June 23, 2023

UCalgary Nursing strengthens efforts to understand its role in Indigenous health care

Michelle Scott, new director of Indigenous initiatives, shares more about the nursing faculty's road to Indigenous recognition
Good Striker
Jaelyn Good Striker performs a jingle dance at the launch of UCalgary Nursing's Mental Health and Wellness NP Clinic.
Grandmother Doreen Spence and Michelle Scott

Grandmother Doreen Spence and Michelle Scott at our first Truth & Reconciliation Circle event in June at the Faculty of Nursing.

UCalgary Nursing has been on a journey to address the health-related Calls to Action of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report. 

In 2017, an Indigenous Initiatives portfolio was established with the intent of introducing Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing in the faculty, alongside learning about, and teaching to understand the historical and ongoing impacts of settler colonialism from a systemic level in health care within the Canadian context.  

2023 has been a particularly energized year and with the February hiring of Dr. Michelle Scott, EdD’23, new director of Indigenous Initiatives and assistant professor (teaching), there are many ongoing activities underway. Scott (Anaatsa'poopaki – Pretty Plume Woman) is committed to opening up spaces within the western academy to centre Indigenous voices and Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. 

“Some amazing work was done by the previous director(s)," says Scott, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, "and I am excited to build on that and work towards envisioning and actioning the next steps in the faculty." 

Scott is proud to see that nursing students have rallied around some exciting initiatives and is working alongside Darcy Callihoo, Undergraduate Nursing Society’s vice-president of Indigenous initiatives.

“Darcy and I will work together on programming, advocacy and opportunities to bring Indigenous students and non-Indigenous students together to learn about how to be good relatives,” she says, the first being a “medicine garden” plot inside UCalgary’s community garden.   

Darcy Callihoo, community garden

Darcy Callihoo, VP Indigenous Initiatives, Undergraduate Nursing Society, weeds plot in community garden.

Elder Evelyn Good Striker

Elder Evelyn Good Striker

Here are a few other examples of Indigenous initiatives in 2023: 

Student-led Initiatives 

Thanks to the hard work of students in 2022, applications to the SU Quality Money Initiative garnered almost $4,500 to fund a program supporting, among other things, transformations to the space within the faculty for an Elders Room, outfitting a smudging room, gifts, honoraria, parking and refreshments. This included visits by Elders who shared teachings and tea in the new Elders Room.  

Angela Bear Chief

Angela Bear Chief

Cultural Programming 

With the benefit of the SU Funding, Scott hosted an Indigenous intercultural training event in February to teach faculty, staff and students about Indigenous protocol and engaging with Elders. Additionally, the faculty has welcomed Angela Bear Chief for regular “Beading and Banter” sessions where Bear Chief, a Siksika Nation member, brings her beading supplies and teaches participants how to create beading projects. 

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