Reconciliation Through Bridging the Indigenous Health Gap – Transcript

About This Episode

Porcupine (00:00): Nicole Redvers walked into the wrong lecture at the University of Lethbridge, and it changed her life. Now as a doctor of naturopathic medicine, Nicole works to help heal using Indigenous medicine systems and Western medicine.

Episode Introduction

Porcupine (00:18): How do porcupines hug? Very carefully and such is the story of reconciliation, at least so far.

Porcupine (00:26): I’m Merrell-Ann Phare. I’m Michael Miltenberger. This is Porcupine. So let’s introduce Dr. Nicole Redford who is a doctor of naturopathic medicine. She’s a member of the Deninu Kue First Nation, which is in the Northwest Territories. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Not only that, she’s got lots of other things that she does, which we’re going to talk to about today, including being an author and co-founder of the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation. It’s amazing that she can be with us today. Generally, she’s interested in planetary health and sustainable healthcare education, which sounds huge and super fascinating. So, welcome Dr. Redvers. 

Nicole: Thank you for having me here today.

Let’s start at the beginning…

Porcupine (01:20): You’re talking to us from the University of North Dakota, which is a long way from where you grew up in NWT. Can you just share a bit of some of your story with us about growing up in NWT and the journey that currently has you working as an Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Nicole (01:45): Thanks, Michael. It’s definitely something I never thought I would imagine—me in somewhere like North Dakota, in the country doing the work that I am. What a journey when I think back. But, I’m very pleased and humbled to be a Northern girl born and raised in the NWT as you noted. Most of my early life was spent in Fort Resolution until I started kindergarten. Then our family moved to Hay River for the majority of my schooling, and Fort Smith as well. And thankfully I had exposure to a lot of our Indigenous traditional practices. My grandparents were hunters and traditional people, and my father did quite a bit of hunting, even though he’s not originally from the North. Many of her siblings are avid fish, dry fish and dry meat eaters. And they passed on that skill very well to me.

So the education journey for myself took me to the University of Lethbridge. I thought I was going to go into sports medicine. That was my thing back then. I was quite into sports growing up, like many kids up North. There’s not a lot of other things to do. So I played sports. Figure skating and track and all sorts of sports that are thankfully still offered to our kids even today. And I ended up walking into a wrong time at the university of Lethbridge during one of those Lunch and Learn things. A school for naturopathic medicine that was there doing recruitment for the postgraduate programs they offer. 

And I sat down kind of a little bit embarrassed and just listened. And they were talking about everything that I didn’t know existed, but knew that I wanted to.

I’m still getting a Western medical education, but wanted to be able to learn about other ways of healing and knowing when it comes to health and healthcare. So the next day I switched my major and I pursued being a doctor of naturopathic medicine. I ended up in Toronto and spent quite a bit of time traveling around the world in various countries learning about different therapeutic traditions. 

I also worked with the Indigenous or remote communities in many areas of the globe who are facing a lot of the same issues we are up in the North. And one of the things I noted in the last chapter of my book—I was coming home one day and sitting in the airport in Edmonton on my way back after about six months in Africa. And there’s this old older Dene woman who has her handkerchief and her cane and her rubbers, her moccasins, and she was struggling to get up from her chair.

It looked like her knee was in a lot of pain. I went over and helped her get up and just had this epiphany, this awareness. I realized I was going all over the world, you know, trying to support and do work, but where I was really needed was my home where I wasn’t at work. So I made a very astute decision at that point to come back home to the North. I stayed in integrative medical practice for 10 years in the Northwest Territories, serving the community. 

Disparities in Canada’s healthcare system:

It led me to realize how disparate our health issues are in the North, how many disparities that we have, but always framed with the awareness that one of our main issues is not necessarily the fact that we have lower sets of health standards because of health system issues necessarily. The main fundamental piece is the structural issues within the health system that make it not a safe and trusting place for many Indigenous peoples due to the historical trauma that have existed in the territory from colonization.

