women should get more financial support to get into politics, minister says,” Patricia Hajdu, the Minister of Status of Women from November 2015 until January 2017, and now appointed as Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour states, “Politics continues to be a rich man’s game. There is no doubt that we need to look at how we support women financially to become politically active.”

For Indigenous women the barriers extend past financial pressures into systemic privilege and affluence. Miranda Jimmy stated on her blog on October 17th that:

“Despite a groundswell of support, despite months of hard work, despite the personal belief that I am the best person for the job, I didn’t win. This makes me sad and angry, not because I lost but because it has become clear to me that the political game was created for people like me not to win. The campaign has broken my belief in representative democracy and I will be mourning that loss for a long time.”

She wants to start a public discussion on the barriers for women like herself in politics and the advantages for others. She states these categories are separate but related:

  • Political Affiliations
  • Affluence Equating to Influence
  • Systemic White Privilege

Miranda connects reconciliation to her political campaign and loss by stating “I need to challenge the norms and shake the foundation of entitlement. Last fall at the Banff Forum, I had an interesting conversation with a fellow participant about having difficult conversations. Both of us had experience working on the cause of reconciliation and pushing this issue into places where it needs to be pushed. I had been referring to the need to create safe spaces for the difficult conversations – respectful spaces where people felt supported to share openly, free from criticism. In our interaction, my fellow Banffer challenged this notion and said we don’t need safe spaces we need brave spaces – spaces where people feel brave to share how they truly feel filled with people brave enough to listen and learn. This has stuck with me over the last year. Be brave, not safe.”

In relation to Miranda’s reconciliation bravery I had an interesting twitter conversation with Dr. Carrie Bourassa in which she tweeted to me “I heard a knowledge keeper speak today. He says there can be no reconciliation without truth. That really impacted me. Lots to think about.”

I tweeted back to Dr. Bourassa that “there’s a lot of courage involved in reconciliation. You can’t have truth without being uncomfortable. When I speak it I get backlash. Thick skin and purpose.” She replied, “Yes, so true. Because the Knowledge Keeper said that this means people will need to give up some of their power. So that makes people uncomfortable.”

Miranda faced some public backlash from her opponent calling her public truths a form of “sour grapes” and suggesting that she’s a sore loser. To connect all these insights together – we need to tell the truth about the systems that keep us oppressed. That is what Miranda wants to discuss and what I speak to every single day when I do my podcast and write this newsletter. We need more of these spaces and we need to be open to being uncomfortable and brave.

In conclusion, all three of these candidates lost, but they’ve done something much bigger – opened the door to uncomfortable truths – and begun the process of reconciliation in a system of oppression. Finally, I want everyone to reflect on this quote about reconciliation and politics from Tina Keeper, former Liberal MP. “We need to acknowledge that we’re all part of this country and that a First Nations leader can be just as effective as a mainstream Canadian in that role.”[3]

[1] Equal Voice. (2017). Fundamental Facts (The Facts, Ma’am: Facts about women in politics in Canada). Retrieved November 3, 2017 from
[2] Alberta Government. (October 4, 2017). Helping Indigenous and immigrant women in politics. Retrieved on November 3, 2017 from
[3] CBC News Indigenous. (December 04, 2016). Indigenous women still face resistance, but making gains in politics. Retrieved on November 3, 2017 from

Indigenous Women in Politics – Part Two

Three Female Candidates Share Their Insights From Running In Municipal & First Nations Politics

Miranda is Cree and a member of Thunderchild First Nation in Treaty Six. She ran in the Edmonton muncipal election for Ward 5 on October 16, 2017. The canidate elected was Sarah Hamiliton. You can view the official election results here.

1) What was your motivation for running?
I think that public office needs to be more representative of the communities they represent. Despite having the second highest Urban Indigenous population in Canada, Edmonton in over 100 years of municipal government has never had an Indigenous woman elected to City Council.

2) Was your family political? Did you receive encouragement or mentorship from a politician? (I’m interested in knowing if female politicians are exposed to politics at a young age and what kinds of mentors you had)
No, my interest in politics is fairly recent but I did spend the last three years preparing. I have always used my energy and voice for change in the community and I see serving in public office as just an extension of that. In 2014, I participated in a mentorship program at the City of Edmonton called “Opening the Potential” where I was mentored by Mayor Don Iveson. Through this experience, I learned more about the demands on an elected official and the skills needed to do the job well.

3) What surprised you the most about campaigning?
I was surprised how engaged people really are in sharing their vision for the city. So many people were excited to be asked for their opinions on what works well and what could be improved, like they had been waiting for someone to come to their door and ask! I enjoyed every conversation, even the challenging ones that helped me hone my communication skills.

4) What are the top three needs you heard from constituents?
The need for accessible representation: residents want their elected officials to listen and be available to respond to their concerns.
Accountability and responsible stewardship of public funds: taxpayers want to know that their representative is making the best decisions with their money, stretching every dollar as much as possible.
Good public transportation options: residents want reliable, convenient transportation options in their neighbourhoods and to move around the city.

5) What advice do you have for indigenous women considering running in politics?
Make an educated decision about whether this is right for you. Consider the demands on your personal time and the commitment that is required. Talk to your contacts and networks to find out who will help you and how they will contribute if you decide to run. Prepare to take care of yourself throughout the campaign – your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs – after the election, your life will continue and you want to be well.

6) Why do you think the gender gap continues to exist in politics?
There are systemic barriers that exist for minorities and for women to fully participate and be taken seriously in the political realm. The biggest barrier is the fundraising requirements to run a successful campaign. I think that funding caps will even the playing field and allow for more diverse candidates to participate and be successful.

7) Would you run again? Or consider mentoring an indigenous candidate to run?
I’m not sure. I am still processing the learning from the campaign and the toll it has taken on my life. I am definitely open to sharing my perspectives with anyone who would be interested in learning more.

*Next week I’ll be featuring Onion Lake Band Councillor and candidate for 4th Vice Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, Dolores Pahtayken.

