Poo'miikapii: Niitsitapii Approaches to Wellness is centered in Niitsitapii (Blackfoot) ways of knowing, being, and doing in relation to poo'miikapii (harmony, balance, unity). Drawing on ground breaking theory and practice in Indigenizing and decolonizing approaches to wellness and counselling, these courses involve in-depth exploration of Niitsitapii approaches to wellness: aksistoiypaittapiisini (being resourceful in the face of challenges) in Indigenous communities, iskaipima (guiding people onto a better path) in service provision and education, and iihpkim mootspi (passing on the teachings one has received) through community-based program and organizational development.
This offering is a direct response to the recommendations of The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP; 1995), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC; 2015), and a growing body of scientific literature calling for community-based approaches to wellness that address health disparities among Indigenous peoples in culturally relevant ways (e.g., Fellner, 2016; John, 2004; Linklater, 2014; McCormick, 1996; Waldram, 2008). Of note, the four courses in this topic address a number of the TRC calls to action, including: recognizing the value of Indigenous healing practices and implementing them in collaboration with Elders and healers (#22), increasing Indigenous health professionals and providing cultural competency training for professionals working with Indigenous peoples (#23), and providing an Indigenous health course in a post-secondary health program (#24). The courses also aim to address the call for Indigenous healing centres that address the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical harms related to colonization (#21) through engaging students in a service-learning project aimed at community-based program development and design that addresses the holistic wellness needs of local Indigenous peoples. Further, this topic is a direct response to identified community needs among the local Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot/Blackfeet) communities, with specific knowledges and practices based in Kainai. This topic reflects a working collaboration between the University of Calgary and Red Crow Community College. The topic overview, goals, and course descriptions have been developed by a council of Niitsitapii Elders and community members from the Kainai reserve, in collaboration with the academic coordinator.
This program will take place face-to-face off-campus. Courses will take place both outside on the land at the Kainai reserve, on Traditional Blackfoot Territory in southern Alberta, and using classroom space provided by Red Crow Community College in Standoff. Courses will take place in summer, fall, and winter semesters. The use of seasons is intentional given the seasonal nature of Niitsitapii approaches to wellness. Please see more detailed information below regarding dates and delivery for individual courses.
Students in this topic will:
- develop an understanding of Niitsitapii approaches to wellness and poo'miikapii (harmony, balance, unity) through active participation and engagement in these approaches with local Niitsitapii knowledge holders;
- develop an understanding of Niitsitapii approaches to wellness through learning relevant concepts and material in the local Niitsitapii language;
- work with community Elders and knowledge holders to facilitate learning and appropriate application of Niitsitapii approaches to wellness;
- learn how to approach their work with Indigenous communities from a decolonizing understanding that honours the ancestral, collective, and personal knowledges and wisdom that emerge through experiences of trauma and colonization;
- learn how to apply Niitsitapii approaches, which are "all my relations," land-based, strength-based, culturally relevant, and historically sensitive, to service provision and practice to facilitate transformation, harmony, balance, and wellness in Indigenous communities;
- learn how to apply Niitsitapii approaches to wellness in their own self-care as providers working with Indigenous communities;
- explore concrete ways that Niitsitapii approaches to wellness may be applied in moving toward poo'miikapii (harmony, balance, unity), social and environmental justice, and reconciliation among diverse communities on Turtle Island; and
- work with community members and/or organizations to develop ways of working that directly address community needs through applying Niitsitapii approaches to wellness.
This four-course topic is designed for service providers, educators, health care professionals, and other community members who are currently working or planning to work with Indigenous communities.
A registration package will be sent to new students after they have been admitted. Registration for the summer term will be available in late winter. Fall and Winter registration opens in the spring. Your Graduate Program Administrator will send more information about registration to you.
Fee details are available through the University Calendar. An explanation of fees is available on the Faculty of Graduate Studies' website.
The University of Calgary offers multiple ways to meet the cost of your education. Please refer to the Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries page to learn more about options available to students. For additional information, please contact Student Financial Support.
Program Schedule & Course Descriptions
- Program begins each July (summer term 1)
- Outlines are normally available 1-2 weeks prior to the start of term in D2L
- 3 units per course
Term 1 - Summer
Niitsitapii: Foundations for Wellness
This course will introduce students to what it means to be Niitsitapii (a person of truth) as a foundation for personal and collective wellness. Elders and knowledge holders from the Kainai Nation will engage students in Niitsitapii practices that promote emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental wellness, with a focus on those practiced in the summer. Students will be introduced to cultural protocols for ceremonial and cultural engagement, and will explore the relevance of these protocols to their work with communities. The course will be delivered using traditional Niitsitapii pedagogical practices of experiential learning, oral knowledge sharing, and cultural mentorship. Students will also engage in scholarly learning that draws upon relevant academic sources.
Term 2 - Fall
Aksistoiypaittapiisinni & Iskaipima
This course will focus on aksistoiypaittapiisinii (being resourceful in the face of challenges) and iskaipima (guiding people onto a better path) in service provision and education. Aksistoiypaittapiisinii will be applied in deconstructing conventional Western Eurosettler conceptualizations of trauma-as-pathology, instead honouring people's experiences of challenges as intergenerational and collective conversations that guide Indigenous people, families, and communities toward poo'miikapii (harmony, balance, unity) and social and environmental justice. Such approaches honour Indigenous survivance, including the ancestral, collective, and personal knowledges and wisdom that emerge through difficult experiences. Students will learn how to draw upon their learnings in the Niitsitapii (person of truth) and poo'miikapii courses to bring an "all my relations," land-based, strength-based, culturally relevant, and historical sensitive approach to their work. This course will further introduce students to iskaipima, and other Indigenous approaches to counselling that may be directly applied in service provision and education with communities.
EDPS 693.24 S04 (3440)
Term 2 - Fall
Poo'miikapii: Collective Unity, Harmony, and Balance
This course will expand upon what students have learned about being Niitsitapii through exploring how poo'miikapii (harmony, balance, unity) may be fostered in Indigenous communities. Elders and knowledge holders from the Kainai Nation will engage students in Niitsitapii practices that promote emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental wellness, with a focus on those practiced in the fall and winter. Students will continue learning cultural protocols for ceremonial and cultural engagement, and will explore the relevance of these protocols to their work with communities. The course will be delivered using traditional Niitsitapii pedagogical practices of experiential learning, oral knowledge sharing, and cultural mentorship. Students will also engage in scholarly learning that draws upon relevant academic sources. Note: This course is a half-time course that runs over two semesters.
EDPS 693.25A S01 (6623)
Term 3 - Winter
Iihpkim Mootspi: Capstone
This course will engage students in iihpkim mootspi (passing on the teachings one has received) through a service-learning project that involves working with a community group or organization to bring Niitsitapii approaches to wellness into their work. This project will be informed by students' learning throughout each of the courses, and through engagement with relevant academic sources. The course will introduce students to how to bring Niitsitapii ethics, standards, and practices into their programs, and will involve students in learning how to navigate colonial systems (e.g., funding, educational standards, health care systems) so as to prioritize community and ceremonial protocols and ways of knowing, being, and doing in their work. This course provides students with the opportunity to engage with a community group or organization in an applied project that has a direct and immediate benefit to the community.
Course delivery: exact schedules will be available in the course outline. In the past, this course ran on the first and third Saturdays (approximately) of each month during the winter for 6 hours (3 hours in the morning, 3 in the afternoon).
EDPS 693.26 S05 (5716)
EDPS 693.25B S01 (6648)