And I remember being in Fort resolution in my community and seeing one of the ladies with a bent finger with a wrapping around it, and I asked her how she was doing and how her finger was. And she said, ‘Oh, you know, I think it’s broken.’ And I said, ‘Oh, well, did you go to the nursing station?’ And she said, ‘No, no, I’m not going on the nursing station. I’d rather just, you know, have my finger here, deal with it myself.’ And again, another moment of realization where people are willing to suffer and be at home rather than go and seek support. Then we still have some major issues that we need to deal with in the North end and in the rest of Canada and even the world. So that thought process kind of led to a really serendipitous gathering of all the Elders that we were connected to at that point and deciding that we needed to do something different. 

The Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation:

A few of us created the Arctic Indigenous wellness foundation, and from there on, in that Elders gathering back in 2015, we had Elders from Nunavut and from the Northwest Territories come together and give feedback and guidance on the process to create the organization.

And, through that work, I really started to realize that my place was likely better served outside of the clinical room. In the clinical room is important, but usually you can only make a difference one-on-one with people. Our issues were much broader, were much more structural. And that kind of, um, increased my interest in looking at more academic scholarship research.

Health-based Reconciliation:

Porcupine (07:23): So Nicole let’s sort of unpack a bit of this just quickly. So you just recently published a book, The Science of the Sacred Bridging Global Indigenous Medicine Systems and Modern Scientific Principles, which to me sounds almost like a health-based reconciliation process and project. You’ve elaborated on it somewhat already, but could you speak to your global travels and the planetary look you’ve taken it at this issue?

Nicole (07:51): Hmm. Yeah, it was an interesting journey. I have never done any writing like this before. There was something driving me to put this book together. You know, I still can’t explain it today, other than there was some sort of purpose to do that. And I’m trying to grapple with the difficulties I had previously talked about with different ways of knowing and looking at the world between Indigenous worldviews and Western worldviews generally, but also particularly in the health sciences and then in practice. So I was trying to find a way to not necessarily explain, but tell the story and be able to provide information about Indigenous ways of knowing when it comes to health and healing in a way that’s understandable for Western health care providers and researchers without compromising the sacredness and the traditional protocols that need to be in place for talking about such things.

So the book could be said as a bridge in terms of the title. How do we have that conversation about very different ways of knowing, to be able to progress our societies forward? Given the crises that we’re in, climate change and a global pandemic, which was, and is very clearly known to be as a result of global environmental changes that humans have been precipitating…we’re so interconnected to all of these levels of being, that it’s impossible to parse out little pieces and bits here and there without taking that very overarching planetary viewpoint. 

Explaining Planetary Health:

So the term planetary health has been deemed from the English language very recently, just in the mid two thousands. But Indigenous people have had concepts of planetary health for thousands of years that have been minimized even in international climate change discourse. Although we are seeing some changes to that in the last few years as our crisis grows. There’s more acknowledgement on the importance of traditional knowledge in that way. And I do believe that healthcare providers and health systems have a responsibility in that because they are going to be the ones that are caring for the increases in the disease processes and changes that humans are going to have as a result of the continued man-made adjustments to our product.

Porcupine (10:13): So, Nicole, what you’re talking about here, seems very far removed from Western scientific medical kinds of principles. And is that why you chose to be a doctor of natural empathy rather than the Western typical medical path? Is there more of a resonance between that form of medicine and Indigenous knowledge and healing systems? Or what resonated with you in particular about that doctor of neuropathy?

Nicole (10:46): The naturopathic medical programs have been in existence for decades within North America, but one of the sticking points that I and a few of the other Indigenous naturopathic doctors have is the somewhat lack of recognition in Canada and the United States of where a lot of the natural supportive therapies derived from, which was often Indigenous medicine systems from around the world. So despite that issue, the approach is really fundamentally more holistic. But also about root causes, which is how our traditional medicine systems operate—more guidance as opposed to solutions-driven, focusing more on healing as opposed to attempting to cure diseases that sometimes are very difficult to [cure]. So the resonance of having conceptualizations from various medicine traditions around the world was definitely the impetus set. There is a complete lack of that within Western medical training. I exist in a medical school now.  I’m very aware of the medical curriculum and how it works.

