Miywâyâwin Wâhkôtawin: A Symposium to Build Relationships and Exchange Knowledge of Arts-based Innovations in Aboriginal Health Research


Tony Gee from Devon, England

On October 4-6, 2013, the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC) hosted a weekend-long symposium entitled Miywâyâwin Wâhkôtawin: A Symposium to Build Relationships and Exchange Knowledge of Arts-based Innovations in Aboriginal Health Research. Over thirty health researchers, applied arts practitioners, health professionals, and students from North America were in attendance. Some of the many notable guests included Dr. Suzanne Christopher, Director of the Centre for Native Health Partnerships in Montana, Dr. Rosemary Jolly Weiss Chair of Literature and Human Rights at Penn State University, and Tony Gee, puppeteer, and artistic director of the Moveable Feast Workshop Company from Devon, England.

The research symposium also launched the awarding of a new CIHR (Canadian Institutes for Health Research) grant to a team of researchers from across Canada with principal investigators Dr. Jo-Ann Episkenew, Director of IPHRC, Dr. Linda Goulet, First Nations University of Canada, Dr. Warren Linds, Concordia University, and Dr. Greg Marchildon, University of Regina, in the amount of $535,556 over three years. The grant, Kitinikewin misiwanacihisowin: Researching arts-based wellness promotion for suicide prevention among Aboriginal youth, builds on an existing CIHR arts-based research project that works in partnership with the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC) Health Services.


Students from Peepeekisis after performing their puppet show

The symposium began Friday evening with a prayer by elder Joe O’Watch from Carry the Kettle First Nation, who has previously served on the Elder advisory committee for the CIHR project. Following an opening by Dancing Young Buffalo Drum Group from Piapot First Nation, the symposium participants were treated to a puppet play by high school students from Peepeekisis First Nation who, through their puppets, conveyed their views of youth health and answered questions from the audience. The puppets and the play were created in a workshop earlier in the week offered by Tony Gee, Warren Linds, community partner Karen Schmidt, and research assistant David Benjoe, as part of the CIHR research project.


Dr. Rosemary Jolly speaks to symposium and community guests on Saturday evening

On Saturday and Sunday, the symposium participants engaged in arts-based knowledge generation techniques and shared research development, barriers and successes, and impacts and methods of communicating and learning with others including community members. On Saturday evening, IPHRC hosted a event open to the community on Aboriginal youth health at Albert Scott Community Centre in Regina with Danis Goulet’s film Barefoot on Aboriginal youth and teen pregnancy. The event also featured symposium participant and guest speaker, Dr. Rosemary Jolly, who discussed the relationship between human rights and health.


Symposium participants during one of the weekend’s many activities


The symposium ended Sunday evening with the participants viewing a 116 page visual report of the weekend’s activities. This multi-media report was a compilation of art pieces, journal entries, and photos taken by the weekend’s videographer, Gabriel Yahyahkeekoot, and was compiled by documenter Kit Malo. All participants were given a USB stick with a copy of the report to take with them, and will also be receiving a DVD of collected video footage from the entire symposium upon completion. We will post the video on the Acting Out site when it is completed.

You can view the visual report HERE.



Reflecting on a weekend of exploration and learning!


IPHRC wishes to acknowledge and thank the following institutions for their support in hosting the symposium: