Saturday, 14 December 2019

Warm and Welcome as the Sun Shines on Me

By Titima Wanwilaiwan, final year MDP student
I came across Sunshine House Winnipeg in 2018, during the MDP Capstone course. I helped develop an evaluation framework for their program with some classmates. Since then, the relationship has grown and I admired their unique Drop-In program for marginalized community members. This led me to wish to continue working with them.
Kara Passey, Titima, Elijah Osei-Yeobah & Margaret Ormond from Capstone project

In the fall of 2019 my final field placement was with the Sunshine House. What excited me the most was being able to join a professional team and to put into practice my programming development skills on challenging urban community issues. I worked a lot on myself in designing an unique program from a harm-reduction perspective. This helped me to gain insight in regards of discrimination and social exclusion in societies for people living with HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ and people with addiction issues. 
Sunshine House is a community organization, drop-in and a resource centre that works to fill the gap for marginalized community health and well-being, and that focuses on social inclusion and harm reduction.
My role was to conduct research, provide research information, work with the team for the revision of the project proposals and assist in the submission and revisions for grant applications. The first proposal was on the Long-Term Health Impacts of Solvent Use on Immune System. 
Brainstorming session
The second proposal that I was involved was the Managed Alcohol Drop-In program (MAPs). This is a harm reduction approach for people living with severe alcohol dependence who often experience chronic homelessness, which is made worse by over policing, poor access to treatment by the healthcare system, and racism and discrimination issues. During the three month placement, I  reviewed a lot of literature, brain stormed, and discussed with the team members who have insight from a decolonizing framework. I learned from them community-led, holistically thoughtful, and inclusive approaches for developing communities in urban settings.
For many First Nations people, substance use serves as a method of coping with past and present trauma. Many of these traumatic experiences are directly linked to Canada’s history of colonization, which resulted in legal prohibition of Indigenous culture and language, massive social and cultural disruption caused by the establishment of the reserve system, residential school and child-welfare systems.
Buddy needs attention after a long meeting
My final placement came to an end and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Margaret Ormond and Levi Foy (both former and current executive director). They both provided good support, mentorship, and helped me to discover the hidden pictures and invisible communities. My perception of health and well-being is now broader as I recognize how self-determination plays an important role in health and well-being for someone who has been discriminated against, and visible in a way that unaccepted by so called urban society. These lessons will help me to share that love and respect to others in my future work. Again, I learned so much from the community and all of these experiences from the field of urban development among Indigenous community will equip me to be more useful, resourceful and respectful. Meegwetch.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Wardliparringa: Closing Health Gaps the Indigenous Way

By Taylor Wilson, 1st year MDP student

I would first like to acknowledge the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the Adelaide region, where the SAHMRI building is located; I recognize the Kaurna peoples cultural, spiritual, physical and emotional connection with their land. I honor and pay my respects to Kaurna elders, both past and present, and all generations of Kaurna people, now and into the future. I also pay respect to and acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from other parts of Australia, and their connection to country. I want to say thank you to the warm welcome I received from every single Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and non-Indigenous person I have met here and for allowing me to come to their home and work with them.
Wardliparingga Hosts Reconciliation Event
Thank you to Wardliparingga for hosting me for the past few months and all their words of encouragement, guidance for this report, and allowing me to work with them. I would like to thank Dr. Natasha Howard for agreeing to supervise me and set up my work in the unit and making space for me in her busy schedule. I also would like to thank Dr. Karla Canuto for agreeing to co-supervise and being great help with all the edits and advice for the structure of this report. Finally, I would like to thank Professor Alex Brown for agreeing to have me in the unit.
My placement would not be possible without the funding from the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship.
Over the past twelve weeks at Wardliparingga, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute’s (SAHMRI) Aboriginal Research Unit, I’ve had the opportunity to work on their Aboriginal Diabetes Study (ADS). The ADS emerged out of the need to understand the burden, natural history, and complication development of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South Australia. The goals of the study are to understand T2D and is complications, better predict the development of complications of it, improve the delivery of T2D care, and find better preventions.

Wardliparringa Staff Member Tirritpa
gives a tour of River Torrens
The study is one of a kind in that since it’s inception in 2016, it has gathered information from approximately 1200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults 15 years and older across 19 population clusters in South Australia with the goal of 4000 participants. The assessment includes heart, eye and foot check, blood pressure and blood test. Participants are also asked questions about their medical history and lifestyle. Information is treated confidentially, and any immediate health issues are managed by the clinical team. The ADS team has partnered with local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, SA health community clinics, hospitals and other health professionals involved in diabetes care. One of the greater things participants receive when becoming part of the study, which I found was a stand-out, was that they receive free health checks, health information regarding their results, free sunglasses and prescription glasses, as well as referrals to health professionals in their area. The ADS do a great job of ensuring all participants get as much as possible out of participating.