And there’s a disconnect happening between what we’re teaching our medical students and how to actually help people with conditions that are not so easily treated. 

For example, depression and anxiety. There’s no pill that will cure that condition. It often requires a much more holistic input, but more importantly for Indigenous Peoples. So I didn’t see our Indigenous representations of health and wellness represented within medical schools. At least at the time that I was going in there had been some positive changes, thankfully, in the last few years. But there’s still a lot more work to do in that space.

Porcupine (12:32): And right now you are actually an assistant prof in, as you said, a school of medicine in the University of North Dakota. So explain what you’re doing there and how you’re able to integrate the things that you care about into what from the outside would seem to be a pretty normal medical school. But you’re doing some very different stuff.

Nicole (12:52): Yeah. I’m very pleased and humbled to be a part of the development of the very first PhD in Indigenous health program that was formerly launched at the university of North Dakota in the summer of this year 2020. We’ve just gotten our first cohort of 19 Indigenous health PhD students that have started the program.

Porcupine (13:14): Oh my goodness. Congratulations. By the way, sorry to interrupt you. But that is just mind blowing that there’s 19 Indigenous students in a PhD program in medical. Yeah. Amazing.

Nicole (13:25): It is amazing. It’s one of the only times that we’ve ever had a dominance of Indigenous students in a graduate level class program. But being represented by so many Indigenous nations from across Turtle Mountain and Turtle Island has been very powerful. Turtle Mountain is actually one of the tribal reservations here. The master’s of public health program also has an Indigenous health specialization that we also participate in. 

So, it’s 2020, and it’s the first time in Canada or the United States we’ve had a PhD program in Indigenous health. 

So in some senses it’s sad that it’s taken this long for something like this to occur. However, I’m happy that it’s finally here and I could not turn down the opportunity to be a part of the development of that program launch and to see this amazing group of our students come forward and pave the way in this space within a medical school environment. Seeing the support that is coming through, we have five amazing Indigenous faculty currently and we’re looking at expanding. The program is just going amazingly well so far.

$1 Million Prize:

Porcupine (14:34): So can I leap back to the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation? So we don’t forget. And maybe can you just touch on this amazing award that you got — the Arctic Inspiration prize—back in 2017 and why you got it? And all the good things you’re able to do with the monetary prize of a million dollars.

Nicole (14:58): It was definitely a wonderful surprise and an amazing opportunity for us. There was three of us: myself, Elder Besa Blondin and Elder Rasi Nashalik, who were pushing based on the previous work of Elder François Paulette up North. Elder Francoise Paulette had been pushing for an Indigenous healing center alongside the Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife for many years and was facing many obstacles and challenges. So with that we decided to take on his initiative and continue pushing and ensuring that our people had a place they could go to be able to experience our own ways of health and healing. So we pushed for a while and we were unsuccessful in getting funding. Thanks to the Arctic Inspiration Prize being available to Northern initiatives, which is a very unique opportunity comparatively to other regions in the Indigenous landscape worldwide, we were able to put in a proposal and were awarded the $1 million prize in the 2017 cycle. It was just a huge boon and opportunity for us to launch an urban Indigenous healing camp in downtown Yellowknife, which was one of the first urban, land-based healing camps that we know of within North America.

And we set it up with the intent of mimicking or trying to embody as much of the land based practice that we could, but within an urban setting. It had to be accessible to our most vulnerable populations, including those on the street. Those suffering from alcohol use disorders; our youth, who were having issues within the school systems; and those within jails or remands. 