Dr. Karlee Fellner on Personal and Collective Medicines & Embracing Diverse Teachings – Part 1

Dr. Karlee Fellner on Personal and Collective Medicines & Embracing Diverse Teachings – Part 2

Indigenous Women in Politics

Three Female Canidates Share Their Insights From Running In Municipal & First Nations Politics

The 88th anniversary of Person’s Day took place on October 18th, and celebrates the Famous Five’s victory to include women in the legal definition of “Persons,” thereby marking women’s entry into the public and political spheres of Canada. It came to my attention that Indigenous women and “most women of colour – including Chinese women, “Hindu” or East Indian women, and Japanese women – weren’t allowed to vote at the provincial and federal level until the late 1940s. And under federal law, aboriginal women covered by the Indian Act couldn’t vote for band councils until 1951, and couldn’t vote in federal elections until 1960.”[1] First Nations under the Indian Act would lose their treaty rights and Indian status if they voted; however, when Diefenbaker became Prime Minister he “pushed the voting rights legislation through Parliament. It came into effect July 1, 1960”[2]

With that history in mind, Indigenous peoples have only held the right to vote for approximately fifty years. Furthermore, when we examine the barriers that women, especially of minority descent, encounter when running for political office, such as “stereotyping of women’s role and abilities; media imbalances in the treatment of women politicians; and a rampant sexist perception of women’s conduct and behaviour,”[3] it is a testimony to Indigenous women’s strength and perseverance when they decide to enter the political realm.

I am an ardent supporter of all women in politics, especially Indigenous women, and I’ve developed a relationship with two candidates that ran in October 16th city elections, Michelle Robinson, Calgary City Council Ward 10; Miranda Jimmy, Edmonton City Council Ward 5; and local Onion Lake Cree Nation band councillor, Dolores Pahtayken, candidate for 4th Vice Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, Saskatchewan.

I’ve asked each of them to answer the same seven questions and share their insights from campaigning so that more Indigenous women may be inspired to run in their next local election, or consider a larger role in provincial and federal politics. I believe that Indigenous women have important perspectives on collective community decision-making, gender equality via matriarchal societies, and reconciliation that are needed in Canadian democracy and policy.

For the sake of brevity I will include Miranda and Dolores’ answers in a special edition newsletter early next week.

[1] CBC News, Social Issues. (February 26, 2013). Women & The Right To Vote In Canada: An Important Clarification. Retrieved on October 20, 2017 from

[2] CBC News, North. (July 1, 2010). First Nations right to vote granted 50 years ago. Retrieved on October 20, 2017 from

[3] Equal Voice. (2017). Fundamental Facts. Retrieved on October 20, 2017 from

My name is Michelle Robinson. My mother is Dene from Yellowknife and my dad is from Yorkton, Sk. While my Indian Act imposed status card says Yellowknives Dene, I am also a daughter of the Mayflower and of the American Revolution through my dad. I ran in the October 16, 2017 municipal City of Calgary election for Ward 10 councillor.

1) What was your motivation for running?

First, I love Naheed Nenshi as a kind man, educated, progressive, an overall political nerd on policy and because we have great roots within the east side of Calgary. Despite his maximum education on public policy, Harvard, being a prof at Mount Royal University and a three time elected Mayor of Calgary, he doesn’t know about Indigenous issues. At one time, he spoke of an empty Canada where there was nothing and how immigrants came and made this beautiful city and country. An Indigenous person of Blackfoot descent took him aside and explained the meeting place of Calgary prior to colonialism and now he says that in his speeches. When I met him, he didn’t know I paid taxes nor that I did not receive a free university education – he thought that was part of the deal! I have also met others, whom are lawyers, that don’t know any of these things. These may be incredible individuals on their own merit, but just don’t know what they have not been told. Indigenous peoples have a huge amount of knowledge to bring to the colonial table in a time of reconciliation. Because I have direct family that attended residential school, Sacred Heart in Ft. Providence, I feel a strong duty to continue that work of education the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action. The City of Calgary did an analysis of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and made a report, the White Goose Flying Report, which inclues recommendations for the City of Calgary to implement at the municipal level. If we didn’t push this, it would be forgotten. I asked candidates if they knew anything about this and none of them did. Now that I have lost, I will continue pushing. This education is critical if we are going to work on vital city issues like poverty, housing, harm reduction, discrimination, police carding, infrastructure and safety. Safety means a variety of things to different people. That said, not one mayoral candidate, none of the ward 10 candidates, were talking about the murder of Colton Crowshoe in my neighbourhood, the missing and murdered Indigenous women vigils I was doing in the ward or the violence against women in general. We have issues with cultural misunderstandings with more cultures in our area too. We have rampant hate and discrimination issues that need addressing. While I would love to focus on speed bumps in problematic neighbours where drag racing is occurring, I want to do everything we can to stop violence and we can’t without an intersectional lens in communities where people of colour are being targeted by police with carding.

Then there are the other things I have learned from working with police the past several years including: lack of traning for dealing with different cultures; sexual harassment issues within the force; bullying that is part of their structure. We need healthy work environments for all the police to do their jobs. I believe body cams help them for showcasing all the crap of dealing with the public in stress, as well as accountability for those that need their rights protected.

At the end of the day, I want my daughter to bike to the pool or library and the current state of the paths and road do not facilitate that safely. Having board experience has helped me prepare for running. The last ten years of working, living, and volunteering in the area gave me a great understanding of the overall issues we are facing. With two businesses we had previously, and my experience with energy, I know I am an electable candidate. It took me time to come out of my shell. I realized into the campaign, many of my own friends didn’t know many details about me, other than my human rights advocacy depending which stage of my life they met me.

2) Was your family political? Did you receive encouragement or mentorship from a politician? (I’m interested in knowing if female politicians are exposed to politics at a young age and what kinds of mentors you had).

