My evolution from a community member and podcaster to an Indigenous health researcher is apparent in my 100 plus newsletter as I embarked on my post-secondary journey in 2017. I kept writing the newsletter because it was an emotional outlet for me and a tool of advocacy and connection.
Women Warriors Newsletters
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Indigenous women experience a disproportionate rate of gendered sexualized violence as represented in the cases of Murdered and Missing Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), which the MMIWG Inquiry estimated, “thousands of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) have been lost to the Canadian genocide to date”
It has taken me a month to consider writing about Joyce Echaquan’s death because of the trauma and rage it brings up for me as a Métis woman and as an advocate for Indigenous women’s health. When I watched Joyce’s video of her last moments of life – being attacked and belittled by racist nurses – I felt despair and outrage.
My responsibility as an Indigenous writer and researcher is to be aware of how I produce and share knowledge. It is my responsibility as a Métis womxn to disrupt the hiearchy of Western knowledge and make space for Indigenous ways of knowing, relating, and doing, which also extends to online spaces.
Decolonizing Health Care: Indigenous Digital Storytelling as Pedagogical Tool for Cultural Safety in Health Care Settings
Our writing workshop centered the perspectives of Métis and Inuit Northern (Northwest Territories) writers. I defined and discussed the following concepts so the audience had a contextual understanding of Indigenous literary concepts.
Digital Storytelling: Addressing the Legacy of Indian Residential Schools & Intergenerational Healing
The original intention of this digital storytelling research was to learn about Indigenous women’s traditional knowledge and healing practices, and to help them conceptualize and communicate about their own health stories and service needs. In my ethics application, I did not mention residential schools or exploring the legacy of residential schools. Yet, every one of my co-creators wanted to talk about how residential school had impacted their families.
Indigeous Mentorship in Health Innovation (AIM-HI) Presentation with guest presenter, Barbra Horsefall. Barb is a graduate student I mentored on the methodology of Indigenous digital storytelling for her Masters’ thesis.
It was only three weeks ago that I travelled to Calgary, Alberta to attend our International Women’s Day Indigenous Feminist Panel. It feels like a lifetime ago. I watched this video in disbelief of our ability to gather over one hundred people in a room and of our light hearted laughter. This video is a reminder of our lives before COVID-19.
We are hosting this event to celebrate women, families, leaders and allies who continue to advance and improve the lives of Indigenous peoples here in Canada and around the world.
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.
Ashley was an original participant of the Women Warriors program that began June 2015 at the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre and ended March 2019 at Onion Lake Cree Nation.
Linda was a former participant of the Women Warriors Lloydminster program from 2016-2018 while she completed her education at Lakeland College. I asked her to write this column to share her Christmas card drive for MSFN youth and to share her insights about the youth suicide crisis.
News coverage and research findings of Women Warriors digital storytelling, plus two more speakers for Women in Research Conference 2020.
On Tuesday, November 12th I presented our Women Warriors Digital Health Stories and research findings to primary healthcare providers at the Government of the NWT Cultural Competency Training Pilot. One of our digital storytelling co-creators, Tanya spoke in person with the primary care providers about her experience creating her digital health story and advocating for reconciliation in healthcare.
Thursday, August 15th. Yellowknife, NT. Legacy: Indigenous Women’s Health Stories community event. The first question our digital storytelling participants answered was suggested by Maxine: What was the impact of residential school on your physical, spiritual, mental and emotional wellbeing?
Testimonials About Our Digital Health Stories Yellowknife Community Members Wish Healthcare Providers Would… Digital health stories have the potential to initiate community dialogue about issues that are concerning to the participants and the audience (Rieger, et.al. 2018). These digital health stories opened space for conversations about reconciliation in healthcare. Audience members at the Legacy event,
Stories are the lifeblood of Indigenous communities and the way that Elders pass their wisdom to future generations. To be gifted with stories is to honoured by your community and requires you to be responsible for the greater good. It also means respecting the storyteller and story enough to listen with an open heart and preparing to receive the stories.