From there on in, the opportunities just continued to come. And I’m just so proud of all of our workers. We’ve been over two years in operation now for our healing camp. Thousands of people have come through, I don’t want to say the doors, but the tent doors to come and have a cup of tea, talk to Elders, and engage in our cultural programming. More and more people from the communities in the outline regions are flying in under some of the federal government programs that exist for traditional healers. There are also some communities setting up their own tents now to do similar things. So I’m very pleased to see this effort being mobilized now in other areas, because we need this type of thing in many of our communities, not just in Yellowknife.

What is a tent-based on-the-land initiative all about?

Porcupine (17:38): So Nicole, could you paint us a picture of what happens if you go through that land-based program in Yellowknife? Who’s the typical person who would come to that program? Or maybe you have an example that you can share with us of somebody who you know of that’s gone through it and kind of what would they do and what does it look like as they’re moving through that particular program? For people who wouldn’t know what a tent-based on-the-land initiative is about actually.

Nicole (18:09): I’ll read you one short quote from a camp participant who wrote:

“Although on the edge of the city, each step down the path leaves the city behind. The sounds of traffic are replaced with the sounds of birds, the crunching of the gray gravel beneath my feet. My spirit feels lighter. As I approached the camp, there’s a feeling of peacefulness here, where you can feel the warmth of the fire on your face, popping and crackling. And the smell of the fire brings a calmness, a feeling of openness. You are safe here. You can talk here, you can listen here.” 

And I think that sums up sort of the experience that we’ve seen from a lot of our camp attendees with one in particular that really stands out. And this gentleman has been very gracious in terms of telling his story. It was George, who was one of our first camp attendants way back when, who had been on the streets for decades and had a lot of hardships in his life.

And William Greenland is one of our traditional counselors and he invited George out to have a cup of tea at the camp before we even started the build process, not quite sure where that would go. But the next day George showed up again. And the next day he showed up again and he kept showing up every day for three months and he helped build our camp. He ended up doing odd jobs. We hired him as our coordinator at that point to be able to keep the fires going and George, throughout that time, became sober for the first time in his adult life. And he did amazing, amazing work going for treatment and helping many others because a lot of people that were on the streets with him for so many decades. We’re now seeing him healthy and well. Unfortunately about eight or nine months to the day of him being sober, he suffered a stroke and passed. But his legacy isn’t gone. We actually have a tent named after him. Now our camp has Sturgis tent and his drum is in there, plus some of his other things that he made throughout that time

It was a great example of just how impactful that camp can be for people. 

Even those that have suffered great hardships throughout their life have been able to turn things around and be out there on the land. Even in the city of Yellowknife with our Elders.

Porcupine (20:37): Nicole while you’re far away, you’ve kept very strong ties with the NWT. I’m wondering if you could just tell us how important that is to you living now in another country? 

Nicole (20:51): Definitely, my home is where my roots are, where my ancestors are. It’s so important for me to maintain those connections and always keep that work and purpose in mind. And I’ve realized more and more as I’ve gotten older, the importance of knowing those roots and keeping them where they need to be. And with the work with the Foundation, I’m continuing to be the Board Chair. I’m honoured to still have that representation on behalf of the Board, to continue the work that we need to do going forward. But also, wanting to ensure that as many of our students have opportunities in the North as possible. 

We’ve done quite a few publications with some of the Elders up there, increasing collaboration between northerners and other Indigenous communities across the globe. Another big prime motivation for me is developing those bonds across nations facing similar issues, especially in this realm of planetary health and the amazing ability and knowledge of northerners. To be able to contribute to that international dialogue in the Indigenous space towards climate change is just so invaluable that I continued to try as much as possible to platform that work widely.

What does reconciliation mean for you? 

Porcupine (22:10):In many of our podcast episodes where we talk with people about what reconciliation means to them. So many link the concept to a reconciliation, not only among people, but a reconciliation between people and the earth. And I hear that in your description of the work you’re doing on planetary health. And I’m wondering if you could describe for us if you frame it that way. What does reconciliation mean for you either personally, or in your work in the health field.