My family is loud about their opinions but no one in my dad’s side has run for politics. I did have a friend’s mother who was a town councillor in Sylvan Lake but I didn’t know much about it at the time. I just knew my family didn’t approve of the female mayor, other than she was female. I later found out they thought the decisions to change downtown and add big business in the industrial side of the town was something they felt she was responsible for. Now I know she is one vote so I don’t understand society in general with blaming one politician when it takes a team to make decisions.

I found out later in life that my Dene family on my mother’s side was very politically active. My uncle was in the NDP, my aunt was a Liberal and later was elected in Chief and Council. The C & C undemocratically kicked my aunt out! So my family was very political. My uncle is completely out of the NDP now.

When I had my daughter, Jackie Crazybull was murdered. I felt a strong pain from knowing my daughter and I were not as safe being Indigenous. I also thought the hospital was awful at listening to their patients and imposed their regulations that when in that state, felt like a state sanctioned rape. I had to heal for over a year. I tried to lodge a complaint but it was fruitless. I tried politicians. I started to go to activist events. I started to see some of the same politicians at the event I was going to. I seen some progress depending on the subject and level of government. There is so much to say about from then to now. There now are many female politicians in my life, all have been so encouraging. I would love to mentor others now that I had that direction.

3) What surprised you most about campaigning?
How difficult it was to brag about me.

4) What are the top three needs you heard from constituents?
Many people actually don’t know what they are needing but said:
-taxes are too high
-don’t waste money on arenas
-green bins are awful

I know the stats of the needs. I know poverty is what 78% of Calgarians are most concerned about. I know the root of poverty; I know I was on the right track.

5) What advice do you have for Indigenous women considering running in politics?
Know your history, and be confident on it. Also, know your perspective is valuable, needed and no colonial school teaches what you know.

6) Why do you think the gender gap continues to exist in politics?
Colonialism is based on patriarchy. No one is changing the system to make it equal.

7) Would you run again? Or consider mentoring an indigenous candidate to run?
Yes. Everyone needs to have at least a two-term run. And as I stated before, I would love to mentor.

Helen Oro on Beading, International Fashion Shows & the Dangers of the Fashion World (iTunes Libsyn)

Helen Oro is Plains Cree from Pelican Lake First Nation and the founder of Helen Oro Designs Inc. She takes her traditional First Nation beadwork and adorns modern day accessories such as heels, sunglasses, clutch purses etc. She also produces fashion shows creating opportunities for Indigenous people aspiring to pursue careers in the fashion and model world. Internationally recognized for her designs and work, Helen aims to create a positive image for Indigenous women everywhere.

On today’s episode Helen shares:

  • How she started beading.
  • Her childhood and teenage years described as the “dark ages.”
  • How motherhood changed her life.
  • Her first piece of beading and following her passion.
  • How beading helps her focus as an adult with ADHD.
  • The starting point of joining beading and fashion shows.
  • Her international travel experiences for fashion shows.
  • Australia and Canada exchange fashion shows.
  • London Fashion show and protesting #NoDAPL.
  • Producing fashion show and working with First Nations youth.
  • Dangers of the fashion world – fake model calls.
  • Latest projects – MMIW Fashion Show in BC and Western Canada Fashion Week in Edmonton.
  • The most challenging aspect of producing fashion shows.
  • Her feature in Flare – #HowIMadeIt

Selected Links from this Episode

Connect With Helen



Juanita Lindley on the Power of Prayer, Setting Boundaries & Rebuilding Relationships after Addiction

Juanita Lindley’s mission is to inspire those struggling in and with addiction. She is also in recovery from addiction and healing from the impacts of intergenerational trauma of the residential school era. Juanita founded her own company, Keepin’ it Real Addictions Services and offers counseling and motivational speaking. She is currently enrolled in a Masters of Education program at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC.

On today’s episode Juanita shares:

  • Her personal struggles with addiction.
  • How childhood and community trauma was intertwined with her addiction.
  • How she felt her culture hindered her sobriety at first.
  • The most important healing tool in her recovery.
  • Teaching prayer.
  • The toughest part of sobriety.
  • Reentering the social scene in recovery.
  • Setting boundaries with loved one and friends in addiction.
  • Advice for families struggling with addicts in their lives.
  • Learning our behaviors and patterns as our key to freedom.
  • Learning how to trust.
  • The unreal expectations in the current recovery model.
  • Rebuilding the relationships with her children in recovery.
  • Advice for parents to help direct their children against drugs and alcohol.
  • A how-to example for setting boundaries.
  • Speaking from your inner knowingness.

Selected Links from this Episode

Connect With Juanita



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Lloydminster Needs: Reconciliation in Media

Letter to the Editor of the Lloydminster Meridian Booster & the Lloydminster Source

The family of Jeanette Chief, a 48-year-old mother of seven, last seen leaving a Lloydminster hotel around midnight on June 2, 2007. Her body was found four days later in a slough in a rural area on the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster. A 59-year-old man from Red Deer was charged with murdering Jeanette Chief and Violet Heathen, also from Onion Lake Cree Nation.

How Can the Media Do A Better Job of Representing Indigenous Voices In This Community?

Reconciliation is about learning the truth of Canada’s history with Indigenous peoples, examining the ongoing legacy of colonialism, and acknowledging that we can do better. First, I would like to share the history of this region and tell you why we need a reconciliation column in the newspaper to better represent the Indigenous voices in our community.

Lloydminster resides on Treaty 6 Territory composed of the area of Saskatoon, Prince Albert, North Battleford, and Meadow Lake. I acknowledge that the original inhabitants of Treaty 6 include Cree, Dene, Nakota, Saulteaux, Objibwe, and Metis Peoples. I acknowledge that we are all treaty people and we are all beneficiaries of this peace and friendship treaty.

Lloydminster has a population just over 31, 000 and according to the 2011 census data, Aboriginal peoples make up around 7 percent of the city’s population, with approximately 22 percent of Aboriginal respondents identifying as First Nations, and approximately 75 percent identifying as Metis. There are 14 First Nations reserves within a 150-kilometer driving radius from Lloydminster, as well as two Metis settlements, with the reserve in closest proximity being that of Onion Lake Cree Nation.

