Lessons learned from completing season one of the Women Warriors podcast & reflections on the Writing Stick Conference.
My Top Seven Takeaways From Season One
1) No one will make your dreams come true, but you. Invest your own money into a project that you feel deeply about. If I had waited to raise all the funds I needed to start this project I doubt it would have happened.
2) Let go of all expectations of success and do your project because it gives you deep personal satisfaction. I had an amazing time interviewing all my guests and I learned new, interesting things about every single one of them. My success is measured in the feedback from women that have thanked me for telling Indigenous stories. Yesterday a fan of the podcast wrote on my Facebook wall, “Really enjoying your podcasts, especially the two on politics. Keep up the great work!”
3) Duncan McCue, award winning journalist of CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup & CBC The National shared this advice at the Writing Stick conference, life is about relationships and reciprocity. This podcast would not exist if it wasn’t for all the amazing women that agreed to be interviewed. Sincere thanks to Stephanie Harpe, Heather Dawn, Tunchai Sarah Redvers, Devy K Fiddler, Tenille Campbell, Karen J Pheasant, Helen Knott, Deanna Burgart, Marcia Mirasty & Caroline Cochrane-Johnson. I have your best interest in my heart and I will advocate for you wherever I go. Reciprocity is central to what I do and I’ll do my best to be a good ambassador for all of you!
4) Follow your interest and don’t let a lack of credentials kill your dream. I’m not a journalist or a social media expert, but I’ve pursued podcasting because I love it, and I’ve learned along the way. I’ve also had some amazing help from my sound engineer, owner of Polarity Audio Works, Sarah Buchynski, and Jill Kelly of Red Bicycle Communications.
5) In the words of Marie Forleo, “Everything is figure-out-able.” Start by putting your dream out to the universe and it will respond with people and resources. Have an insane hunger to pursue your interests and success will meet you.
6) You are nothing without your family & support. Thank you to my family for allowing me time to dedicate to creating this podcast. Also, to all my supports at University of Calgary including Dr.Sonja Wicklum & Dr. Rita Henderson. You have inspired me with your knowledge and willingness to share. You’ve never made me feel “less than” because I don’t have a formal research background. Because of this program, and your encouragement I am enrolled at the University of Athabasca this fall to complete my last year of my Bachelor of Arts degree with hopes to continue to a Master’s.
7) Helping others is more rewarding than you can imagine. It’s been two years on June 15th that I started Women Warriors and I’ve been richly rewarded in new friends, collaborations with amazing academics, and organizations and the opportunity to improve women’s lives. I love the community that we’ve created and I hope in the near future this group and podcast is a long term and sustainable organization that inspires women across Canada.
In conclusion, dream big, ask for help, and be grateful for every step of the journey. This quote from Elizabeth Gilbert resonated with me as I finished the first season. “What’s your favorite flavor of shit sandwich?” What Manson means is that every single pursuit—no matter how wonderful and exciting and glamorous it may initially seem—comes with its own brand of shit sandwich, its own lousy side effects. As Manson writes with profound wisdom: “Everything sucks, some of the time.” You just have to decide what sort of suckage you’re willing to deal with. So the question is not so much “What are you passionate about?” The question is “What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?”
The Writing Stick Conference
The University of Alberta hosted this conference on June 8-10th to foster conversations on editing and publishing Indigenous stories and connecting writers.
From left to right: myself, Eleanor Cowan (writer), Gina Guiboche (First Nations, Inuit & Metis Program Director for Burman University & her colleague, Patsy Glatt (Assistant Professor, English).
How are we connected? The first academic I contacted when I started Women Warriors was Gina. On April 14th, 2015 she emailed:
“As you know government does like quantitative statistics. If you could supply your submission with current health statistics from local first nation and Metis community health offices and data from the 2006 Census that would be a great start. Also let them know how you intend to measure the participant progress to demonstrate how the program you are offering will measure how the ladies are making an improvement in their health. ie: heart rate, resting heart rate, blood pressure, increase in stamina and length of exercise, blood sugar measures, etc.”
Two years later and we finally met. I’m happy to announce I took her advice and I asked the diabetes nurse to help me collect blood pressure, weight, and measurements from all the participants. We have two years of health data from the program, some of it unusable because we didn’t have ethics approval for the early data, but still interesting because some of the participants are still with us and ask me for their measurements from the first day.
Writing Stick Speaker Richard Van Camp
He’s a masterful storyteller from Fort Smith, NWT and a member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation. It was my first time witnessing his artistry. I was in awe. Every word, action and vocal tone was magic. He told a story about his Aunt attending a Sundance in which there was an alien encounter with the “Sky People.” Years later on her first date with her future husband, they realized they had both been at that Sundance. They were connected through an event and fate had brought them together.
I’d like to relate Richard’s story with how I connected with my guests on the podcast.
- Stephanie Harpe – We met at the Indigenous Women’s Traditional Gathering in Cold Lake, May 2016.
- Heather Abbey – We met at the World Indigenous Business Forum in Saskatoon, August 2016
- Tunchai Redvers – We’ve never personally met, but I’ve known of her through my connections in Yellowknife.
- Devon Fiddler – We met at Lakeland College, Lloydminster at a business event, February 2016.
- Tenille Campbell – We met at the World Indigenous Business Forum in Saskatoon, August 2016.
- Karen Pheasant – We met when she hosted an event I organized called the National Day of Action – Indigenous Women: The Mind, Body, Spirit Connection and Intergenerational Healing.
- Helen Knott – We met at the Girls Action Foundation Conference in Montreal, October 2015.
- Deanna Burgart – We met at the World Indigenous Business Forum in Saskatoon, August 2016.
- Marcia Mirasty – We met at the Indigenous Women’s Traditional Gathering in Cold Lake, May 2016.
- Caroline Cochrane – We’ve never personally met, but my dad who lives in Yellowknife has been her friend and supporter for a long time -about 15 years.
National Aboriginal Day 2017
Tomorrow we’re leaving on our annual family vacation to Yellowknife to visit my dad, Bill Enge the President of the North Slave Metis Alliance. His organization hosts an annual fish fry and organizes the entertainment for National Aboriginal Days. This year APTN is hosting the largest National Aboriginal Day Celebrations across Canada and will broadcast live from Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver and Yellowknife! Learn more on their website. Look for me – I’ll be waving to you!