Design a site like this with
Get started

Reflections of an Indigenous Nursing Student

By: Nikkol Medicine

Boozhoo, Miskwa beneshii dizhnikaaz

As part of my University experience as a professional student and my nursing practice – I strive to advocate and bring awareness to cultural safety, sensitivity and competence within my class work and overall program. Nursing Theory is one of the multiple mandatory courses nursing students are required to obtain within nursing school. In this course we learn about various theorists and theories that have grounded nursing practice throughout history.

Nursing theory is a ubiquitous, diverse yet fundamental component to a nurses practice. As future nurses, the heart of our nursing practice is to ensure our knowledge is well informed from relevant theorists and theory models. Smith and Parker emphasize, “Nursing theories are an important part of this body of knowledge, and regardless of complexity or abstraction, they reflect phenomena central to the discipline, and should be used by nurses to frame their thinking, action and being in the world” (Smith & Parker, 2015)

As part of my Nursing Theory course, our final assignment was to construct a creative medium piece. Guidelines for this assignment outlined an artistic portion and a written portion that had to weave theories and theorists together. Depiction of my artistic rendering portrays Indigenous culture, and how elements within my culture reflect similarities of three major grand theories, and one middle range theory we have studied throughout this course. My written portion of my document provides thorough explanation to support my art through annotated bibliographies that reflect the importance and relevance of Indigenous culture and nursing practice.

D Jingle Dress Dance Nikkol Medicine
Original drawings by Nikkol Medicine: Image D – Jingle Dress Dance (Credit: Nikkol Medicine)

Throughout our nursing theory course, one theory that I have found significant value for is Roy’s adaptation model. This model expresses a fundamental basis around people and their environment as adaptive systems. Roy’s adaptation model is represented in my first art piece that portrays holistic health, and Indigenous connections to the land and animals. Within my culture, the teachings that have been shared with me involve a connection we share with our language, land and animals. My teachers have conveyed the importance of taking care of the land, giving back what you can, never taking too much of something and that nothing is wasteful. My art also depicts the sacred medicine wheel, and within this wheel the colours also hold their own representations of certain teachings, for example the four directions, and four sacred medicines. I feel my artistic rendering shares an important piece to Indigenous culture, and how learning and incorporating these values within your life, along with Roy’s adaptation model can benefit healing for Indigenous peoples.

C Traditional Healing Nikkol Medicine
Original drawings by Nikkol Medicine : Image C – Traditional Healing (Credit: Nikkol Medicine)

Another theorist this course has introduced is Jean Watson, and the theory of caring she has refined. The history of this theory was based upon Watsons personal views as a nurse and blended throughout her succeeding academic studies. One of the concepts Watson’s theory introduces is the 10 carative factors, which was established to provide nurses with practice foundations. In other words, carative factors is the philosophy and theory of human caring and used instead of “curative” to distinguish between nursing and medicine. These factors I feel weave into the gifts of the seven grandfathers, and my artistic rendering of the seven grandfathers display the connections to this theory. Within my culture, we acknowledge these seven grandfather teachings with an animal that reflects each gift. Within my culture, I have learned that each of these teachings should weave together and be part of living a good life, “Bimaadiziwin”.

Nikkol B Seven Grandfather Teachings
Original Drawing by Nikkol Medicine: Image B – Seven Grandfather Teachings (Credit: Nikkol Medicine)

The final grand theorist that is relevant to my artistic rendering includes views of Madeleine Leiningers culture care theory. Within her theory, she focuses on the essential scope of practice that believes in transcultural nursing, and ensures nursing practice provides therapeutic meaningful healing (Smith and Parker, 2015). My artistic rendering of traditional healing focuses on the inclusion of my knowledge around the four sacred medicines, which include tobacco, sweet grass, sage and cedar. These medicines are used in many ceremonies for different reasons to provide a connection to one’s spirit, and spiritual healing.

