Informing curricula with Indigenous ways of knowing

Please select a featured image for your post

On Dec. 13, 2019, a feast was held at Migizii Agamik – Bald Eagle Lodge on Fort Garry campus, marking the end of a year-long project to develop curricula for the College of Nursing and the anticipated midwifery program.

The project, titled Indigenous ways of knowing: Developing Indigenous competencies to inform undergraduate midwifery and nursing curricula, identifies places in both the midwifery and nursing undergraduate academic curricula in the College of Nursing, where Indigenous knowledge will be threaded as learning outcomes for all students.

Led by Dr. Kellie Thiessen, director of the midwifery program, the project included input from Indigenous educators, midwives and nurses, focusing on embedding Indigenous ways of knowing, including the incorporation of Indigenous core competencies.

“As a team we identified key historical events related to intergenerational trauma that need to be embedded throughout both curricula,” Thiessen said. “We discussed Indigenous ways of teaching and evaluating and who should be involved in the delivery of Indigenous content.  Most importantly we built relationships that we will continue to cultivate to do this on-going work.”  

The project was funded by the U of M’s Indigenous Initiatives Fund.  

The project team included:

  • Audrey Richard, student advisor/counsellor, Aboriginal Nursing Cohort Initiative (ANCI), College of Nursing
  • Trina Arnold, instructor, College of Nursing
  • Darlene Birch, Indigenous registered midwife
  • Melissa Brown, Indigenous registered midwife, (title of Doula Initiative)
  • Delia Monias, Indigenous licensed practical nurse, Norway House Cree Nation
  • Debra Beach Ducharme, director, indigenous health integration, Ongomiizwin – Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing
  • Dr. Sue McClement, professor and associate dean, research, College of Nursing
  • Lauressa Garson, Indigenous nursing student, College of Nursing
  • Leah Fontaine, Indigenous initiatives educator, Advancement of Teaching and Learning Centre
  • Colleen Webb, educational developer, Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning
  • Alexandra Cropp, project coordinator, Health Centre of Excellence, Norway House Cree Nation
  • Mary Anne Nurmi, administrative assistant, Bachelor of Midwifery Program, College of Nursing

Members of the team also created a “sacred hoop” with artist/educator Leah Fontaine (Anishinaabe/Dakota/Metis), Indigenous initiatives educator for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning Centre. The artwork was on display at the feast and will continue to inspire students of the College of Nursing and anticipated midwifery program.

Titled “The 13 Medicines,” the sacred hoop integrates traditional Indigenous medicines in health care.

“Grandmother, who is represented on the artwork, is the culture carriers and seer of all children. Indigenous grandparents have historically played and continue to have significant roles in the lives of grandchildren,” Fontaine said. “Children are our medicine.”

Fontaine said the exercise in this sacred hoop and program is about Indigenous visual and circular philosophical thinking.

“It has a combination of six or seven realities,” she said. “Circular thinking is about the capacity to look in all directions and appreciate everything that one can see. The exercise of making the wheel was to get everyone to think in circles, about how everything is interrelated and interconnected.”