Promoting the Health of Indigenous People

In response to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, a BSN course was introduced in 2018 for students to learn about how racism and ongoing colonialism contribute to health inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada within the wider historical, social, economic, and political context. Students learn about their own positionality as the basis for providing safe, ethical and respectful care for Indigenous Peoples and how integrating Indigenous ways of knowing can contribute to the decolonization of systems through equitable and culturally safe care.

The images on the opposite page from Nov 2021 at the First Nations House of Learning were taken during a class entitled “Resiliency & Resurgence: Indigenous Knowledge, Learning & Land-Based Healing.” Students experienced the teachings of guest lecturer Dancing Water Sandy and then carried these teachings into the making of medicinal teas with sacred plant medicines, cedar candles, and healing salves. Dancing Water Sandy is Secwepemc, Cree and Scottish and lives in Sugarcane, BC. In addition to a Bachelor of Education degree from UBC with a specialization in Indigenous Education, Dancing Water imbues her instructional style with “traditional knowledge that has been entrusted to her from her family, her ancestors, her life, and her extensive experience working with community.”

For many years, Dancing Water and Dr. Helen Brown have worked together on projects with First Nation communities and people who are incarcerated. Dancing Water has been a fixture in the class since the NURS 353 course began in 2018 and her dedication is noteworthy. In 2020, when the class was taken online, Dancing Water shipped the tea ingredients to Dr. Brown, who, with the assistance of about eight students, delivered the tea-making kits to the entire NURS 353 class, enabling their participation in this powerful online experience with Dancing Water. Fortunately, in 2021, students were able to be in-person to listen to the teachings and be guided by Dancing Water to experience working with and learning about Indigenous medicines.