During my time with the ADS team, my job was to observe the team during their data collection in clinics and evaluate their data collection, health promotion, and overall interactions with the participants. My goal was to provide them a comprehensive report on what and how they can do better in interacting and sharing information with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people coming into the study. Overall, I discovered some incredible things. While there were a few areas for improvement on the data collection end, the areas around participant interaction is where I was most in awe. The team is so welcoming, and kind and it was reflected in their interactions. It was clear that they valued the social and emotional well-being of each participant and often went above and beyond to make the study a positive experience.

The team’s passion for care is definitely a result of the unit they work in. Every single person within Wardliparringa handles their respective studies in such a manner, making the unit an exceptionally welcoming hub for Indigenous health research. This may not seem like much, but as we know, there is a long history of general dis-trust of health care systems for Indigenous peoples across the world, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in South Australia, this is no exception. Having a research hub that approaches research from an Indigenous perspective, has Indigenous researchers, research assistants, and medical professionals, and focuses on health topics important to their Indigenous population is incredibly important for closing all kinds of gaps.

I couldn’t have been more lucky to be welcomed into such an environment for my placement. I encourage anyone reading this to keep an eye out for Wardliparringa and all the great things they will do in the future.

Taylor giving her final report presentation

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Representation and Voices in Reconciliation

By Ashley Saulog, 1st year MDP student
As we get ready for a new school year, I am reflecting on 12 week international placement in Adelaide, Australia with Reconciliation South Australia. Through my placement I have been honoured to travel to different communities all over South Australia to witness the celebrations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culture, and the truth-telling of the history of colonialism and the intergenerational impacts of Australia’s First People.
A Welcome to Country ceremony for students
An important document and important historical milestone in Indigenous Australians was the Uluru Statement from The Heart. In 2017, a gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders representatives took place at the Uluru to discuss the constitutional reform needed to bring self-determination back into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The 3 main elements include 1) Constitutional Change that involves empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in the Australian Constitution; 2) Makarrata Commission meaning the “coming together after a struggle” to guide decision-making in government; and 3)The Makarrata Commission would include truth-telling about Australia’s colonial history.
ActNow Theatre group an me
Cross-culturally, the Uluru Statement from the Heart is applicable to social changes towards a reconciliation journey in Australia and Canada. Structural and individual racism is still a challenge towards building respectful relationships between indigenous peoples. Reconciliation SA is conscious that working with a decolonial perspective against structural and individual racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and newcomers from Asia and the Middle East. I feel that The Generation of Change program is a program is an excellent way of involving an arts-based approach to creating conversations with youth in an encouraging and safe space to address lived experiences in racism and educating youth. I think that the Generations of Change of Change program would see great success if it was implemented in Winnipeg. In my work with youth, arts-based approaches I find in the public sector should be utilized to encourage truth-telling through storytelling.
To close, I want to thank Reconciliation South Australia for hosting me for three months. Through this experience in Australia, I never expected to travel to amazingly beautiful landscapes and meet the warmest locals. I truly am so grateful for the opportunity of personal growth in values and in development skills. Reconciliation South Australia truly allowed me to apply the theories and learnings from the MDP program into practice when engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Maraming salamat. Thank you.
Reconciliation South Australia staff

Friday, 20 September 2019

Disaster Management and Mitigation – My experience with the International Organization on Migration in Dominica

By Rachael Kalaba, 1st year MDP student

Racheal and the IOM Dominica country team
As I write this paper, I take the opportunity to thank the International Organization on Migration (IOM) and Dominica Red Cross for having supported and welcomed me. I had a fantastic opportunity to interact and work with two organizations as part of my MDP international placement.
The IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. Furthermore, the work is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals that support communities to be more resilient in disaster risk management. IOM Dominica has been working on restoring communities and livelihoods with an emphasis on disaster risk reduction strategies (DRR). The 2017 Hurricane Maria destroyed 95% of houses and livelihoods in Dominica. One of the challenges was realizing that many families affected by Hurricane Maria remain in tents, makeshift shelters, emergency shelters, with host families, in inadequately repaired structures and/or in unsuitable locations. IOM was able to support renovation of emergency shelters across Dominica and I was privileged to have been part of the last phase of the project.
Former Kalinago Chief at a community engagement meeting
I learned a lot in terms of how IOM is working closely with all stakeholders, government and other humanitarian organizations in Dominica, in handing over the renovated shelters and supporting to internally displaced families. IOM in its quest to support DRR work was able to launch a handbook for emergency shelters managers. I was able to work closely with the IOM staff on their daily tasks.  
Disaster risk reduction cuts across different sectors of development. There are 25 targets related to disaster risk reduction in 10 of the 17 SDGs, firmly establishing the role of disaster risk reduction as a core development strategy, IOM Dominica through its work has been able to create most of the works through interventions such as trainings livelihood, production of handbooks and renovation of houses and emergency shelters across the country.
Launch of Emergency shelters
My encounter with Red Cross was more about understanding of community-led emergency disaster plan for the Kalinago Territory and how this can be established. Furthermore, my interest was developed through my work as a volunteer under the disaster management team as a responder with the Canadian Red Cross in Winnipeg. I worked briefly with Red Cross and though their support and working with the Kalinago Territory. One of the achievements of working with Red Cross led to opening of the Kalinago Territory Branch. In understanding that we are there to work with the community, using the Red Cross methodology of community-led planning.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