I am writing this letter as a Metis woman and leader of an Indigenous focused program that believes our community needs reconciliation in the media for the following reasons:

  1. To create a dialogue between non-Indigenous and Indigenous community members.
  2. To educate community members on the history of this area, and learn how the legacy of colonialism is still impacting Indigenous peoples education, language, culture, health, and economic opportunities and prosperity in this region.
  3. To increase the understanding that the prosperity of Lloydminster is linked to the First Nation reserves and Metis settlements surrounding us. The upcoming Indigenous business developments including a casino, which Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority states will provide 7 million dollars in wages, is an incentive for media to learn how to report on Indigenous issues. It’s in the media’s best interest to cater to Indigenous audiences and advertisers.

This past week the Lloydminster Meridian Booster published the article, Spreading awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women which should have contained the names of the murdered and missing Indigenous women from this area including Jarita NaistusJeanette ChiefViolet Heathen, and Daleen Bosse Muskego, instead focused on a non-indigenous outsiders perspective. I felt there was a misunderstanding of how to report on Indigenous events and I was upset for the Indigenous women that deserved to have their perspectives in this article. Also, the article should have acknowledged the grieving family members that were present at the event. Pauline Muskego, the mother of Daleen, presented with her granddaughter, a 16-year old that grew up without her mother from the age of 3. Also, the family of Jeanette Chief (pictured above) that were wearing shirts and holding signs honouring their loved one.

I suggest a good place for the media and community to start learning about reconciliation is at the Workshop: TRC Calls to Action: Our Personal and Collective Action, instructed by Annie Battiste at the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre 4602-49th Ave on October 18th from 10:00 am – 11:30 am. In addition, please talk to the Lloydminster Reconciliation Group, composed of several local organizations about how you can work together to be more inclusive of Indigenous perspectives and how you can work together to create a reconciliation column.


Shelley Wiart
Founder, Women Warriors

FYI: If you’re interested in supporting my reconciliation news column please email the editor of the Lloydminster Meridian Booster and Lloydminster Source, Taylor Weaver:
Please title your email: Lloyminster Needs Reconciliation in Media.

Resources for Implementing Reconciliation in Media

What doesn’t the media “get” about reporting on Indigenous women’s stories? What should they know about people like you, who provide interviews?

They label our Indigenous women and girls as sex workers, drug addicts, drunks. This puts it out there that our women aren’t valuable. It makes them less valued, and nobody will care about them.

The media actually makes a lot of mistakes — the ones who don’t care. You can tell who’s there for a story and who actually cares. And the media who don’t care, they’re the ones who are making the mistakes. They’re putting in the wrong names, or the wrong age or wrong something. Whereas, there’s a few that actually take the time to sit down with the family members and get it right.

An excerpt from the article, On Canadian Media Coverage of MMIWG – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.This is an interview with Stefana Fratila, a Master’s student that wrote a paper on #MMIWG and Canadian media.

“The one thing I would add is – and there’s academia on this and I’m sure it’s in your paper – but when you measure column inches, when you measure narrative frames, treatment, all that kind of stuff…there’s no question in my mind that mainstream media treats the disappearance of a white girl more –differently than they do the disappearance of a Native girl. There is no question in my mind and as far as I’m concerned there is also ample evidence that other academics have pulled together already: this is a race issue in the newsroom.”

Let’s imagine that one woman on the front of this magazine (a recently released Lloydminster publication) was murdered and dumped in a slough. Would we hold a walk to commemorate her memory and not state her name in the news story?


EP14 Chief Lady Bird on Art, Celebrating Our Bodies & Fighting Racism & Stereotypes in Tattoo Culture (iTunes, Google Play and Libsyn

Chief Lady Bird is an Anishinaabe (Potawatomi and Chippewa) artist from Rama First Nation with paternal ties to Moose Deer Point First Nation. She grew up on-reserve and is currently based in Toronto. Her work exists at the crux of her experience as an Indigenous womyn, wherein critiques of Nationalism and Indigenous identity reclamation meet, resulting in imagery that empowers Indigenous peoples and challenges the lens through which Indigenous people are often viewed.

On today’s episode Chief Lady Bird shares:

  • Why she prefers to be called Chief Lady Bird as opposed to her given name, Nancy.
  • Her journey to becoming an artist.
  • Her relationship with her spirit sister and main collaborator, Aura.
  • Reclaiming Indigenous presences in urban spaces through large-scale art projects.
  • Addressing racist and ignorant comments on her work.
  • Commentary on how her artwork – the assumption that it’s about murdered and missing Indigenous women.
  • Explanation of her beadwork glyphs art project.
  • Her thoughts on creating beautiful, sensual nude art pieces of Indigenous women’s bodies.
  • Tattoo culture and stereotypes/racism of Indigenous women.
  • Reclaiming our traditional tattoo culture.
  • How she stays centered as an artist.

Selected Links from this Episode

Connect with Chief Lady Bird 


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Learn more about the Women Warriors Eight Weeks to Healthy Living Program. Please inquire about getting this program in your community by contacting us through the website.

Women Warriors Podcast Season 2 – Episode 12 & 13

Holding Space for Honesty, Healing & Hope.

EP12 Jean Cardinal on Vulnerability as Medicine & Supporting Men on Their Healing Journeys (iTunes, Google Play & Libsyn)  

Jean Cardinal is the co-founder of Dene Wellness Warriors, an Indigenous focused wellness business based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories that offers one-to-one counselling, wellness coaching and workshop facilitation. She is a member of the Canadian Professional Counselors Association, and she is the only Indigenous therapist recognized by Health Canada to work with Residential School Survivors and their families. Dene Wellness Warriors has recently been contracted to facilitate a New Day Program, a program for men who have used violence in their relationships, but want to change this behaviour to better their relationships with themselves, their partners, their children and their communities.

