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Home » For All » New Partnership to provide Indigenous Teachings to WRHA Staff 

New Partnership to provide Indigenous Teachings to WRHA Staff 

Collaboration underway with Clan Mothers Healing Village to co-develop education and resources on Indigenous Teachings

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Friday, February 9, 2024

As part of a commitment to offering culturally safe care to all patients, clients and residents, the Winnipeg Health Region has partnered with Clan Mothers Healing Village. As a result of this collaboration, health care professionals and other WRHA staff are able to learn about Indigenous teachings, giving them the knowledge to offer these practices to our patients. 

Indigenous Health worked with Clan Mothers to co-develop this approach to ensure that the care being delivered within the region is patient-centred. "We hear a lot from staff caring for Indigenous patients that they want to learn more about traditional teachings because patients and families are asking for these practices when they visit our hospitals," says Faye Tardiff, Education and Training Coordinator for Indigenous Health. "Through this partnership, we are able to offer our staff various educational sessions, as well as experiences such as medicine picking and sweat lodge teachings." 

In summer of 2023, Clan Mothers took a group of staff members from the WRHA to a number of areas just outside Winnipeg to learn about medicine picking and smudging and why it's so important within Indigenous culture. One such medicine is sage.  According to Tardiff, "Sage is used to cleanse and detoxify, so you will see it used in smudge and the smoke is used basically to cleanse ourselves of negative energy and negative thoughts. To put ourselves in a good frame of mind to do the things that we need to do." 

Part of offering culturally safe care is ensuring staff know where to access Indigenous teachings and practices for their patients. "If patients ask to participate in a sweat or ask to smudge because it gives them comfort, we want to be able to offer that to them," says Faye Tardiff. "It's important that we understand that these teachings are accessible to everyone. It's not just meant for Indigenous people only. We want to open the door with love and with respect, and build those connections for people." 

Clan Mothers Healing Village uses an Indigenous model of healing and education that is focused on matrilineal values. Claire Friesen, who is the Knowledge Centre Coordinator at Clan Mothers Healing Village says, "We are governed by a group of women elders from all across Turtle Island. And there is so much knowledge within our governance structure that the WRHA is really hoping to be able to knowledge share, so that we can look at ways of integrating more holistic methodologies into a more western framework." 

An advisory circle is also being created to help guide the work of Indigenous Health Education and Training. Members of Clan Mothers Healing Village will be part of this circle to help aid in the development of content for future educational workshops and training. "The guidance Elders and traditional knowledge keepers bring is essential to understanding the traditional practices of Indigenous People," says Bonita Kehler, Interim Regional Director for Indigenous Health. "We want to be able to open doors and look at ways of integrating more holistic methodologies into the care delivered by WRHA staff." 

With Clan Mothers being the voice of many community members, the region also hopes to learn more about people's experiences within the healthcare system, and how we can improve upon the care we deliver. "We recognize the importance of connecting with the Indigenous community in the spirit of reconciliation, and breaking down barriers to equitable access to health care," says Mike Nader, CEO of WRHA. "We are committed to making strides to breaking down those barriers by developing health services that better meet the needs of the Indigenous community." 

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