It’s all relational

By Chelsie Parayko, 2nd year MDP student
As my time in Aotearoa came to an end, I reflected on the experiences I’ve had over the two field placements that we are required to complete. Some of the most valuable lessons and knowledge came from those experiences, however the relationships I have formed are ones that will last beyond the walls of academia. Below is the post:
Last summer I learned a Cree word – Kiwícéwákan, it roughly translates to “the one you walk with.” Beyond the simple English translation, in Cree this word means more than to simply walk but to journey, to connect, to have meaningful relations with another person or persons. I learned this word while completing my domestic field placement for my master’s in Development Practice: Indigenous Development program, from a beautiful Cree woman who seemingly understood what was happening in my life before I knew it myself. The word rings true in certain spaces I have occupied and is something that has been dancing through my mind in recent.
As a child I wanted to sink into the masses. At the time, this meant lathering my body with sunscreen and restricting the hours I spent outside in the sun to avoid being “too brown.” I was terrified of having the conversation around who my ancestors are, and what that meant among my peers. I knew that, at that time, being identified as Indigenous or as Cree that I would be treated differently, perhaps treated like a second-class citizen. It has taken a lot of uncomfortable moments to shift my own perspective and my journey of unlearning is only at the beginning. Surrounding myself with other Indigenous peoples who celebrate their ways of knowing is critical to my own wellbeing and is why I was attracted to Aotearoa.
These pivotal moments are one of the most spirit awakening, however they are often the path-less-taken, and rather lonely within western academic walls. Carved by our strongest ancestors, these journeys today are what I believe to be my greatest responsibility. There are movements that have been radical in shaping the atmosphere that Indigenous peoples in Canada, however from a smaller scale we more often see individuals taking the lead in resurging our ways of knowing and being, unsupported. My own experiences have held true to this fact.
It has been one of the most refreshing and awe-inspiring things to be among the whānau at Waipareira who, for lack of better words, just get it. Making space for Indigenous ways of knowing and being is embedded in the everyday practices and is certainly something that I will take home as one of the most profoundly key elements of success for the iwi.
Reflecting on my experience in Aotearoa, within the MDP program and beyond I cannot help but be incredibly proud at the people I have met along the way and for those who have launched down this journey with me. People like my sister who have, unapologetically taken on roles not traditionally held by women to ensure that our traditions are not lost. Teams like those at Waipareira who make space for Indigenous ways of knowing regardless of the dominant western systems and structures. I am so grateful to call these people my whānau. There are not enough words to begin to extend the gratitude I have for this opportunity. Ekosani for being Kiwícéwákan!” 
Connections and relationships are everything. As an Indigenous person it has been taught to me that everything is relational, and through these two placements the lesson has been incredibly solidified. These relationships span across oceans and land, to the animals and the plants, to the stars and back. So much to be thankful for.
(L-R) Sneha Lakhotia, Cate Mentink, Chelsie Parayko, Tanya Allport and Haze White

[1] Parayko, C. (2019). Ekosani for being kiwicéwákan. Retrieved from

Saturday, 7 September 2019

A placement that made me feel like I belonged

By Henok Alemneh, 1st year MDP student

As part of the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA) broader advocacy strategy to promote research and development projects that emphasize the rights of Indigenous peoples in tourism, one of my roles involved planning and organizing a seminar on ‘Tourism Industry Engagement with Indigenous Peoples as Rights-Holders’. 