On today’s episode Jean shares:

  • Where she met her co-founder and life partner, Roy Erasmus at Rhodes Wellness College.
  • Her calling to become a professional counselor.
  • How her training as a certified life coach helps her clients reach their goals.
  • The importance of being a healthy role model for other women.
  • Engaging and connecting with her clients as a Residential School survivor.
  • Taking risks by being vulnerable and how it’s related to healing.
  • The therapeutic practices she uses in her counseling and facilitation, including traditional drumming.
  • The controversy over a New Day Program.
  • How we can support men on their healing journeys.
  • How she approaches men’s healing.
  • The feedback she’s received from communities around NWT on healing workshops.
  • “Each one, teach one” message.
  • Her self-care practices & free resources for healing.

Selected Links from this Episode

Connect with Jean

What did you learn about from this podcast?
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EP13 Carly Morton on Strengthening Intuition, Mediumship & Our Spiritual Connection (iTunes, Google Play Libsyn

Carly Morton is a First Nations psychic medium. She comes from a long maternal line of strong spirituality and heightened intuition. She shares her journey to mediumship and how we can all benefit from strengthening our intuition and learning from the people, places and situations we find ourselves in. She believes nothing is an accident and life lessons are coming to us all the time.

On today’s episode Carly shares:

  • Her childhood experiences and inclinations towards mediumship.
  • The purest times to connect with your inner knowing.
  • How to strengthen your intuition.
  • Why people ignore their intuition.
  • The importance of boundaries and intuition.
  • What lead her to develop her intuition and her stepping-stone to mediumship.
  • The common themes people ask about in readings.
  • How we know if a loved one is near.
  • How being a medium has helped her with personal healing.
  • The most challenging aspects of being a medium.
  • How to rid yourself of negative energy.
  • How being a medium impacts her family.
  • Dealing with skeptics.
  • First Nations peoples and spirituality.
  • The link between intuition, spirit and Elders.

Selected Links from this Episode

Connect with Carly

What did you learn about from this podcast?
Leave a comment on Twitter
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If you appreciate the content in this podcast please rate, review & subscribe on iTunes.

On Monday, October 2nd Dr. Sonja Wicklum, co-founder of Women Warriors & Clinical Assistant Prof., U of C, Megan, Women Warriors Master’s Student, U of C and I had a great meeting at Onion Lake with Councillor Dolores Pahtayken, Recreation Director, Gary Waskewitch and Dietitian/CDE, Alicia Oliver about moving Women Warriors to Onion Lake starting January 2018.


From L to R: Myself, Onion Lake Cree Nation Band Councillor, Dolores Pahtayken, Dr. Sonja Wicklum & Megan at our meeting on Oct. 2nd at Onion Lake Health Centre.


The past and present Women Warriors that attended the Sisters in Vigil #MMIWG walk on October 4th at Lakeland College.


The Chief family from Onion Lake that came to represent their missing loved one, Jeanette Chief. Read the most recent developments on the case (


With the Red Dress Photography Project Founder, Mufty Mathewson before she presented on why she started her project. (L to R): Myself, Trysta Cook, her son, Kenyon, and Mufty. Thanks to my friend, Trysta for supporting us by bringing her family & friends to the walk.


There were red dresses placed along our walk that the group picked up and carried back to Lakeland College.


Lakeland College’s Indigenous Student Support Specialist, Clint Chocan that helped plan the event along with instructor, Charlene Bonnar. Big thanks to them and Lakeland College for hosting the event.

Here’s my Women Warriors facebook post about Clint that recieved many likes from the community:

My favourite Cree speaker, Clint Chocan and I at the Sisters in Spirit Walk last night at Lakeland College. I won a Cree book at the Writing Stick conference and I gave it to him because he was the only person that I knew could read it! I’m grateful for his calm nature and willingness to share his culture and language. He taught Cree to small children at Onion Lake for many years before being hired at Lakeland as their Indigenous Student Support Specialist. He did a great job as emcee last night and lead us on our walk with sweetgrass. I’m really happy he’s leading the way in Reconciliation work in this community. #lakelandcollege #cree #creespeaker #reconciliation#languagerevitalization #indigenous #sisterinspirit #mmiw #mmiwg

Clint is hosting a Cree worshop at Lakeland College this month.
The workshops continue on Tuesday evenings 7-8pm (Oct 10, 17 & 24) at Lloydminster campus with Lakeland’s Indigenous Student Support specialist, Clint Chocan. Everybody is welcome to join and get a deeper understanding of Cree language and culture.

Please save the dates for these free upcoming Reconciliation events at Lakeland on Nov. 9th with Harold Johnson, author of Fire Water: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and Yours) and Dwayne Donald, Associate Professor at the University of Alberta with Elder Bob Cardinal (Enoch Cree Nation) on a presentation about Holistic Approaches to Life and Living.

Season 2 of the Women Warriors Podcast – One Episode & Bonus

Holding Space for Honesty, Healing & Hope.

As a bonus for signing up for the Women Warriors email list, you get the first two podcast episodes one day early! Please do us a favour and rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes! Please listen on our Libsyn account if you don’t have iTunes.

This second season is dedicated to Indigenous women sharing their healing stories. When I consulted my Elder about the theme of healing she told me to be careful about my language and be clear on what I offer. I am having conversations with Indigenous women about their work in healing and their personal stories. I do not offer Elders teachings or spiritual healings. I am abstaining from talking about any specific Indigenous teachings or ceremonies. If you have specific questions about spiritual healing please follow the protocol for Elders in your area and ask them.

My hope for you after listening to the show is that you feel less alone, and that you feel inspired to take action to help yourself and others through the personal stories and resources shared. My vision is to use this community to propel each other to success so that we have more Women Warriors in positions of power – in boardrooms, business, banking, universities, health care and politics.