Thank you for your support over the past three years on this journey with Women Warriors. It has been an honour to share my passion for fitness, holistic health, and improving Indigenous women’s health outcomes through Women Warriors, Eight Weeks to Healthy Living Program. It was a privilege to connect with community members in
Friday, September 27th. I presented our health stories at the AIM-HI Retreat held on Tsuutʼina Nation. The purpose of the retreat was for the funded students (I received an undergraduate student stipend for my Alberta research) to discuss their summer research projects, and to connect Indigenous students with Indigenous academic mentors. After the presentation, we had the privilege of attending a sweat hosted by Chief Lee Crowchild.
August 15th, Legacy: Indigenous Women’s Health Stories in Yellowknife, NT. Tanya Roach is one of five Indigenous women that created a digital story about her health. Her digital story is entitled, Tuq&urausiit which is an Inuit term used to address relatives, acknowledging the relationships and kinships that bind us. Tanya is originally from Kanigi&liniq (known as Rankin Inlet) which is located in the Kivalliq region (northwest coast of the Hudson’s Bay of Nunavut). She has been living in Yellowknife for the last 25 years. Her mother is Inuk and her father was Scottish. Photo credit James O’Connor Unlimited.
Thank you to all the community members of Yellowknife that attended our event, Legacy: Indigenous Women’s Health Stories last week. I’m going to share some details of our event including the agenda and background information about this research project for our Women Warriors audience.
July 23, 2019 – Yellowknife, NT – You are invited to attend the premiere of 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. This event takes place on Thursday, August
Lisa Graham is the Provincial Coordinator for Justice and Solicitor General Victim Services, Government of Alberta. She is tasked with identifying and filling the gaps in services for families who are suffering through having a loved one who is missing, including making services available in a culturally safe way to all.
I’m taking a break from my rigorous and jam packed study schedule, however, I managed to take four days off to visit Calgary and attend Dr. Carrie Bourassa’s lecture at the downtown University of Calgary campus.
Many of us have it within our power to make changes – even when we don’t realize we have that power.
For starters, we can lobby universities, health care providers, social agencies and hospitals to invite Indigenous researchers, policy advisors, decision-makers and knowledge into health care education and management.
If you watch television, you’ve probably seen ads about the symptoms of a stroke and how to minimize the damage. The most important thing is to get help as quickly as possible. But, if you’re Indigenous in Canada, that help may not come in time.
Last Tuesday, October 16th Dr. Sonja Wicklum and I went to Onion Lake early so that I could instruct Vera Cardinal on how to urban pole (also known as Nordic Walking). She was interested in joining the Women Warriors program, but due to time constraints could not commit to every Tuesday evening. She is a busy mom of five children, ages 14, 13, 11, 9 and 1 and a soon-to-be Mom of six in February!
I often overshare my life on social media, but I do it for various reasons. It’s a great tool to have a voice and be visible in a world where indigenous women don’t really have a voice and continue to be practically invisible to society.
It has been one year since I travelled to Lloydminster to conduct ethnographic research with the Women Warriors program. I will soon defend my MA thesis based on the results of that work, which explored the dietary practices of Indigenous women in the program. While in previous newsletters I’ve been able to describe the methods, goals, and preliminary trends from this study, today I am able to offer a more complete picture of the ample learnings participants offered.
On September 13th I welcomed our new OLCN facilitator, Jaeden Carter, our program and research coordinator, Alicia Oliver, and our backup facilitator and community health representative, Lori Lewis into my home for a full day of facilitator training.
The lazy days of summer are coming to end. I’ve had a wonderful summer full of adventures with my three daughters – we spent a month in Yellowknife – and we have returned to our home in Lloydminster, Alberta. Our school start date was September 4th and this year I’ve prepared for a child in kindergarten, Grade 2, and Grade 4.
This past semester I undertook my own research project as part of my research methodologies course through the University of Athabasca. My exploratory study gathered preliminary information on smoking and cannabis behaviors, attitudes about upcoming legalization, opinions on community-driven tobacco interventions, and characteristics of the population, composed of participants from Women Warriors.
I was adopted and grew up in a settler-farming town of 1000 people in Alberta named Castor. It was strange to know that I was Metis, and I had a younger adopted sister that was treaty, and never once did we attend an Indigenous cultural event or celebration in our childhood.
