With support from private donors and the NWT SPOR PICHI network, Indigenous elders gathered in Yellowknife to discuss a plan for Indigenous healing services in the NWT. Aspects of the meeting related to planning for indigenous healing research are highlighted. 

Workshop Presenters

  1. Be’sha Blondin, Elder and Traditional Wellness Keeper, Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation
  2. Nicole Redvers, Naturopathic Doctor, Operational Lead, Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation
  3. Jim Antoine, Chair Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority
  4. Susan Chatwood, Scientific and Executive Director, Institute for Circumpolar Health Research

Objectives of the Workshop:

To identify:

  • Current status of work to establish an Aboriginal Healing Centre
  • Understanding of how we consult and work with health authority
  • Awareness of Cultural Training component
  • Understanding of Traditional Wellness
  • Role of research in Indigenous Healing services 

Key Points from the Presentations:

  • Background on the AIWF
  • Key principles of traditional healing
  • Working together is a key (Dene, Inuit, Metis, Men and Women, Elders and Youth)
  • Natural laws (environmental, spiritual, mental, emotional, physical)
  • Traditional way of life
  • Health System Research

Some things to consider for traditional healing facility and things to think about:

  • Need strong commitment to make partnerships successful
  • Partnerships will make all the difference
  • There are many supportive organizations and people
  • Need a strong foundation of values and principles to support decision making

Health and Traditional Healing:

  • Encourage everyone to consider how other social, historical and cultural issues impact health services and access (child protection, residential school, culture in healing)
  • Trust in traditional healing is greater than trust in the current health system
  • Significant opportunity for traditional healing to have greater impact in other program and policy areas
  • Indigenous people can be leaders and conveners in this area with the right support

Key Points from Discussions:

  • Trust is an important element
  • Autonomy is important
  • Humility and being humble is essential to good healing
  • Only take what you need

Problems and Challenges:

  • Budget allocations (no funding for indigenous programs)
  • Organizational and government interests are not always clear
  • Inefficiency of current system
  • Inability of current system to address indigenous healing needs

Possible Solutions:

  • Prevention and intervention are key components of the Healing Centre
  • Address the root cause not the symptoms
  • Indigenous control (leadership in health system)

Goals, targets and indicators:

  • Productive and busy lives
  • Full participation in health and life
  • Personal choice
  • Harmony with environment, social and spirit
  • People receive the best care (they walk in and they feel important, cared for, loved)
  • Less suffering and Disease

Implementing broad principles in healing:

  • Holistic (interconnectedness and social determinants)
  • World medicine (land, plants, water, air, spirit)
  • Commitment to traditional teachings is important.
  • Lifelong commitment to a healing way of life is important (lifelong learning and apprenticeship)
  • Commitment to awareness is important (more people need to know about this and its importance)
  • Natural laws
  • Foster life in all forms (plant, animal, human)
  • Hope

Potential Research Topics:

  • Socio-cultural and political barriers
  • Relevance of care
  • Fear of being misunderstood
  • Forging good relationships
  • Inconsistencies in care
  • Role of trust in healthcare

Nicole Redvers (left), Be’sha Blondin (right)

Jim Antoine (Left)

Persons Attending:

  • Nicole Redvers
  • Francois Paulette
  • Jim Antoine
  • Susan Chatwood
  • Be’sha Blondin
  • Mary Teya
  • Ernest Pokiak
  • Marie Adele Rabesca
  • Joe Rabesca
  • Violet Beaulieu
  • Florence Barnaby
  • Robert Sayine
  • Pat Martel
  • Gabriel Hardisty
  • Annie Quirke
  • Edna Elias
  • Bessie Sihtatak
  • Theresie
  • Rassi Nashailok
  • Olive Nitsizia