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It has been too long. I have missed writing to you all! I took a break from blogging while I was campaigning in my university elections- an intense 12 day period. I am thrilled to announce that the break paid off and I have been elected the first Anishinabeg Vice President Internal for Dalhousie University’s Student Union! Thank you for staying tuned and I am happy to share that I am back in action and have lots to write about!
This was my first time campaigning, and holy guacamole did I ever learn lots! For 12 days I was traveling across the various Dalhousie campuses engaging with and learning from Dalhousie students. Since I have been working for the university in student engagement the past few years, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the inspiring initiatives students were doing on and off of campus, but after talking to thousands of students I learnt a whole whack more!
A Group you Need to Know About: The Indigenous Health Interest Group!
I had heard of the Indigenous Health Interest Group through a dear friend of mine. Her passion about this group alongside my desire to learn more about Indigenous Health inspired me to learn more about this group. The Indigenous Health Interest Group (IHIG) is a group composed of both Indigenous and non-indigenous students in health-related programs at Dalhousie University making Indigenous health a priority in Atlantic Canada! These folks are motivated to reduce Indigenous health inequities through education, empowerment, advocacy and research. Involvement with IHIG provides non-Indigenous folks with the opportunity to become better informed on Indigenous cultures and health issues. IHIG is driven to develop culturally competent health practitioners and researchers- a necessity in the health care system today.
Through IHIG’s three pillars of action: research, education, and events, this group of committed students help to fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) calls to action both on and off campus.
IHIG has produced three major contributions to research involving Indigenous Health and Wellness.
One: In 2016-2017 IHIG conducted numerous qualitative interviews with professors and staff in Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry, Social Work and Pharmacy. The interviews were used to investigate if professors and staff felt that the content included in current curricula prepared students to deliver culturally competent health care in their fields. The data is currently being analyzed for publication. The lack of substance in current curricula to prepare future health care practitioners to deliver culturally competent health care is being used to design a mandatory Indigenous Health and Wellness module for all first year Nursing, Medicine and Dentistry courses. This research is being presented at conferences across Canada.
Two: Through IHIG, Dalhousie University is the first institution to publish an update since the TRC recommendations came out, with specific calls to action relating to medical school policies. In April, this document will be an available resource for all Canadian medical schools. This document will include all admission information for future Indigenous med school applicants.
Three: In 2017 IHIG created the Mental Health Resource Guide, a tool developed to highlight resources that can be used in replacement of traditional Western approaches to mental health. The guide includes resources specific to Indigenous peoples, African Nova Scotians, refugees, and the LGBTTQQI+ folks.
Co-President of IHIG, Maya Biderman, described education as the most important pillar of the Indigenous Health Interest Group. IHIG has collaborated with Indigenous students to create an introductory presentation on the health and history of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Beyond the delivery of this presentation to Health Profession students at Dalhousie from the 1000-level to 3000-level, IHIG have tailored and presented this lecture to high school students in rural New Brunswick and will present to high school students in Antigonish this May. IHIG offers to come into classes across Dalhousie as guest lecturers to present this presentation.
IHIG members offer support to professions wishing to improve their knowledge base surrounding Indigenous health and well-being. This project resulted in a full year independent study for the co-president, Maya, making curriculum recommendations for the Kinesiology program. These curriculum changes stemming from the consultation with current Indigenous students, current non-Indigenous students, graduate Indigenous students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty, the IHIG curriculum branch, focus groups, the Indigenous Student Centre and DISC, have been accepted as a paper and presentation to the International Federation of National Teaching Fellows Conference.
In addition to these projects, IHIG supports the creation of the new Indigenous Health Course for Medicine, Nursing, and Dentistry. This course includes filmed keynote videos highlighting Indigenous researchers, and groups on campus. And that’s not all! IHIG was used as a resource to provide cultural competency training for the admissions officers at the Dalhousie Medical School before their admissions interview weekend. Just when you thought that was all of IHIG’s work, it’s members managed to create a wonderful, user-friendly website that provides access to their resources!