Image AHolistic Health Nikkol Medicinejpg

The middle-range theory used to reflect my artistic renderings, and traditional healing is through the use of Patricia Liehr and Mary Jane Smith’s Story Theory. The use of this theory is recognized to be important within nursing practice, as often times health care decisions that are made for patients are based upon the receiving and telling of stories. The last piece of my artistic rendering represents a traditional dance, known as the jingle dress dance, and this dance is relevant to weave into story theory. The origins of this dance stem from a story that took place within my community of Naotkamegwanning First Nations. The story of the jingle dress dates back to the early 1900’s and it involves a young girl from my community, who became suddenly ill. Today, my community of Naotkamegwanning First Nations, is known as home of the jingle dress, and the teachings of this dress represent it as a healing dance that is still cherished today.

In closing, I feel each artistic rendering represents a story and relationship within its own reflection, that overall revolves around holistic health, healing and wellbeing.

Nikkol Medicine is a Naotkamegwanning First Nation community member currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science of Nursing program at Nipissing University in North Bay, ON.

Shoot for Your Dreams

By: Daphne Prince

Jonathan Paypompee line up the shot (Photo Credit: Daphne Prince)

I would like to take this time to acknowledge my dad’s nephew, Jonathan Paypompee – a member of the community. He grew up in Thunder Bay with his mother Lorraine Paypompee. He has been playing pool since the age of 13. He and his team  won the Alberta cup and have won the Valley National Eight Ball League Association World Masters Division two years in a row. It is one of the worlds largest amateur pool (pocket billiards) leagues held in Las Vegas.

He will be heading to China this coming March for his third year. His interest in pool gives him the opportunity to travel. I know that he’s been to Las Vegas a few times.

Jonathan Paypompee proudly smiles while attending a professional pool tournament (Photo Credit: Daphne Prince

With that I say to everyone: “So do what you love and shoot for your dreams!”

Mourning Tree (Excerpt)


In partnership with ‘Mourning Tree’ story by Maria Blackhawk (Illustrations by Mariah Courtney)

By Maria Blackhawk

The snow was falling gently on a dreary winter day. In the middle of the afternoon, I drew the heavy bedroom curtains and with the room now in darkness, lay down in my bed. The feather pillow that in the past had softly cradled my head, now felt like a cement block.

I had a headache so severely painful that I cried and begged God to just let me die. I didn’t remember falling asleep. The excruciating pain may have pounded me into unconsciousness. I sank into a deep sleep that provided me a desperately needed respite from the horrible pain.

In the deepness of sleep, I arrived at that place where one dreams. I was walking alone down the bush trails in the warm summer forest, which I loved, especially on clear, sunny days like this.

I looked up to a bright, cloudless sky. With every step, my feet sank into thick, plush moss and my weight forced the water from the moss to ooze to the surface and up around the soles of my shoes. Even though I found myself in an unfamiliar place and in a different season, I was not alarmed.

Deeper into the forest, I came upon a campsite that I had never seen before. It was located in a small clearing and it appeared to be an ancient place that had long been abandoned. The tallest poplar trees I had ever seen surrounded the camp, creating a perfect circle of evenly spaced pillars. I got the impression that this place was somehow sacred, like a church.

In partnership with ‘Mourning Tree’ story by Maria Blackhawk (Illustrations by Mariah Courtney)

I thought about the huge boulder structures of Stonehenge in England. Large rocks that were covered in moss and dead leaves, formed a circular fire pit in the center of the clearing. There were pieces of rotting wood in various shapes that, upon closer scrutiny, looked like they might have been used as tools.

A broken, rotting pair of snowshoes was tossed to one side and a makeshift table had toppled over after its two legs had collapsed. I was fascinated by these ancient artifacts. I picked up the snowshoes and ran my fingers along the dry sinew webbing. I had to pick up and examine every item I could find and allow them to tell me their story.

