Woman Warriors Newsletter

Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation Health Presentation

Tuesday, January 28, 2020. Myself and Dr. Paul Naude (family physician in Lloydminster focused on obstetrics and pediatrics in his medical practice) did a health presentation for MSFN community members. Nicole Reis, a reporter from MeadowLakeNOW wrote this article before our presentation: Women empower women at Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation.

On Tuesday, January 28th over one hundred community members gathered at the Makwa Sahgaiehcan community hall for a health presentation delivered by myself & Dr. Paul Naude. I spoke about the Women Warriors program & our digital health stories & Dr. Naude spoke about social determinants of health & pregnancy & drug use.

Dr. Naude has lived and worked in the community of Loon Lake since 1998 after immigrating from South Africa. He has a twenty plus year relationship with community members of Loon Lake and MSFN and owns a farm in this area. He cares deeply about this community, and wants to bring more health services & programs to this area. (This community declared a state of emergency in November after a suicide crisis). Dr. Naude is passionate about advocating for Indigenous peoples’ health and approached me to present at this community event with a speech that inspired me.

After our presentation we had a conversation about systems level change versus grassroots change and working with individuals. He gave the example of a scientist that creates vaccines that saves million versus the daily acts of compassion that can change one person’s life. We both agree that individual acts of compassion can have a huge impact on community. During his presentation he stated that we need to take care of each other. We need community care. Community care is not be confused with self-care.  

Unlike self-care, community care does not place the onus of compassion on a single individual. Community care is defined as, “People committed to leveraging their privilege to be there for one another in various ways.”

For an extensive explanation of community care please read these two articles:

It gave me incredible hope being at this event. Dr. Naude sharing this video on First Nations social determinants of health, and helping community members understand that poor health – mind, body and spirit – is not an individual failing or someone’s personal choice. There are many social determinants of Indigenous peoples’ health that contributes to health inequity. Loppie & Wien (2009) state: 

“These include circumstances and environments as well as structures, systems and institutions that influence the development and maintenance of health along a continuum from excellent to poor. The social determinants of health can be categorized as distal (e.g. historic, political, social and economic contexts), intermediate (e.g. community infrastructure, resources, systems and capacities), and proximal (e.g. health behaviours, physical and social environment)” (p.1). 

Dr. Naude repeated to me several times, “It’s so complex. The community issues, the drug use, the suicides. I don’t have the answers, but I want the community to know that I care.” 

He also spoke of not wanting to overstep his boundaries as an ally. I agree that no ally should ever go into a community and start providing solutions to the people that have daily lived experiences with the complexity. 

“Communities know what they need to heal. We need to listen to them,” states Dr. Carrie Bourassa, Scientific Director of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health – Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Please watch this recent presentation by Dr. Bourassa on “Research as Reconciliation” presented by the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council. 

Indigenous communities require the following to solve their own health issues: Self-determination. Respect. Ceremony. Trusting Spirit. Grounded in Community. Strength-based stories. 

We don’t have the answers. They do. We showed up to demonstrate that we care. 


Loppie & Wien. (2009). Health Inequalities and Social Determinants of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health. Retrieved from http://www.nccah-ccnsa.ca/docs/social%20determinates/NCCAH-loppie-Wien_report.pdf

Dr. Naude's presentation included a screening of this video below: The Social Determinants of Health from a First Nations Perspective Gwen Phillips. He also spoke about pregnancy and drug use.
Indigenous women’s health stories are complex due to their intersecting identities of race and gender, their experiences of colonialism, and social determinants of health. All of these factors can make it challenging for them to access culturally appropriate healthcare. Please watch our five digital health stories and learn more about Indigenous peoples' social determinants of health on www.womenwarriors.club.

International Women's Day 2020

Come celebrate International Women’s Day 2020 with a panel of inspiring Indigenous academics discussing matriarchy, and their personal stories of resilience. Join us in community healing amongst Elders, fellow students, and community members. 

All are welcome to attend our free event, Indigenous Feminist Panel: Infusing Matriarchy Into the Academy at the University of Calgary on Friday, March 6th from 11 am – 1 pm. 

The purpose of this panel is to share experiences within academia and stories of how Indigenous women are surviving colonial institutions with spirit intact.
Our four panel members include:

1) Elder Evelyn Good StrikerElder Co-Chair in Indigenous Maternal Child Wellness. She is a Lakota Dakota from Standing Buffalo First Nation in Saskatchewan and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. 

2) Dr. Jennifer Leason, Assistant Professor in Indigneous Peoples’ Health at the University of Calgary and a recently forwarded Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Canada Research Chair (tier II) in Indigenous Maternal Child Wellness. She is Anishinaabek member of Pine Creek Indian Band, Manitoba.

3) Dr. Karlee Fellner, Assistant Professor in Indigenous Education Counselling Psychology at the University of Calgary. She is Cree/Métis from central Alberta.

4) Eileen Clearsky, M.Ed., Assistant Professor Department of Education at Mount Royal University. She is a descendant of the Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) originally from Treaty 4 territory in Manitoba.  

Our panel moderators include:

1) Pearl Yellow Old Woman- Healy, PhD Candidate in the Community Health Sciences Program specializing in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies at the University of Calgary. She is a member of the Siksika Nation and is of both Blackfoot and Oji-Cree ancestry.

2) Ashley Cornect-Benoit, third year PhD student in the Community Health Sciences program specializing in Population and Public Health at the University of Calgary. She is Mi’kmaw, French and Irish – Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation, Port au Port Payun Aqq Payunji’j, Newfoundland Ktaqamk. 

Event Program

11:00-12:15 pm: Panel discussion with 15 min Q & A.
12:15-1:00 pm: Free lunch.
Dress Code

We encourage everyone to wear ribbon skirts. 

This event is also the grand opening of Dr. Leason’s new community engaged Indigenous research space! It is exciting to have a dedicated room at the University of Calgary that will be the site of decolonized research and community building! 

Please RSVP here by February 28th to ensure we know numbers for catering.

Indigenous business owners, Angel and Alex of INDI CITY will be on site selling their contemporary Indigenous designs including Matriarchy necklaces, and medicine floral/bloom earrings.

Please share the Eventbrite link to invite people to register: 

My Upcoming Speaking Engagements & Conferences

March 5th & 6th: University of Calgary presenting Indigenous women’s digital health stories research. Co-emcee of the International Women’s Day Indigenous Feminist Panel: Infusing Matriarchy Into the Academy.

April 14th-17th: Katimaqatigiit / Nihkhah Łatr’iljil / Ełèts’ehdèe annual gathering organized by Hotii t’seeda (NWT Spor Unit) in Inuvik, NT. This event is co-hosted by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Tłı̨chǫ Government. I was invited to attend this event because I am a recipient of the Researcher Capacity Development (RCD) Award for my digital storytelling research.

May 11th-13th: Alberta SPOR Summer Institute in Calgary, AB.

May 29th-June 12th: The Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.