Nicole (22:50): Such an important point. And I think it’s not talked about enough that not only is reconciliation with the earth important, but reconciliation with self is too. And that was kind of the thread running through the book. 

The Science of the Sacred was really about reconciliation with oneself. 

We’ve had such complicated histories, but it needs to start in terms of our own relationality, our own responsibility and rootedness to where we are. And it makes it very difficult to be able to initiate reconciliation on other planes, unless we can have that reconciliation within our own lives and within ourselves. Speaking on the broader scale, that peace with the earth is just so incredibly important. In fact, it’s been very clear even in international circles  that the root of our problem is we have been disconnected or have become disconnected from our land and that connectedness with nature. It’s the interrelatedness of all things that underlies our natural laws and our first laws that exist within Indigenous communities for thousands of years, sometimes called first law, depending on where it comes from, and really it’s rooted down to interconnectedness.

So in terms of the term reconciliation, there’s so many different layers and complexities that come around this word. But often we only hear about it in terms of the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, but it’s so much deeper than that. And I believe and hope that the word will start to be thought about in some of these other scales. As you’ve noted reconciliation with place reconciliation, with self, there’s so many possibilities and lenses that can be used within that term. And I like to use it very broadly because of that.

Reconciliation in Canada and USA:

Porcupine (24:43): So, Nicole, we all sit up here in the North with our TVs on check-in or computers and Flipboard and all these things, and we watch what’s going on in the United States with some amazement. I’m just interested to know how different is it working and living in the US rather than living and working in NWT. Has anything in that process changed how you think about or reaffirm things like reconciliation?

Nicole (25:12): Well, one thing I’ve recognized is definitely Canada has gotten a little bit more reconciliation discussion and we have not had that in the United States—any reconciliation commission. The closest thing has been the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, which finally has gotten some centralization within the US discourse within the last few years thanks to the work of a few amazing women around the nation. But that word is very much still not known even, even amongst Indigenous communities, because there’s just been a lot of resistance. 

The other thing that’s been amazing down here that’s really changed my view is sovereignty. Especially coming from the Northwest Territories where a lot of our relationships as Indigenous governments fall through the territories. So the Northwest Territories don’t have control, at least within healthcare. A lot of our health budgets are no longer going directly to communities whereas here in North Dakota, where I work, the tribes are completely sovereign. They have the choice to run their own health systems. They run all their own governments, their lands. There’s this different level of sovereignty that I just was not aware of. And to be frank, I was quite surprised by the amount of independence that is existing within the governance structures that exist still with many challenges with being embedded in treaty processes and federal funding. But because of that, being in North Dakota with a higher Indigenous population comparatively to other states, working with Indigenous faculty at the med school, I think I am somewhat in a bubble so to speak comparatively to perhaps the rest of rural North Dakota. 

But I’ve seen a lot of the same issues from many places in the world, no matter where you are

You can be in Inuvik, you can be in Rapid City, South Dakota, you could be in Aotearoa in Maori lands in New Zealand. There’s so much overlap in terms of the root issues of things, which is the initial repercussions of the land and culture taking that occurred. And the result we’re seeing from that in so many ways is the historical trauma that exists today. So in essence, being in a different place, but still seeing very similar issues outside of course, the levels of sovereignty that exists down here in many of the reservation communities is different to the North.

Porcupine (27:46): I, as you know, am a lawyer in Canada. Just maybe last year, the University of Victoria has the very first PhD program in law dealing with Indigenous laws and Indigenous legal systems. That was just such an exciting time for folks here. And you’d mentioned earlier that the program that you’re involved in at University of North Dakota, was the first in North America. I’m wondering from what you know about Canada, what would we need to do to be able to have something like that here? What do you think are the main barriers? Because that just seems like it would be such a critical next step to reconciliation and in health. Is this kind of an initiative?

Nicole (28:37): Absolutely. This is far overdue in Canada. 

To not have a PhD program in Indigenous health is, to be frank, a travesty at this point in 2020. 

