Friday, 14 June 2013

Life After 53

By Rachel Bach, 1st year MDP student

Norway House.
Norway House Cree Nation, Manitoba

 The adventure started as Ali and I packed enough bags for 12 weeks, loaded up her car far beyond capacity, and headed north. I was excited to learn that I would be spending the summer in Norway House Cree Nation. However, the reality of it did not seem to fully sink in until we were leaving the city and I was sipping on what I realized would be my last Starbucks latt√© for a long time. After many hours on roads of challenging quality, we passed the 53rd parallel and a sign welcoming us to the north.

Having grown up in a very small town and spending a couple of summers on my reserve in BC, I knew that there would be some adjustments to be made; like to no cell service and no wi-fi. I seem to be adjusting okay so far. Although, one thing that I am not used to, and that I may never get used to, is the constant fear that I will run into a bear every time I go for a walk. I have seen five bears so far, thankfully all from the safety of the car. I have also seen about a dozen bald eagles, three beavers, a mink, a fox, and hundreds of pickerel. Living in such close proximity to nature truly ignites a sense of wonder and appreciation. Now that I have been here for six weeks, I am starting to wonder how it will be adjusting back to city life!

My placement is in the Health Division. The Health Division hosts a variety of programs, including: Child and Maternal Health, Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, Home and Community Care, Medical Transportation, Community Wellness, Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, and more. This placement has been an excellent opportunity for me to learn about the diversity and vast nature of health programming. The remoteness of Norway House certainly creates many challenges. It has been very interesting to see first-hand how these challenges are approached and dealt with. I am very interested in Health Programming and Health Research and would like a career in the health field one day.

Since arriving in Norway House, we have been able to attend different community events like the National Nurse’s Week Appreciation Luncheon and a local “Fish Fry” put on by Chief and Council. We also attended a research summit where researchers from the University of Manitoba came to Norway House to share their findings. They conducted a 5 year project where they explored what everyday life is like for families of children with special needs given the remote location and lack of services. We have also had the opportunity to meet various health workers; including: program managers, the clinic manager and staff, midwives, nurses, and doctors. So far, we have gained experience in program planning and grant writing. We have also been a part of program implementation. We were also able to assist in the planning and coordinating of a workshop for new mothers aimed at encouraging breast feeding and other healthy parenting practices.

So far I have had a wonderful opportunity learning teamwork and building relationships with Indigenous communities which are both important for indigenous research. 

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