Women Warriors Yellowknifer News Column. Printed May 16th, 2018 Dr. Rebecca Saah is an assistant professor in the department of Community Health at the University of Calgary. She will be in Yellowknife on June 11th to present to high schools, health professionals, and recreation leaders on cannabis legalization and youth. As cannabis legalization looms
Last week I received a last minute invite from my dad, the President of the North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA), Bill Enge to attend a two-day Indigenous law conference in Vancouver starting April 25th. It was a welcome reprieve from the eternal winter in Alberta; I live in Canada’s only border city, Lloydminster, where the news reported in mid-April a record-breaking number of cold days this winter – 167 consecutive days of minimum temperatures at or below zero degrees.
Losing weight is soul-crushing; it involves deprivation, shame, and guilt. Most weight loss programs, fads or diets require restricting calories, omitting food groups from your diet, and the sting of failure every time you step on that scale and it fails to reflect your monumental efforts of deprivation.
Last August I undertook my first social media detox and removed all my social media apps – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat and Pinterest – from my phone for two weeks while I was on family vacation with my three girls in Calgary. It was my first taste of freedom from our instant update, click bait, thumbs-up gratification life
Our third guest writer in our truth-telling series identifies as Cree-Saulteaux, and grew up in the North End of Winnipeg, with family roots in Norway House Cree Nation and Peguis First Nation.
The Canadian government responded to Indigenous peoples’ assertions of sovereignty in the region through the implementation of violent and degrading policies. The Indian Act, which was passed in 1876, is widely regarded as racist, sexist, paternernalistic and aimed at the assimilation of First Nations culture into Euro-Canadian society (Henderson 2006, RCAP 1996, Milloy 2008).
As we put the final touches on the Women Warriors facilitators manual and I prepare my slideshow to train the new facilitators in Calgary on March 16th and 17th, I am reflective of the importance of understanding how colonialism impacts Indigenous women’s health.
Tonight is a hard night to feel like Reconciliation in Canada is a possibility – that concept just got further away from being achievable. Racism just walked away from a murder conviction and yet another Indigenous youth was left murdered, dehumanized and without justice. Another name added to the list of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Men and Women in Canada, go ahead and say his name…Colton Boushie.
Yesterday, after Raymond Cormier’s acquittal of second-degree murder in the death of Tina Fontaine I watched as Native Twitter erupted: Heartbreak. Grief. Sorrow. Outrage. Anger. Frustration. Disbelief.
I posted: My heart is broken for the family of Tina Fontaine. What does it take to get justice in this country for #Indigenous peoples? Where do we go from here? I’m at a loss. #JusticeforTinaFontaine
On January 20th, 2018 I attended my first North Slave Métis Alliance (NSMA) annual general assembly. This AGA was important to me because I did not grow up with my Metis culture or with my biological family. I was adopted at birth and I found my birth father, Bill Enge, the President of the NSMA in 2006. When I met him, at the age of 26, I was given the gift of learning what it meant to be Métis.
With the theme of this weeks newsletter being reconciliation and Indigenous healing, I’d like to discuss supporting our men on their healing journeys. When I hosted our violence awareness and prevention conference, Rise Up Mighty Warrior in October 2016, the
feedback that I received from the 90 attendees, composed of mainly Indigenous women, is they want more healing resources and conferences for their men.
January is Mentoring Month and today is International Mentor Day. I asked guest writer, Helen Knott, to share her experience with mentorship. Her piece below highlights the importance of mentorship, within our Indigenous communities, and how mentors can come in the form of our family members, traditional healers, and Elders, a person that we admire in our community, or a public figure that we’ve never met.
I started my journey with Women Warriors on June 8th, 2015 at the Lloydminster Friendship Centre. I was inspired to start this group after training for a half marathon for Team Diabetes, in honour of my birth father’s type II diabetes diagnosis, and witnessing that there were few Indigenous women at the gyms that I trained.
Last week Megan, our graduate student from the University of Calgary doing her thesis on food security with the Women Warriors in Lloydminster and I attended Tamarack Institute’s “Evaluating Community Impact” workshop in Saskatoon, November 14th to 16th.