IHIG have hosted lunch and learn events for the school of Health and the Eagle Kitpu Wise Camp. IHIG is currently working with the Indigenous Medical School team to present a Lecture Series next fall. This series will bring Indigenous physicians, healers, and elders to Dalhousie to hold panel discussions and presentations for students.
Want to Get Involved?
If you are like me and want to get involved with IHIG, these students meet once a month to inform the group at large about upcoming events and projects. At this meeting, a mini lecture from an Indigenous community member is given to teach the group about various Indigenous historical traditions, culture, and news today.
"Don’t really remember when I started with IHIG. I started to follow them around my second year, and got more involved into my third and fourth, taking on more of an advisory role. Currently, I give mini lectures at their monthly meetings on topics surrounding Indigenous health, and usually my own personal research. I really like IHIG because they go beyond being an “interest” society. They engage with Indigenous profs in your university and have done amazing in expanding their outreach beyond the Dalhousie community. The initiative and research they’ve undertaken has and will have significant impacts in our university. Their presence is definitely an added benefit to the Indigenous community in our attempts to address Indigenous issues on campus.” – Aaron Prosper, BSc, 4th year Neuroscience
"Getting involved in IHIG is an amazing opportunity to educate yourself on Indigenous Issues. It is surprising how much there is to learn and how much individuals seek out your knowledge when you become involved in this amazing group. My favourite moment this year has been going into my school to inspire students to get involved in IHIG and ways to educate themselves on Indigenous Issues.” – Adrianna Broussard, BSc, 1st year Diagnostic Ultrasound
Need Another Reason to Get Involved? Check out some other great IHIG Projects:
Indigenous Art Commissions
Support local artists interested in creating art inspired by Indigenous cultures, languages, traditions, and history. Art is used for a variety of purposes: report covers, posters, banners, and conference, website, and promotional material.
Dr. Nadine Caron
Brought Dr. Nadine Caron to deliver a key note to community members, health providers, and students in Halifax. First female Indigenous surgeon in Canada.
Other Projects/ Accomplishments:
Crossroads Interdisciplinary Conference, Worlds Together Panel Discussion, Cindy Blackstock and Philippa Pictou.
I challenge you all to check out IHIG’s website, social media pages, and resources! I have included the link to the wesbite here: https://nicole-doria.squarespace.com All you have to do is click and read!
Happy Friday my lovelies,
Hello kind krafters,
I hope you are all doing well, feeling happy, and enjoying these final weeks of March. This week I want to share with you some of the amazing work executed by our organization. If you are a Dalhousie student I am sure you have heard about the amazing work of the Loaded Ladle on campus. The Loaded Ladle is a levied student society at Dalhousie and a registered food cooperative. The Ladle operates for the students and by the students, providing incredibly delicious plant based meals four days a week to the campus population. The Ladle aims to address global injustices in the food systems by providing local alternatives and getting involved with social action and student engagement on campus.
Every Monday, with the help of the Loaded Ladle, kind krafts hosts a wrap making event in partnership with the Out of the Cold shelter in Halifax. The Out of the Cold shelter is a local volunteer run shelter in Halifax, so individuals in the community donate time and food as support. kind krafts wanted to get involved with this cause by donating food for one meal a week. Operating in a safe and plant based kitchen, the Ladle helps make this weekly work possible by donating their kitchen once a week to the cause. As a result each Monday, kind krafts and wonderful community volunteers come together to make over 30 wraps to be donated. Even more amazing? Most of the ingredients are donated from Burrito Jax!
We are so grateful to Burrito Jax for donating food items every week for our solidarity serving!
The event is pretty incredible, especially given the opportunity it provides for building community relationships and fostering connections here In Halifax. The partnership has been on going for three years now and our team here at kind krafts has been able to see the difference the food has made and understand the role such partnerships have in beginning to address the homelessness situation in Halifax.