After a thorough survey of the site, I returned by the path that brought me there. I hadn’t gone far when I heard the yells and shouts of several people coming in my direction. I waited to see who they were. As the shouting grew closer, I realized that I couldn’t understand what they were yelling. The language was one I had never heard before, but the anger and threat in their voices was unmistakable.

Then I saw them. They didn’t come in single file on the path. They were spread out among the trees forming a line intended to cover more ground and make driving and capturing prey easier.

They were the ancient ones, the ancestors, clothed in buckskin, fur, small bones, claws and feathers. They had tanned skin and long, dark, flowing hair. The expression on their faces left no doubt that they were fearsome and dangerous. They were warriors and they were armed with spears, clubs, and axes made with flat, blunt-edged rocks.

None of their weapons contained any metal or modern materials. They were closing in on me and without thinking, I ran back toward the ancient campsite. I knew that if they caught me, they would kill me without hesitation. With every step I ran, the warriors seemed to draw closer.

Finally, I reached the site, and there by the fire pit stood another warrior. He was a giant, at least 14 feet tall. His entire body was wrapped with a large blanket that was draped over his shoulders and the blanket ever so gently brushed the ground. I could not make out his facial features because the sun was shining directly behind him. All I could see was his black silhouette.

I knew that if he moved either to the left or the right, that I would be blinded by the sun streaming behind him. His long hair fell halfway to the ground. A gust of wind would catch and tousle his long strands of hair. There was a gentleness and calmness to the giant dark shape that assured me that it was not threatening. Suddenly, his arms were being outstretched and the blanket transformed into what appeared to be a dark wall. Despite the fact that he had no visible weapon, I was certain that if I could reach him, that I would be safe.

The warriors were still coming toward me in numbers greater than I had initially assessed. Some were close enough to start throwing their weapons at me. I ran toward the figure and wrapped my arms around his waist and waited for death. I looked up but couldn’t see his face. He was drawing the blanket around me in such a way that I seemed to be in a heavily draped circle that was large enough to have a few paces of walking space.

It was also bright in there, like being outside in direct sunlight even though there was no way that the rays of the sun could penetrate this enclosure to reach me. A warm breeze fanned me and softly blew throughout the enclosure to provide even more comfort. But I was still too afraid to release my hold of this stranger.

I could hear the yells and shouts. I could hear the anger in their voices but my protector remained silent. I could see that they were throwing their weapons against the blanket in a futile attempt to extract me. For several minutes the attack continued. I watched with fear as the weapons bounced off the blanket.

In an instant, it became so completely silent that I wondered if I had lost my hearing. I felt the movement of something floating in the air, invisible but present. It was intangible at first but grew stronger with every second. I knew that I was totally and completely safe here and that nothing of man or nature could hurt me no matter how hard they might try.

I was protected. I had never, in my entire life, felt this pure feeling of love, peace, safety, security, and total invincibility. The fear of the pursuers was replaced by the need to hold on to these feelings. The terror was gone and I no longer feared anything or anyone.

Even death was unable to inspire or provoke any fear in me now. I released my hold on my protector and tried to see this growing presence but saw nothing but the glimmering brightness of the enclosure. I never wanted to leave this sacred place. I wanted desperately to hold on to these feelings that were so overwhelming, I would have gladly given up my life to keep them.

It was so completely overpowering that I knew I would never have to miss or worry about those I loved and would be leaving behind. I had the unmistakable impression that this veil of protection would shield my loved ones from harm also. I wanted to stay there forever but somehow knew that I would not be allowed to remain.

I woke up, instantaneously returning from the dream realm. The room was dark and my headache was gone. Like armour, I could still feel the safety and security that had wrapped itself around me. It lasted only for a few more minutes, but I felt it and knew instinctively that I would never feel this again in my lifetime. I knew that no words existed that could clearly describe what I had experienced. I also felt that I had received a great and powerful gift. I thought of it as a blessing.

From this day on, I would heed the messages delivered to me in dreams. The despairing, sickly and frightened child was left behind. From now on, I would face my fears blanketed with something tremendous and powerful.

