Legacy: Indigenous Women’s Health Stories

On Thursday, August 15, 2019, five digital stories were premiered at Northern United Place in Yellowknife. These stories, entitled "Legacy: Indigenous Women's Health Stories", were created by Indigenous women in two locations – Onion Lake Cree Nation, on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan & Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.  

This event was the culmination of a summer of research from principal investigator Shelley Wiart (North Slave Métis Alliance), who also emceed the event along with community Elder Gail Cyr. The storytellers were in attendance: Maxine Desjarlais (Frog Lake First Nations), Beatrice Harper, (Onion Lake Cree Nation), Sheryl Liske (Yellowknives Dene First Nations), Dorothy Weyallon (Tłı̨chǫ Nation), and Tanya Roach (Inuit). The evening opened with a community meal of bannock and chili, following by welcoming remarks from Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Scientific Director of Hotıì ts'eeda & Lesa Semmler, Governing Council of Hotıì ts'eeda. Approximately 55 community members attended. 

The five stories were followed by a moderated speakers panel with the participants, and Inuit throat Tanya Roach & Nanasee Leblanc.

The event also functioned as a research opportunity for Shelley, who asked audience members to provide suggestions about reconciliation in healthcare by filling out the sentence, “I wish health care providers…”. All of the knowledge generated from the digital stories, the community screening and interviews with participants will be shared in her upcoming research paper for Athabasca University. In addition, Shelley will be submitting an article about digital storytelling with Indigenous women to Northern Public Affairs for a special edition on Indigenous Health.

Audience feedback included the following email: “I moved to the NWT last October and this was one of the most memorable, well-organized, and humbling events I have been able to participate in. Although my interest in your project is firstly personal, I was happy to hear of your plans to make the stories available to the public and as a means of further educating health professionals. My sense is the stories and increased appreciation of the unique lived experiences of those who told them will help my colleagues and I respond in ways that are more meaningful and truly supportive.”

The digital stories will be available for viewing winter 2019. To learn more about Shelley’s undergrad research project, Digital Storytelling as an Indigenous Women’s Health Advocacy Tool: Empowering Indigenous Women to Frame Their Health Stories please visit www.womenwarriors.club. Please subscribe to the Women Warriors newsletter for notification of the digital stories release online.

Hotıì ts'eeda was pleased to support Shelley by funding a research assistant for her summer work and sponsoring this knowledge translation event.