EP11 Dr. Carrie Bourassa on Serving Community, How Racism Impacts Health & Cultural Safety (iTunesLibsyn, Google Play)

Dr. Carrie Bourassa is a Chair in Northern & Indigenous Health and Senior Scientist at Health Sciences North Research Institute in Sudbury (HSNRI), Ontario and the Scientific Director of the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health (IAPH) at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She is Métis, belonging to the Regina Riel Métis Council #34. Dr. Bourassa is the first woman to be appointed as the Scientific Director of IAPH and shares how her perspective as a Metis woman guides her in this role.

On today’s episode Carrie shares:

  • Her academic journey from undergrad to Ph.D.
  • Her path to becoming a researcher.
  • The realization that her purpose was to serve community.
  • A snapshot of Indigenous health research over 15 years.
  • The importance of humility as an Indigenous researcher.
  • Being guided as a Metis woman in the position of Scientific Director of the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health.
  • Living well with lupus.
  • How racism impacts health.
  • Importance of cultural safety in the healthcare system.

Selected Links from this Episode

Connect with Carrie



What did you learn about from this podcast? 

Let us know via Twitter! Or leave a comment on our Youtube Channel

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Special Episode: What is Women Warriors with Co-founder, Dr. Sonja Wicklum (iTunes, Google Play or Libsyn)

Dr. Sonja Wicklum is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Calgary. She has extensive experience in rural family medicine, preventive health, nutrition education, and obesity management. She is the co-founder of Women Warriors, and is passionate about preventing illness and contributing to a great Canadian healthcare system.

On today’s episode Sonja shares:

  • Why we started the Women Warriors program.
  • Her experience creating Indigenous based wellness programming.
  • Creating the Canadian Aboriginal Nutrition Deck (CANdeck).
  • Her role in obesity medicine.
  • Her top three obesity myths.
  • Explanation of weight bias.
  • Why Indigenous peoples have a higher rate of type II diabetes.
  • Her advice as a family medicine doctor to help Indigenous patients work better with their doctors.
  • Long-term vision for Women Warriors.

Selected Links from this Episode

Connect with Sonja 

What did you learn about from this podcast?
Leave a comment on Twitter
Or leave a comment on our Youtube Channel here!
Please join our Facebook page or Instagram

The Reconciliation Speakers Series, hosted by Lakeland College is now taking place October and November. Please check out the details on the poster and save the dates. All of these events are free and open to the public.

On October 4th the Native Women’s Association of Canada honours the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) by encouraging community vigils.

The website states:

“A vigil can take many forms, from a moment of silence, to a rally, to a community feast. All that is important is that you take some time on or around October 4th to mark the day. These gatherings serve to raise awareness and to provide support to families who have lost a loved one.”

For the first Women Warriors class of the new session I’ve asked all past and present Warriors to attend the MMIW Walk on Wednesday, October 4th at 7 pm at Lakeland College. We will meet in the cafeteria for speakers and a presentation by Mufty Matheson, founder of the Red Dress Photography Project based in Edmonton. I met Mufty at the Edmonton Public Library Forward Thinking Speaker Series – Reconciliation with Chief Wilton Littlechild and Dr. Marie Wilson in February.  I’m happy she’s making time to travel to Lloydminster. Please watch this CBC Indigenous interview with Mufty as she tells her story of how she started this powerful project.

I shared in the last newsletter that our community has been impacted by the murder of two women from Onion Lake Cree Nation. On September 8, 2017, the Edmonton Journal reported, Red Deer man admits separate killings of two Onion Lake Cree Nation women:

“Family members of Jeanette Marie Chief and Violet Heathen sat in an Edmonton courtroom and wiped away tears as violent details of their loved ones’ deaths were revealed after Gordon Alfred Rogers, 60, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. Both women were from Onion Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan near the border with Alberta, and both first encountered Rogers at the Alberta Hotel in Lloydminster, according to an agreed statement of facts.”

We will be meeting in Onion Lake on Monday, October 2nd to discuss moving the program January 2018. Dr. Wicklum will be in attendance at the pre-program talk at 7 pm on the 2nd. On the 10th Primary Care Registered Dietican, Heather will present. On the 16th meditation instructor, Malcolm will teach beginner mediation.

Dr. Wicklum will be presenting Women Warriors at Building on Our Roots: Indigenous Health Practice & Research in Hamiliton, ON on October 17 & 18.

The conference description states:
This is an opportunity to learn from Indigenous Health Practice (Including the Social Determinants of Health) and to learn about contemporary Indigenous Health Research in Canada. This is an opportunity for Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Peoples to come together, and to learn together in the spirit of reconciliation.


Program Expansion to Onion Lake Cree Nation

Our tentative plans to move the Women Warriors Program & Research January 2018

Onion Lake Energy Boardroom, Friday, September 22.

Last Friday myself, Onion Lake band councilor, Dolores Pahtayken, our Master’s student from the University of Calgary, Megan, Women Warrior participant, Ashley, Elder from the Ekweskeet Healing Lodge, Verna Buffalo Calf and gardening expert, Tracey Lepp met to discuss research and tentative plans to move the program on reserve.

Meagan has received ethics approval from the University of Calgary to start her research on food insecurity and informal systems of accessing food starting on October 2nd at the pre-program Medicine Wheel Talk. She will be moving to Lloydminster for the 8 Weeks to Healthy Living Program and has a mixed method research plan including participant observation, baseline interviews, personal stories, supportive network mapping, and interviews with local dieticians.

I’ve warned Megan she’ll be sore, and perhaps the most in-shape Master’s student at the U of C. We’re going to take her health measurements including blood pressure, waist circumference and weight, and she’s discussed making it part of her thesis – a before and after comparison of her health after completing the program. I think it’s a good idea, but I also want to add that Megan’s barriers to healthy living are not equivalent to our participants. (Following are some explicit stories, please refrain from reading if you are sensitive).