As kind krafts Programs Coordinator Jill MacKenzie notes, kind krafts aims to facilitate accessible, inclusive and involved events that engage with the community by supporting various local organizations. The wrap making events offer just that opportunity! And even more incredible kind krafts is actively working to make the event an even greater success by hoping to raise the number of wraps donated each week to over 30, and continue to increase the volunteer team making this process possible.
How Can You Get Involved In This Amazing Event?
Being located on the Dalhousie campus is the lovely Ladle kitchen, student engagement in this event is high and the space is accessible and welcome to all individuals. This event is an excellent way to engage and give back to the Halifax Community.
Every Monday from 2pm-3pm meet the wrap-making team in the Loaded Ladle kitchen located in the Dalhousie Student Union Building at the SUB.
We would love to see you all there! RSVP here!
Thank you to kind krafts and the Loaded Ladle for executing this incredible event!
CW: Civil War in Syria
Hello kind krafters!
I’m sure that many of you are currently aware of the Civil War occurring in Syria and on March 15th it entered the seventh year of conflict. I have heard countless news stories of events happening concerning the war and the refugee crisis but have never done much independent research on the situation. For one of my courses at Acadia this semester, my classmates and I are helping to create awareness of these issues through music. On March 27th there will be a concert raising money for a non-profit organization called The Tribe Projects (formerly known as The Tribe Turkey). The organization is located in Izmir, Turkey and they aim to aid displaced Syrian refugees within the city and the surrounding rural areas with initiatives that promote education, fair working conditions, and access to healthcare. Last year, the previous group of students were able to raise enough money to hire a teacher to work with children in a refugee camp, and we are hoping to continue what they started.
What has happened?
Syria’s Civil War is incredibly complex and continues to become even more intricate as more countries and groups get involved. To try and understand what has happened in the last seven years I have come up with a timeline that mentions a few of the key events that have shaped the war and refugee crisis.
2011 – There were several uprisings occurring in Arab countries that became known as the Arab Spring. These uprisings influenced Syrian activists to peacefully protest in their own country as anti-government demonstrations.
2011 – The first shots were fired under the direction of Bashar al-Assad (current President) killing and imprisoning hundreds of Syrians at these protests.
2011 – The Free Syrian Army (FSA) was created by people who had left the military and the uprising soon became a civil war. Different extremist groups came to back both sides of the civil war and the situation became increasingly more complicated.
2013 – Assad uses chemical weapons against Syrian civilians.
2014 – ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) formed out al-Qaeda and began to overtake territory across Syria.
2014 – The Obama administration targets ISIS instead of Assad’s military groups.
2015 – Russia strikes to attack ISIS but hits the rebels fighting against Assad.
2016 – A ceasefire is put into action to allow for relief organizations to enter and assist civilians.
2016 – The Trump administration targets ISIS but instead, airstrikes hit Syrian soldiers.
2016 – Around 200 airstrikes hit Aleppo in one weekend and near the end of the year, Aleppo is overtaken by Assad and Russia. Aleppo was the last urban centre controlled by the rebels fighting Assad.
2017 – Chemical weapons were used again by Assad on civilians.
2018 – The United Nations unanimously agree on a thirty-day ceasefire in Syria.
These are just a handful of events that have happened over the past seven years. For a more detailed timeline please look at the following links:
The current statistics from Syria shows that this is the largest refugee crisis of our time. Over 11 million Syrians have been displaced with 13.1 million in need of humanitarian assistance. Out of the 11 million displaced Syrians, 5.6 million have fled the country, and 6.1 million are internally displaced (http://www.unocha.org/syria). Here is another timeline of key events that have occurred so far with concerns to the refugee crisis:
2011 – The Refugee Crisis begins as 5000 flee to Lebanon.
2011 – Turkey spent up to $15 million setting up camps for the refugees.
2012 – The United Nations called for a ceasefire and over 2500 Syrians cross into Turkey within one day.
2012 – The fighting in Aleppo resulted in around 200,000 people fleeing into Turkey.
2012 – A bomb killing Assad’s brother-in-law and some of his security officials causes extreme worry among Syrians and thousands cross into Lebanon.
2012 – UNHCR (United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees) reports that over 11,000 Syrians have fled into neighbouring countries in a 24-hour period.
