Indigenous Women’s Digital Health Stories: A Form of Advocacy and Reconciliation in Healthcare
- EFN Staff | February 28, 2020
Indigenous women’s health stories are complex and accessing culturally appropriate healthcare is challenging.
Shelley Wiart, co-founded Women Warriors, an Indigenous focused, holistic health program that helps Indigenous women share their health stories. The program also provides free fitness classes and nutrition education.
“The participants shared their personal stories of negative experiences with healthcare providers in our round circle discussions and one-on-one with me. Also, they expressed the desire to share positive stories of their community and culture because of the negative media and stereotypes of Indigenous peoples in Canada.”
She said health-care professionals often don't understand how intergenerational trauma and the legacy of residential school can impact Indigenous women's health or the challenges they can face accessing quality health care.
Wiart created five digital stories about Indigenous women—two from the Onion Lake area near Lloydminster, Alberta, where she currently lives, and three from Yellowknife, NWT, where her family is from.
In the online videos of health stories, Indigenous women share their experience but also their traditional knowledge and healing practices and service needs. The videos also educate non-Indigenous people about traditional healing practices among different Indigenous groups, bridging the gap between western medicine and Indigenous medicine.
"Indigenous women need more spaces to tell their own stories in their own voices," Wiart said, adding the women had complete control over their stories, from writing to selecting photos and music in the videos.
The project goal is to share stories to increase healthcare providers’ understanding of Indigenous women’s health and foster reconciliation in healthcare. Wiart shared the videos at public event in August in Yellowknife. She has also shared them with medical residents at the University of Calgary, has spoken about the stories on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, and was invited to present at the government of the Northwest Territories cultural competency training. More recently, she was invited to present alongside Dr. Paul Naude, a family physician to Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nations.
“I was excited because I felt like I could do a better job just talking to Indigenous communities, sharing the videos with them, and giving them some help with advocacy and using their own stories to transform the healthcare system,” Wiart said.
The five digital stories can be viewed on the Women Warriors website www.womenwarriors.club.