Photo Essay: Frozen Lakes, Ice Roads, and Unique Opportunities

maria blackhawk - ice roads 1
Honorary Mention of December’s Let It Snow Photo Contest : Sunset : “Frozen Lakes, Ice Roads, and Unique Opportunities” (Photo Credit: Maria Blackhawk)

By: Maria Blackhawk

We are so fortunate to have ready access to area lakes and rivers, especially in winter. We can travel off the highways and on to any of several ice roads. These roads weave their way over and around the islands and shorelines. Your chances of seeing something noteworthy is high.

We live in the digital age, connected by cell phones with the ability to take high resolution photos and videos. There are so many breathtaking images to capture from our everyday surroundings. There is nothing more relaxing than stopping for a moment to take in the scenery and make some observations that would be impossible without the access that ice roads provide.

maria blackhawk - ice roads 3
Honorary Mention of December’s Let It Snow Photo Contest : Wolf Running : “Frozen Lakes, Ice Roads, and Unique Opportunities” (Photo Credit: Maria Blackhawk)

It’s a time to reflect on creation and your place in it. It’s a time to be humble and realize that you are not the center of the universe. You are part of something bigger and more important. It’s a time to be grateful that you are here, at this moment, able to appreciate what many take for granted.

maria blackhawk - ice roads 2
Honorary Mention of December’s Let It Snow Photo Contest : Wolf Running at night: “Frozen Lakes, Ice Roads, and Unique Opportunities” (Photo Credit: Maria Blackhawk)

If you are lucky you may come upon wildlife in its natural habitat. You may find yourself really close to wildlife and feel the excitement of a once-in-a-lifetime, close encounter.

There is great satisfaction in capturing a moment in time that you can share with loved ones. Especially when they share in your excitement and awe. I’ve learned to appreciate the everyday routine travels that can become a spectacular event at any moment.

Maria Blackhawk’s photo essay received Honourary Mention in December’s Let It Snow Photo Contest.

Peter White Goes To Hudson’s Bay Store

By: Allan Crow

Our mama, Kathleen Crow, use to tell us the story of how her father, our grandfather Peter White, went to the Hudson’s Bay store when he was a young man. I can relate to the story of  my grandfather. Possibly many youth today can also relate as they leave home to attend universities for a better life.

He was still single at the time,  just before the 1900s. The store from where we are today known as Whitefish Bay was located far into the north in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, nearly 1,000 kilometers away.  In that time, there were no roads anywhere in the land. The railways had appeared at that time, but nowhere near our area.

My mother had many sisters and brothers; she remembered well the story their father told them.  It was in the summer their father told them that he told his parents he was going to that store way up in the north.  He knew his parents were worried but they did not say anything; they told him to be careful. The store was so far away and it would take a long time to reach it.

He had left alone that summer from the small community, taking only his small rifle and a knife to hunt for food as he went.  Peter said he was lucky he met another young man on the way, and that he too was heading to up north to go see that store they had heard so much about.  They knew it was a company that bought beaver pelts from the natives, and other wild animal furs. Peter and the other youth agreed they would split whatever money they made from the trip.

They collected many pelts along the way.  Although it was cold when the winter came and the terrain was harsh, the young men did not encounter any hardships for they were young, strong men.  They were adept in making shelters, and setting up camp a few days at a time, hunting beavers to sell. The young men took time to prepare the pelts; drying the skins and making pemmican from the meat.  The tools they made along the way were snowshoes, sleds, and bows and arrows.

Still winter, the young men bought horses to carry the food and tools they bought from the Hudson’s Bay Store.  My grandfather, Peter White, returned back home in the summer. He had been away all winter. His parents and the community members were so happy to see him coming home.  He had brought lots of food for the people, salt, pepper, sugar, flour, tea, and coffee. He had also brought hunting tools for the men.

His parents cooked and had a feast that evening with the whole community.  Everyone was so happy.