And the issues right now that I’ve seen and in talking to colleagues that are based in Canadian universities is a few fold. We don’t have enough Indigenous leadership in university leadership faculty positions. The second piece is we need bulk hiring of Indigenous faculty within the departments to be able to hold this type of program. Because historically what has happened is there may be one or two if lucky in a department, which is nowhere near enough to be able to host a full graduate program without having to have three quarters of the faculty be non-Indigenous in an Indigenous health program. So having these leadership positions in universities is absolutely critical.

What it’s going to take is allyship. It’s going to occur within these departments. And then the last thing is recognition of ways of knowing. For example, in many Canadian universities, you require a PhD to be able to be hired on what’s called tenure track positions, which are the secure positions in universities. I don’t have a PhD. I’m a naturopathic doctor. I have a master’s of public health as well. But in the United States, you can be hired as a PhD or equivalent in terms of the knowledge base and Indigenous health is such a specialized area of knowledge that many of our PhD students that come through have been trained within Western ways of knowing and educating. So to be able to integrate, we need to have more flexibility in how hiring practices occur within Canadian universities to be able to account for those different ways of knowing going forward.

Growing up on one of the biggest lakes in the world:

Porcupine (30:41): I was just going to shift the focus back North a bit for a question. Deninu Kue, also known as Fort Resolution, is two and a half hours down the road from where I live. On the shore is Great Slave Lake, one of the biggest lakes in the world. I was just wondering if you could share a couple of your fondest memories of growing up there.

Nicole (31:01): Absolutely. I can tell you very clearly my grandmother’s house was right on the top of the hill, just overlooking the lake. There’s only one road and then the lake is right after that. My favourite place to be in the summertime was on the picnic table that was right in front of the smoke house that was out there. And we would pluck ducks on that table and then bring them in. And my grandma would make the duck and barley soup and have bannock cooking in the oven. Then we’d go back out and sit by the fire around that picnic table and eat her duck soup. There’s nobody that made duck soup like that. It was just delicious. Sunset going down over that lake… it’s just a beautiful spot. So you raise their own family and there’s, I mean, such times of political unrest and global climate change and you’re focused on health issues.

Porcupine: And so how are you preparing your children for the life ahead? How did these things translate into your own family?

Nicole: Such an important question. As we see so many young people these days in what we call ecological grief or eco anxiety. That’s coming due to the changes that are occurring in the planet and not feeling a rootedness and feeling very much uncertainty for the future to come. One of the things that I’ve realized is the most important piece throughout all of this is that, when children know that they have a history that grounds them, a history that routes them lessons, and ways of knowing that allow connection, regardless of what else is going in the world, creates this amazing resilience and ability to adapt and the ability to be flexible, and the ability to have tolerance within all of the various shifts that are occurring. So because of that, you know, I often will focus on those pieces with my kids just making sure, despite the distance, that we are from our home. That they know who they are, where they came from, who their relatives are, who their ancestors are, what their traditions are, what their teachings are, and to be able to have those bits in their life from the beginning to give them strength as they go forward,

Family role models:

Porcupine (33:33): Your children must look at your family and feel such a sense of role models. You have really talented siblings also that are doing amazing work. Can you tell us a little bit about what they’re doing.

Nicole (33:51): Always very happy to, to talk about my siblings, very proud of the work that they’re doing. My youngest sister Tunchai and the next youngest, my brother Kelvin Redvers, are the co-founders of the We Matter campaign, which is a national wide suicide prevention organization. It’s really worked on increasing hope within Indigenous communities, starting off through filmmaking of hope videos and ensuring that youth were supporting other youth, and the amazing partnerships that they’ve been able to develop with Facebook, and creating algorithms to identify at risk posts from Indigenous children, for example, to connect them with local services and allow for other Indigenous youth to connect with them and their organizations. Just continuing to broaden their scope of hope ambassadors as young people around the nation. 

