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Indigenous Medicine Workshop

Mon. Apr. 18, 2016

Osh Ki ma chi say (New Beginning):

Conversations with Elders on Indigenous Medicine and Science

Participants at the Indigenous Medicine WorkshopFrom left: David Henrichs, Manitoba Metis Federation; Jacqueline Romanow, Chair of Department of Indigenous Studies; Jason Dyck, Mennonite Central Committee; Elder David Daniels; Leann Daniels, community member, Long Plain First Nations (photos supplied)

The Indigenous Studies Department with the support of, and in collaboration with, the Office of the VP Indigenous Affairs and the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) organized a workshop focussed on bridging Indigenous medicinal knowledge and elders with science and academy. The workshop was held on February 12, 2016 in the Richardson College Atrium and was attended by 45 participants including 17 students, 11 elders, nine faculty members, five representatives from senior administration, seven practitioners/community-based institutional representatives, and three young apprentice healers.

Talking circle at Indigenous Medicine WorkshopIn an informal talking circle format, participants identified challenges including the following:

  • differential worldviews and interests between many western-trained academics and Indigenous knowledge holders,
  • diverse worldviews and perspectives among Indigenous medicinal knowledge holders themselves, and
  • a lack of sensitivity and understanding of appropriate cultural protocols in recognizing and incorporating learning from Indigenous medicinal plant knowledge into formal curriculum.


Participants acknowledged that respect and recognition of the holistic and spiritually-embedded nature of Indigenous medicinal knowledge are needed. As well, they suggested that active partnerships need to be cultivated with willing elders in order to determine the ways and means by which Indigenous knowledge can be brought into academic settings.

The participants also shared ideas and issues that an academic institution like the University of Winnipeg should take into account for respectful braiding of Indigenous knowledges into curriculum. One suggestion was the development of a new Masters program, or the modifying existing programs, at UWinnipeg by recognizing elders as active mentors and guides in student thesis/practicum. Many elders also expressed the importance of having similar workshops and conversations on this topic in the future.

Dr. Shailesh ShuklaDr. Shailesh Shukla (left in photo) is assistant professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies. His teaching and research interests include indigenous knowledge systems, indigenous and traditional foods, food sovereignty, ethnoecology, participatory governance, community-based conservation, intergenerational transmission and learning within indigenous knowledge systems, critical social science and mixed research methods.