To contextualize this observation, I want to share a conversation I had with the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre’s new receptionist, Hermaline. She asked if there was room in the program and I had to put her on the waiting list. I asked her where she’s from – what every Indigenous person asks when we meet – and she stated she’ s a member of Little Pine First Nation. It’s approximately an hour east of Lloydminster on Highway 16, and located 18 minutes from Poundmaker First Nation. I stated I knew about Little Pine First Nation through tragic circumstances; last October, two days before Rise Up Mighty Warrior (our violence awareness and prevention conference) there was a fatal shooting, the victim Tami Frank was murdered by what family describes as a “crazy ex-boyfriend” with a history of harassment and intimidation. It resulted in a manhunt and as this CBC article, Woman dead, sister wounded in Little Pine First Nation shooting that led to BC manhunt states:

“The man charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder in the shooting, 40-year-old Sheldon Kyle Thunderblanket, was found dead today in an area east of Revelstoke, B.C.  He was also accused of shooting a female RCMP officer at a traffic stop near Golden, B.C., the next day. The officer is recovering in hospital.” 

Hermaline told me she used to babysit Tami when she lived on Little Pine. She was living in Edmonton, attending Grant McEwan University when she heard the news. She admitted that for three weeks after the shooting she felt unsafe. Hermaline felt the impact of violence committed against a community member, even when she was hundreds of miles away, and it manifested in her life.

I also want to share a local story of horrific violence that impacts the women in our area. On September 8, 2017, the Edmonton Journal reported, Red Deer man admits separate killings of two Onion Lake Cree Nation women:

“Family members of Jeanette Marie Chief and Violet Heathen sat in an Edmonton courtroom and wiped away tears as violent details of their loved ones’ deaths were revealed after Gordon Alfred Rogers, 60, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. Both women were from Onion Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan near the border with Alberta, and both first encountered Rogers at the Alberta Hotel in Lloydminster, according to an agreed statement of facts.”

The emotional and psychological trauma from violence is a constant in the lives of Indigenous women. It’s connected to all of us regardless of time and space, and it manifests in our bodies, regardless if the act is committed against us directly. Indigenous ways of knowing and healing teach us, we are all connected: seven generations before us, seven generations after us. A community members pain is all of our pain. On the one-year memorial of Tami’s passing, and in honor of the memory of Jeanette Chief and Violet Heathen, I ask you to say a prayer for their families.  To the past and present participants that are affected by these passing, I send you my deepest condolences.

When I first started Women Warriors I had great intentions of helping Indigenous women get healthy. Initially, I didn’t understand the deep and complex issues of colonial violence, and trauma that manifests in our bodies. I have learned that healing our mind, body, and spirit is the foundation to building good health. While I’m excited for Megan’s research on food insecurity and I’m grateful for our partners at the Univesity of Calgary, I also want to let all our participants know that we respect the cultural teachings and Indigenous ways of knowing. While Women Warriors is a physical activity program with nutrition education, we also offer a starting point on your healing journey. Meagan and I are open to including Indigenous ways of knowing and healing in the program and research.

With all these factors in mind, I’m excited to announce that there are tentative plans to move the Women Warriors program to Onion Lake Cree Nation (OLCN) starting January 2018. Our meeting on Friday was a great starting point and we have a second meeting planned for Monday, October 2nd at OLCN. I will keep you updated on developments and I’m hoping I can register the 17 people on the waiting list for next session in Onion Lake.

Rise Up Mighty Warrior (RUMW) conference, October 14, 2016. Our first speakers were Ruby Whitstone and Bernice Lewis, sisters of Violet Heathen.


RUMW speaker, Stephanie Harpe on breaking the intergenerational cycle of violence.


RUMW speaker, Marcia Mirasty on Awakening the Warrior Spirit.


Women Warrior’s photovoice exhibitor, Val Pahtayken on physical activity, safety, and health.


The Flying Dust First Nation delegates.


Community Service Providers Panel included Lloydminster Sexual Assault Centre, Victim Services, Lloydminster Interval Home & Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre.


Our energizer activity was Powfit instructed by Brandy-Lee Maxie.

Women Warriors Podcast, Season 2 on Healing 

It is fortunate that before I release the second season of the Women Warriors podcast on Monday, October 2nd, my interview with the host of the Jig is Up podcast, Darcy Robinson is being released on Tuesday, September 26th. The reason being is that I reveal the backstory of how Women Warriors came to be and how my identity as a Metis woman has helped me navigate Indigenous women’s health and contributed to the creation of the Women Warriors podcast.

I am excited to release my interviews with all the fantastic guests because I have learned at least one lesson from each interview. There is an incredible wealth of knowledge and stories of personal healing in each interview and I urge you to subscribe on iTunes or check out our website to listen.

I am releasing Dr. Carrie Bourassa’s show notes early so you can get a glimpse of what we talk about in her interview.

EP11 Dr. Carrie Bourassa on Serving Community, How Racism Impacts Health & Cultural Safety

Dr. Carrie Bourassa is a Chair in Northern & Indigenous Health and Senior Scientist at Health Sciences North Research Institute in Sudbury (HSNRI), Ontario and the Scientific Director of the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health (IAPH) at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She is Métis, belonging to the Regina Riel Métis Council #34. Dr. Bourassa is the first woman to be appointed as the Scientific Director of IAPH and shares how her perspective as a Metis woman guides her in this role.

On today’s episode Carrie shares:

  • Her academic journey from undergrad to Ph.D.
  • Her path to becoming a researcher.
  • The realization that her purpose was to serve community.
  • A snapshot of Indigenous health research over 15 years.
  • The importance of humility as an Indigenous researcher.
  • Being guided as a Metis woman in the position of Scientific Director of the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health.
  • Living well with lupus.
  • How racism impacts health.
  • Importance of cultural safety in the healthcare system.

Selected Links from this Episode

Connect with Carrie 

Please mark your calendars for Monday, October 2nd for the release date of Dr. Bourassa and Dr. Wicklum’s interviews.

Education is Power – Drawing Inspiration from Women Warriors

Woman Warrior, Linda. Graduated Lakeland College May 2017 with a degree in Business Management.