The seminar aimed at raising the profile of WINTA and its Indigenous Tourism Engagement Framework (ITEF) to a diverse audience that was comprised of people from academia, tourism bodies, NGOs and government. The project was realised through collaboration among WINTA, Victoria University of Wellington and Kapiti Island Nature Tours. Victoria University collaborated by hosting me as a visiting master’s scholar and by integrating our seminar into the University’s School of Management Seminar Series. Dr. Christian Schott, a Senior Lecturer at the University, contributed by coordinating these and serving as a chair for the seminar. Mr. John Barrett, who is the Managing Director and Founder of Kapiti Island Nature Tours, collaborated by presenting on the seminar and sharing practical information on an earlier WINTA facilitated project that involved his community.   
Part of the organizing team:
L-R: Dr. Christian Schott, Henok & Johnny Edmonds

My work on the project started by putting together a project outline following initial meeting we had with the organizing team and continued through regular consultation with my supervisor Johnny Edmonds, Director, WINTA. Being given the responsibility to coordinate the seminar taught me how to perform such tasks independently and at the same time make effective use of the team environment and support system available. The knowledge and experience I obtained from my studies and lessons I learned from our previous Kapiti Island project was very helpful in planning and organizing the seminar.

The planning activities for the seminar involved designing the presentations in a way that respects and integrates Maori/Indigenous protocols, methodologies and literature. The presentations were also designed to encourage active engagement of seminar participants through sharing of practical information, a handout provided with key information, use of relevant pictures and diagrams, posters, and through a discussion and Q&A session. Arranging venue & date, writing the seminar abstract, project report & evaluation, organizing promotion, invitation & webinar delivery options, preparing forms, slides, notes & other documents, and presenting on the seminar are also among the activities that provided me with tremendous learning, networking and professional development opportunities. Through these experiences, I was able to improve my research and project management skills and learned how things happen in the real world of development work.
Henok presenting on WINTA's ITEF
One of the major tasks during the planning phase of the project was building on WINTA’s concept of ITEF, a roadmap being developed to enhance respectful engagements between Indigenous communities and all other key players in Indigenous tourism based on the Larrakia principles of respect, consultation, empowerment, partnership, community benefit and protection. A diagram was designed to illustrate the key foundational components of the engagement framework and a paper describing the concepts was written with the information being made available for potential use and improvements.   This task required a review of literature and identifying issues and gaps as it relates to rights-based Indigenous tourism. I also did a review of WINTA’s documents that are of relevance to the particular focus of the seminar. These tasks taught me different set of skills for engagement in research activities.
Seminar participants
Overall, the projects I have been engaged in are vital in providing roadmaps and strengthening the foundational work which will be built on through subsequent projects in various parts of the world through WINTA’s team and global network. One of the initial steps we have taken for the purpose of a wider promotion and feedback on WINTA’s rights-based approach to tourism was to create a webinar video of the seminar presentation. This is expected to be shared through WINTA’s global network. I obtained great experiences from the planning and implementation of this seminar project. Moreover, the core values of the organization and the responsibilities I was entrusted with made me feel I belonged. I am very grateful for the incredible support of WINTA and its director, University of Winnipeg, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship, Victoria University of Wellington and all individuals and organizations that I haven’t mentioned by name.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Recapturing economic leakage at Northern Manitoba

By Elijah Osei-Yeboah, 2nd year MDP student
In Manitoba, development is uneven, favouring the south. One strategy the province intends to adopt to correct this imbalance is recapturing economic leakage ― reducing the expenditure on goods and services accessed outside the north. Currently, many countries and communities believe free trade promotes economic growth, therefore, it is impossible to avoid leakage entirely. Hence, the goal is to reduce it. An economic development forum was organized in Thompson April 9 – 10, 2019 for northern development stakeholders like economic development officers, chiefs, councillors and other staff of municipalities. This was seen as an opportunity to gather preliminary data for reducing leakage.
There were 100 respondents. They were given sticky notes to indicate the goods they bought outside the north, why they bought them, if they were accessible online, which new businesses can be easily established and the ones which can quickly accelerate northern economic growth. The sample size and non-probability techniques adopted (convenience and purposive) are not statistically significant but the findings can be a part of preliminary studies to recapture leakage. 
When I started my placement, the data had been gathered. My assignment was to enter and analyze the data and write a report on it. I analyzed the data with Microsoft Excel and presented the findings with charts and tables.  Some of the findings were that the two most accessed goods and services were (a) clothing and accessories, and (b) recreation, entertainment and sports (examples include electronics, events, hunting/ fishing/ camping and recreation vehicles/ equipment). The main justification for shopping outside the north was that the goods they needed were unavailable locally. Less than a quarter (22%) of the respondents purchased their goods online. Online shopping is very convenient but it is fraught with problems including delivering wrong products, items sometimes do not fit well, consumers often pay for shipping, etc. 
Elijah in front of the Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade office