TOP IMAGE: Four of the Well Living House Grandparents © Courtesy of Well Living House
A healthy world begins with healthy communities. In Canada and across the globe, Indigenous children experience an unequal burden of health and social challenge. For hundreds of years, colonial policies have undermined Indigenous families and their health and wellbeing. Currently, there are gaps in the adequacy and safety of services focused on the health of Indigenous families.
The Well Living House (WLH), an action research centre focused on Indigenous infant, child, and family health, aims to change that by nurturing places and spaces where Indigenous Peoples can gather and share knowledge and resources about happy and healthy community living.
Born of a partnership between Indigenous health researchers and Indigenous community partners, WLH is led by Métis physician and scientist, Dr. Janet Smylie. The organization brings together Indigenous scientists, health workers, Elders, community leaders, and trainees, creating a human network committed to advancing the health of Indigenous Peoples. Their research is designed to be of tangible and practical benefit to Indigenous community partners—for example, design and evaluation of models of Indigenous midwifery and COVID-19 response.
Key to the success of Well Living House is a dedicated committee of guiding Elders, called the Counsel of Grandparents—the word choice is deliberate, symbolizing the value of what the Grandparents do and underlining their commitment to action. The following six grandparents, along with Dr. Smylie and their incredible team, have been instrumental in the success of Well Living House.
Meet the Well Living House Grandparents
Maria Campbell, Cree-Métis
Maria Campbell is a writer, playwright, teacher, activist, and advocate. She co-founded a women’s halfway house and a women and children’s safe-house in Edmonton (and maintained one in SK until recently). She has mentored Indigenous artists and scholars in all forms of the arts and across academic disciplines. She has received numerous awards for her contributions and was made an Officer of Canada in 2008.
Jan Kahehti:io Longboat, Turtle Clan of the Mohawk Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River
Jan is the keeper of Earth Healing Herb Gardens and Retreat Centre, a recipient of the Smithsonian Peace Award, Order of Canada, and Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Guelph. Jan has dedicated her life to the dissemination and learning of Indigenous language and culture as an advisor to the Ministry of Justice Aboriginal Court and educator at Mohawk College, McMaster, and the University of Toronto.
Madeleine Kétéskwēw Dion Stout, Cree, Kehewin Cree Nation, Alberta
A nurse, teacher, philosopher, and direct descendant of Big Bear, Ms. Dion Stout is a respected leader in the health and development of Indigenous people. She has received numerous accolades, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Aboriginal Role Models of Alberta in 2018 and the Order of Canada in 2015.
Albert Dumont, Algonquin, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg
An activist, volunteer and published poet, Albert Dumont has long served his community as an Elder and spiritual advisor. He served as one of 13 Elders on the Elders Advisory Committee of the Ministry of the Attorney General and has dedicated his life to promoting Aboriginal spirituality and healing.
Carol Terry, Anishnawbe, Obishikokaang (Lac Seul)
An adult learner herself (BA, B.Ed) Carol Terry is a firm believer in lifelong learning. She has been a Program Manager for Health Canada and a Health Director for two different tribal councils. Carol and her family are passionate about being out on the lands of northwestern Ontario and across Canada by canoe and dog team.
Alita Sauve, Tahltan and Cree
Alita is an Indigenous woman of two nations—Tahltan from British Columbia and Cree from Saskatchewan. A descendant of Traditional Medicine Societies, she shares her lifetime of learning through various teachings and ceremonies. Alita has provided service to the urban Indigenous community for 29 years, providing traditional teachings and ceremonial ways.
This fall marks ten years of Well Living House making a difference in the lives of Indigenous children. Learn more and show your support at welllivinghouse.com.
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Well Living House is an action research centre for Indigenous infants, children, and their families’ health and well-being. Our focus is on gathering, using, sharing, and protecting Indigenous health and well-being knowledge and practices.