Woman Warriors Newsletter

Santa the Scientist by Dr. Roshan Achal

Pictured above: August 2020. Our outdoor social gathering in Edmonton with friends (left to right): Keith King, Jordan Phillips, Roshan Achal, Stephanie Harpe, Heather Williams and Jennifer Leason.

What do two Indigenous health researchers, a physicist, a geophysicist, an Indigenous actress/singer/advocate and a settler ally have in common? They were guests at a social gathering I hosted in Edmonton this past August! We gathered in the back yard of an Airbnb house that I rented in the Bonnie Doon area to connect and share stories. Our visit resulted in an eclectic collection of stories and ideas; our commonality was our enthusiasm for our life’s work and purpose. From science to health research to entertainment and advocacy work, each of these guests inspires me to be creative. I will share how the universe conspired to bring us together for a fun-filled Saturday evening of laughs and conversation and the recent innovative and exciting projects of these guests. 

Dr. Roshan Achal & Jordan Phillips

This past July, I was invited as a panel member to discuss digital storytelling for the ComSciCon 2020 multimedia and journalism panel. I met Roshan Achal, Ph.D. Condensed Matter Physics, UAlberta at this conference. He participated in the Writer-A-Thon for graduate and doctoral students in science communication that I hosted. I reviewed his children’s science literacy book(s) and recognized their value as a mother of three school-aged daughters aged 11, 9, and 7. After a frustrating and exhausting spring of homeschooling, I understood the monumental task of educating children, especially in subject matter that is not my forte. I proclaim – with a high degree of certainty – that parents worldwide have a newfound appreciation for teachers. If I had one wish granted during this pandemic, it would have been for more fun and engaging children’s online educational resources.  

I invited Roshan and his partner, Jordan Phillps, MSc student, Geophysics, UAlberta to attend our socially distanced outdoor gathering in Edmonton to meet my friend and research mentor, Dr. Jennifer Leason. She published the children’s book, Meennunyakaa/Blueberry Patch with Theyatus Press. I intended for them to connect and share ideas about how to publish Roshan’s science literacy book(s) for children.

It was a wonderful surprise when Roshan emailed me last week to thank us for the encouragement earlier this year related to books and announce he completed his first free online children’s Christmas storybook! It explains how Santa uses science (and cookies!) to deliver all of his gifts. I encourage everyone to watch the Youtube video below and download a copy of the eBook at: https://roshanachal.com/santa/ 

Roshan is currently promoting his book and looking for opportunities to engage children in science literacy and share more about his work as a physicist through zoom presentations. If you would like to learn more please contact Roshan through email: achal@ualberta.ca or follow his journey on twitter.

Santa the Scientist: Science Literacy For Children
Learn more about Dr. Roshan Achal’s outreach project to build science literacy for children and download a copy of the eBook at: https://roshanachal.com/santa/

More Inspiring Projects

Stephanie Harpe, singer, songwriter, actor and activist. CFWE interview on Indigenous women in the 21st century. She is a member of the Fort Mckay First Nation, a survivor of domestic abuse and a former addict who never gave up on her dreams of singing, even when times were difficult. She says she is seeing a lot of leadership recognizing the need for healing in their communities. She hosted virtual Safety and Wellness Clinics this past November. If you are interested in booking Stephanie for an online gathering please email her: sharpe@iaaw.ca

Dr. Jennifer Leason (picture taken March 2020 at our International Women's Day event, UCalgary). She was recently awarded a CIHR, Canada Research Chair, TIER II, Indigenous Maternal Child Wellness. Dr. Leason is the lead researcher on the new research project funded by a Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant. It aims to better understand the cost, health outcomes and experiences of Indigenous mothers and midwives impacted by evacuation.

Morning Star Lodge Team Member

Sharing insights on Covid-19 pandemic leadership values and practices. Myself and the Hon. Premier Caroline Cochrane (August 2019).

“The most important self-reflection that I’ve committed to this year is on leadership, or the lack of leadership during the pandemic. We have witnessed a wide spectrum of leadership values and practices from around the globe. The coronavirus pandemic death toll has served as a gauge for leadership. Internationally, under the leadership of Trump, Americans suffered and hundreds of thousands of people died. The New York Times (December 16) stated the True Pandemic Toll in the U.S. Reaches 377,000. In contrast, under the responsible leadership of Jacinda Ardern, the total coronavirus deaths recorded in New Zealand is twenty-five people. Perhaps it is an unfair comparison given the population and landmass of America to New Zealand, yet the research evidence points to the fact that women-led countries are generally more successful in protecting their citizens against Covid-19.”

Please read my entire article on my Medium blog.
**If you enjoy the story please clap (sidebar of article) and join my Medium audience.**


Dec. 21st is the Winter Solstice. I lit my sacred fire this morning and I’m reflecting on how our we can live in balance, harmony and peace with one another and with Mother Earth. I appreciate how the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it many lessons about being out of balance with the land, nature and ourselves. It is my hope that 2021 brings collective responsibility for a new approach to how we live and work.

I appreciate your support this past year and I wish everyone a healthy 2021! I will continue to write my Medium blog about the Covid-19 Pandemic over the holidays so please join my audience if you would like to journey alongside me. Happy holidays everyone!