2013 – UNICEF launches #ChildrenofSyria initiative.
2013 – Germany announces that they will resettle 5000 refugees and the following countries follow suit: Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA.
2014 – Jordan closes its borders to Syrian refugees.
2014 – The United Nations needs $16.4 billion to meet the demands of the 2015 Humanitarian Crisis.
2015 – There are more displaced people worldwide than ever before with a record 59.5 million people.
2015 – Around 500,000 Syrians successfully reach Europe by sea with thousands more refugees drowning on the journey.
2016 – Over 100,000 refugees reach Europe in less than two months.
2016 – There is another ceasefire to allow for relief efforts to enter Syria.
2017 – Over 5 million Syrians have fled the county.
2017 – Over 900,000 Syrians have been displaced in this year.
Some more resources to look at concerning the refugee crisis in more detail:
The Tribe Projects
This non-profit organization is made up of an amazing group of people who really give their all to the cause. I have copied in their description from their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thetribeturkey/) below:
“We are a small group of friends living in Izmir, Turkey. We work with displaced Syrians in the city and rural areas to devise sustainable programs. We realised there are gaps in support and we are doing our best to fill them!
There are signs of change in Turkey, but problems exist. Refugees have been given some rights. Access to education and medical support is improving, but limited. In reality, these changes are not well implemented. Language barriers & poor, exploitive working conditions of a mostly informal/illegal market mean economic opportunities are limited for Syrians.
Our core is about social values and we strive to resolve community problems.
Our work is a collaboration. Listening, interviewing and brainstorming the issues with those displaced and marginalised allows us to enact empowering social change. We involve Turkish businesses, international higher education partners, hire Syrian translators and are in constant consultation with those we aim to help.
Follow our story and help us help Refugees living in Turkey.
100% of our donations go back into our projects.”
My class hopes to raise enough money to continue the work started by the previous Acadia students. We would love to have many people attend our benefit concert to support the organization on Tuesday, March 27th at 7pm at Acadia’s Festival Theatre. All of the proceeds from this upcoming concert will go directly to The Tribe Projects, and will make a difference in the lives of these refugee families. If you are unable to attend the concert, please consider donating to the organization! If you are unable to donate, please continue to learn about what is happening in Syria and recognize how it affects us as world citizens.
Thanks for reading, kind krafters!!!
(Photos from The Tribe Projects)
Hello friends! I hope that any students reading this had a lovely reading week and are slowly diving back into courses and their daily routines. My reading week was awesome as I was able to travel to England and visit my family; all of whom I haven’t seen in years! On this trip I was able to think a lot about how important my family is to me and how lucky I am to be so close with them all. My sister and I spent our time mainly surrounding ourselves with the people we love but here were some of my favourite points in the trip…
Singing for the community – On the first Sunday of the trip, I was fortunate enough to be able to perform in front of many members of the family and many other people who are in the community. I rehearsed briefly with an organist in Royal Wootton Bassett and then sang four pieces. My family loved hearing me and I was so thankful to be able to sing for them in person because they are only ever able to listen to recordings of me. Singing a Handel aria is a large step up from singing along to Jump (For My Love) by The Pointer Sisters!
Visiting Marlborough – Not too far away from where I was staying was a market town called Marlborough which I absolutely adored! We window shopped, saw meringue the size of your head, and tried cakes that were much too large. I loved seeing my cousins and having them show me their rooms and awards for school events.
Visiting London – I had the greatest time in London with my sister! We watched The Lion King on the West End and yes, I cried during the opening number and didn’t stop after that. We did a lot of sightseeing and shopped for souvenirs. I found a postcard to put on my wall in almost every shop we went into. We went to the Royal Opera House, Hyde Park, the Wellington Arch, Burlington Avenue, and so many more beautiful places!
As much as I enjoyed doing so many fun activities, what I loved the most was going back to some of my favourite places with my favourite people. I am so fortunate to be able to spend this time with my wonderful family and I will cherish all of the memories we made together on this trip.