Over the course of two years, Women Warriors has welcomed Lakeland College students in our program. One student, Linda participated in Women Warriors for the full length of her degree starting November 2015 ending April 2017. Intially, Linda was shy and when I approached her about doing a Woman Warrior Wednesday profile she said no.  As I learned more about her, a single mom with four children that left her reserve of Loon Lake to pursue her education, the more I was inspired by her perseverance.

The last session she attended, March/April of 2017, I asked Linda to give a speech about her life and graduating from Lakeland as a form of empowerment for the women in our group, and as a way of processing the barriers she had overcome. (I attempted to record it, but the battery on my microphone died and there was no audio). It was a powerful speech about a mom that wanted a better life for her children, and knew that education was the only way.

On May 26th she posted on her facebook page:

What an amazing day!! In 2013 I sat at convocation and seen my classmates receiving their degrees while I got my diploma. My mindset is always “if they can do it I can do it.” Today I reached one of my goals and I truly believe if u set your mind to something you can achieve it. Education is something that no one can ever take from you and education is powerful. I encourage all my friends to set those goals and go after them whatever they may be. Trust me….. if I can do this…you can do it also.

By the end of our time together Linda agreed to do a profile.

Name: Linda Johnson-Morningchild
Age: 35

Do you have children? 4 children; Jayson (20), Janessa (16), Jayvin (9), Jayda (3).

Why you joined Women Warriors: To make new friends and learn more about the facilities in Lloydminster.

Types of physical activity you enjoy: Walking, gym classes and Yoga
Amount of time you exercise everyday or per week: 30 minutes at least everyday

How do you schedule fitness in your day? Go the gym every day or classes in the evening, usually at 7pm. At first I felt selfish for taking the time away from my day to only focus on me, but later realized how very important it is.

Name one daily practice you do to show self-love: Take a moment to be grateful for all the blessings in my life each day.

Your favorite treat or meal: Porkchops…love those porkchops!! Ripple chips get me every time!

Your philosophy on healthy living: One day a person will realize how important their mind, body, spirit and health is and they will begin to take care of them – it takes that person to change and want to better themselves. It is in everyone they just have to find that fire burning inside.

Your daily struggle: Meal planning. I sooo want to do this with my family but as a student its hard. I don’t buy as much junk food as I did before but I do slip every now and then. I want to be consistent and fuel my family with all the healthy and nutritious foods out there.

The advice you would give your younger self: Don’t sweat the small stuff. The people who are there for you in need are the ones who will always be there for you.

Words of inspiration for women trying to get healthy or more active: We all give up, it’s how you pick yourself up and keep going that counts. Doesn’t matter how many times you fall off just keep going and give it your all. Surround yourself with people who are on the same path as you because they will help you to get back on it.

The Women Warriors including Linda, my family, and working with researchers has inspired me to continue my post-secondary education and complete my last year of my Bachelor of Arts; Sociology and Gender & Women Studies. I completed my first week back after a seven-year hiatus, I was side tracked by motherhood, and it has been a struggle. I’m still interviewing for the Women Warriors podcast, organizing the last session of 8 Weeks to Healthy Living starting October 2nd and juggling family responsibilities.

With these factors in mind, the newsletter will be modified to fit my schedule. If my schedule allows it I will write a personal opinion piece, otherwise I will highlight the program and podcast.

I’ve also been inspired by my interview with Dr. Carrie Bourassa, Scientific Director of CIHR –Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health and the barriers she had to overcome during her academic journey. The full interview will be released on Oct. 2nd on our website, and iTunes.

In the meantime, please listen to the first season’s guests including:

  1. Stephanie Harpe, Actress & Singer
  2. Heather Abbey, Founder of ShopIndig & Kiowa Sage Apparel
  3. Tunchai Redvers, Co-founder of We Matter Campaign
  4. Devon Fiddler, Chief Changemaker of SheNative Goods Inc.
  5. Tenille Campbell, Photographer, Blogger, Author & Academic
  6. Karen Pheasant, Academic, Yoga Instructor & Jingle dress dancer
  7. Helen Knott, Activist, Writer & Academic
  8. Deanna Burgart, President, Indigeneer, Indigenous Engineering Inclusion Inc.
  9. Marcia Mirasty, Owner of Coroner Creek Consulting, Academic
  10. Caroline Cochrane, Politician/Minister for Government of the Northwest Territories

Please contact for comments, feedback and questions about the 8 Weeks to Healthy Living program and podcasts.

I’m looking forward to Lakeland College’s four-part Reconciliation Speakers Series starting with NHL hockey legend, Fred Sasakamoose.

Date: Wednesday, Sept. 20
Time: 7 pm
Location: Lloydminster campus gymnasium
Admission: Free and open to the public
More details available on the facebook event page.

The 8 Weeks to Healthy Living Program begins with paper work, health measurements and an overview of the progam. Dr. Wicklum plans on attending our Monday, October 2nd pre-program Medicine Wheel Talk.


I’m excited to welcome back Powfit founder and instructor, Brandy Lee Maxie for our last session. She will be instructing November 20th and 22nd. If you’re interested in hosting a class for your organization please contact me for arrangements.


Our previous yoga class, instructed by Tiff, owner of Oasis Hot Yoga Studio included a beginner’s meditation segment. This coming session we welcome meditation instructor, Malcolm Radke organizer of the Lloydminster & Area Meditation group to lead us in a 15 min introduction to meditation.


Our October/November classes include bootcamp, yoga, Zumba, War, Piyo, Pound Fit and Powfit.


Heather Reid, Registered Dietitian will be giving a presenation on behalf of the Lloydminster Primary Care Network to share the programs and services they offer. She owns the consulting business, Empower You – Nutrition, Health, Lifestyle.

Please subscribe to the Women Warriors newsletter on our website for updates about the program. This weekend I’m looking forward to meeting with our Masters student from the University of Calgary, Megan who will be consulting with Onion Lake Band Council Member, Dolores Pahtayken and former Women Warrior and Elder, Verna Buffalo Calf. Megan is studying food insecurity and informal ways to access food.