Indigenous Women’s Health Stories

On Thursday, August 15th at 6 pm – 8 pm at Northern United Place, Yellowknife, NT we premiered five digital stories, entitled “Legacy: Indigenous Women’s Health Stories” created by Indigenous women in two locations – Onion Lake Cree Nation, on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan & Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

The five presenters were in attendance for the event including Maxine Desjarlais, a member of Frog Lake First Nations and Beatrice Harper, a member of Onion Lake Cree Nation that flew in from Lloydminster, Alberta. The other presenters were local residents including Sheryl Liske, a member of Yellowknives Dene First Nations, Dorothy Weyallon, a resident of Behchokǫ̀ and a member of the Tłı̨chǫ Nation, and Tanya Roach, a Yellowknife resident formerly from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. The emcee for the event and the principal investigator of this Indigenous health research is Shelley Wiart, a member of the North Slave Metis Alliance.

There were approximately fifty-five community member in attendance for the community meal of bannock and chili, followed by welcoming remarks by Dr. Irlbacher – Fox, Scientific Director of Hotıì ts’eeda & Lesa Semmler, Governing Council of Hotıì ts’eeda. The co-emcee of the event and community Elder, Gail Cyr shared some meaningful insights about Indigenous women’s health, and Shelley provided context for the screening of the stories by sharing the importance of storytelling and listening in Indigenous culture. The five stories: Fragmented, Broken Trust, Secrets Revealed, Living Our History, and Tuq&urausiit were followed by a moderated speakers panel with the participants, and throat singing by Inuit women, Tanya Roach & Nanasee Leblanc.

Community members were asked to provide suggestions to health care providers about reconciliation in healthcare by filling out a leaf for the “I WISH” Tree. They were asked to complete the sentence, “I wish health care providers would…” All of the knowledge generated from the digital stories, and the community screening are available in Shelley Wiart’s research paper completed for credit through Athabasca University. In addition, Shelley has submitted an article about her research to Northern Public Affairs for a special edition on Indigenous Health being released early 2020.

Credit for WGST 465 Directed Studies in Women & Gender Studies
Dr. Janelle Baker
Athabasca University
10 October 2019

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Legacy: Indigenous Women’s Health Stories, Yellowknife, NT, August 15, 2019. Photos by James O’Connor Unlimited.