Last Friday, November 24th I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Nicole Redvers, a Metis naturopath and Elder Be’sha Blondin at the Institute of Circumpolar Health Research in Yellowknife. I had reached out to Nicole in mid-September to discuss hosting an Indigenous health symposium.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last week I was scheduled to be interviewed by Metis podcaster, Darcy Robinson, host of the Jig is Up. He sent me an interview question that set off a wave of emotions and deep thoughts on my identity as an Indigenous adoptee. We had to reschedule the interview due to his work obligations, but I’m looking forward to sharing some of my insights with him.
Like everything in life, I think it’s important to examine how we use it on a daily basis and if it’s adding value to our lives. I enjoyed my break and I’m back on social media using it to promote our program and podcast. I encourage everyone to take a digital break for mental clairity and focus.
On May 9th, 2017 I was invited by researcher, Dr. Rita Henderson to attend the University of Calgary Group for Research with Indigenous People (GRIP) forum. We presented on Rise Up Mighty Warrior: Indigenous Women and Stakeholder Engagement for Meaningful Health Promotion.
I am a parent that believes in telling my children the truth. I don’t shelter my girls from the evils of the world, and I tell them the truth as much as I deem appropriate for their age and understanding. I do not consider these painting too explicit for them. If you do not
The first time I heard a residential school survivor speak was March of 2009 in my class at the University of Alberta Native Studies 380/Women Studies 494: Challenging Racism and Stereotypes. It is a vivid memory because I was pregnant with my first child, and I had just learned at my 20-week ultrasound that I was having a girl.
Sharing my insights about reconciliation. It’s 8 am. I’m in the Lister Hall Cafeteria at the University of Alberta filling up on breakfast buffet for a full day of listening to speakers at the Writing Stick Conference. I spot Duncan McCue sitting alone at a table and I decide to sit with him. I
Every year we visit my family for a week in Yellowknife to celebrate National Aboriginal Day AKA NAD2017 (now re-named by Trudeau as National Indigenous Peoples Day), and catch up with my family, the Enge’s.
On the last week of school my seven year old daughter came home & told me what she learned about residential school in class. You can view the video I recored on my twitter feed which she stated, “the Settlers thought they were smarter so they invented residential school to teach the First Nations a lesson.”
Onion Lake is hosting their annual powwow on July 14th -16th at the Onion Lake Heritage Park. I’m excited to bring our Women Warriors researchers from the University of Calgary, Masters student, Megan and summer student, Elsy to their first powwow.
We arrived at the powwow grounds at 6:30 pm to an amazing grand entry. Onion Lake had a full house despite there being four powwows last weekend. The grand entry included Chief and Council, special guests like Federations of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Vice Chief Robert Merasty, and all the dancers.
Caroline Cochrane, MLA for the Range Lake Riding and passionate advocate for women in politics holds the following portfolios for the Government of the Northwest Territories: Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, Minister Responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, & Minister Responsible for Addressing Homelessness.
Indigenous people are an underrepresented demographic in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Deanna Burgart is an Indigenous chemical engineer, or self-proclaimed Indigeneer that believes diversity is the key to the future of STEM
On today’s episode Marcia shares the importance of language and culture revitalization, her action steps for making change in community, her understanding of reconciliation and the impacts of the TRC/calls to action, the three conditions that must exist for healing to occur and the resources for community healing.
Our next guest on the Women Warriors podcast on Monday is no stranger to controversy. Last week she posted on her Facebook about an incident that is now National News, and resulted in the Editor of Write Magazine resigning and an official apology from the Writers’ Union of Canada
Celebrating Indigenous people’s heritage, accomplishments, and beauty through the arts including photography and written word counteracts the negative stereotypes in popular media. Tenille Campbell does exactly that, and goes one step further by openly exploring the concepts of Indigenous sexuality and love.
This coming week we’ll be featured in the Lloydminster Source! I’m looking forward to growing our fan base and offering valuable insights about the Indigenous Youth Suicide Crisis with our guest, co-founder of the We Matter Campaign, Tunchai Redvers. In addition, I’m releasing our interview with founder of SheNative, Devon Fiddler.
My name is Shelley Wiart and I’m the creator of the Women Warriors podcast! I’m sharing my passion for empowering Indigenous women with you! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the iTunes version of the Women Warriors podcast! Thank you for sharing in my dream of creating a positive and inspiring community of Indigenous women that lift each other up! In