And then my other sister, Jennifer Redvers, who’s been a big proponent and leader within land-based healing methods and work is doing her thesis on online based healing. A lot of work around evaluation within a land-based healing, and then also developing some of the curriculum with the Thunderbird Foundation and trying to involve counseling work. She’s now up in the Yukon territory, working there and doing work with youth, trying to make these connections. 

So I’m just really proud of all of them for continuing the work that they’re doing. It’s not easy work that they’re doing. So I’m really proud of them for sticking it in there and continuing to help give a voice to the voiceless that unfortunately, sometimes don’t have those supports set at higher levels to even get funding or to be able to put programs in place.

Do you have hope for the future?

Porcupine (35:38): Thank you for that. One of our other guests this year was Dianne Saxe. She wasn’t the first person to say that she’s an environmental lawyer, but she reminded us that the antidote for despair is action. So I have a feeling I know what the answer to this question is going to be already because of all the things that you and your family are doing, but do you have hope for the future?

Nicole (36:04): I do. I do have hope. And I have hope because of the sacrifices that our elders and community have made for decades. I look back at the atrocities that many of them have been through in residential schools and all of the other items that have come through the 60s scoop, forced sterilization, and all of the elements that have come through Canadian history. To be able to think of all of those things that they’ve been through and how much knowledge and gifts and guidance they still continue to give, gives me great strength and hope that we can face all of the things that are coming for us. And action is the way we need to be thinking about how we work. Not only for the next seven generations, but also ensuring of course we think of mother earth as a relative, and we treat her as such in terms of the work that we do. And I try to work and fight for her as much as I would for my own mum.

Porcupine (37:07): Speaking about action, a personal question for this specific time of year, how are things going for your planning for your Yuletide festivities? I’m assuming in a bubble like many of us away from your families? 

Nicole (37:23): Yeah. Absolutely. It’s away from our family this year. We’ve actually rented an isolated cabin in Minnesota about probably two hours East of the North Dakota border, just on a little lake—nobody around. So we’re looking forward to just going out and having a fire outside and doing some walks and hopefully some skiing. Although we don’t have much snow here yet, so that’s yet to be seen in the next week, but we’re just going to enjoy each other’s company and bring some good food out there. We’ve been gifted some buffalo meat, which I’m so grateful for. We’ll be able to cook some of that over the holidays. So we’re looking forward to the downtime and being out on the land as much as we can, even despite being down here.

Porcupine (38:10): So, Nicole, is there anything else that you would like to highlight or share?

Honouring the work of Elders:

Nicole (38:15): I think the only other piece is just recognizing that a lot of the work that I’ve done and all of this, is not my work. This is the work of many of our collective Elders over thousands of years in terms of their knowledge and their pushing their guidance through this project. So without them, in that piece, I wouldn’t be here where I am today. So I always want to just make sure that they’re honoured in any of these types of conversations.

Porcupine (38:36): Thank you very much, Nicole. I’m going to be 70 soon, so I appreciate that more and more.

Nicole: Happy almost birthday, May 2021 be good to us all. 

Porcupine: Yes, absolutely.

Listen to the Episode

Episode 1: Reconciliation Through Conservation: Mining, the Environment, and Development that Conflicts with the Rights and Values of Indigenous Peoples
Episode 2: The Human Right to a Healthy Environment: How It Can Transform Society and Achieve Reconciliation
Episode 3: Addressing the Indigenous Health Gap: Reconciliation Through Bridging Western and Indigenous Medicines
Episode 4: Finding Healing After Surviving Residential Schools in Canada
Episode 5: Reconciliation: Redefined by an Indigenous Spiritual Leader
Episode 6: Reconciliation and Serving the World Through Sustainable Engineering
Episode 7: How Housing Could Save the Lives of MMIWG
Episode 8: Exploring Reconciliation through Clean Energy in Indigenous Communities
Episode 9: Reconciliation and Climate Change: Indigenous Peoples Taking Action
Episode 10: Indigenous Economic Reconciliation: The Way to a Strong Canadian Economy


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