U of W hosts Weweni Dialogue event

Webinar will look at Indigenous health and COVID-19

On Sept. 23 at 12:30 p.m., the University of Winnipeg (U of W) will host Weweni Dialogue: Indigenous Health and Wellbeing in Times of Pandemic. This online event “will generate discussion across disciplines and time periods to explore the experience of Indigenous peoples during pandemics,” according to its website.

Part of the recurring Weweni Indigenous Speaker Series, this event will feature two panellists, Dr. Carrie Bourassa and Dr. Winona Wheeler from the University of Saskatchewan, with Dr. Jaime Cidro, a U of W professor of anthropology, serving as the moderator.

Dr. Jaime Cidro will moderate the upcoming panel Weweni Dialogue: Indigenous Health and Wellbeing in Times of Pandemic. Supplied photo.

Past Weweni speakers have included Dr. Pam Palmater, Dr. John Borrows, Dr. Mary Jane McCallum and Dr. Melissa Arcand, covering topics from mathematics to climate change.

Cidro, who also serves on the Weweni Indigenous Speaker Series planning committee, explains how COVID-19 influenced the upcoming event.

“When we were looking at the different topics that are relevant to communities and scholars, COVID-19 seemed to be the obvious topic,” she says.

“We know that pandemics have been happening across the world forever, and certainly in Indigenous communities, so we’re wanting Dr. Wheeler to talk to us about (what) the historical context of pandemics have been,” she says. Wheeler is a historian and an associate professor of Indigenous studies. 

Bourassa, the other panellist, has a “good contemporary perspective on what’s happening in Indigenous communities across Canada in terms of how they are responding” to COVID-19, Cidro says.

“She also has a lot of expertise in cultural-based approaches to health,” she says. Bourassa is a professor of community health and epidemiology and scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Indigenous Peoples’ Health.

“We’re hoping she’ll talk about what’s happening right now in Indigenous communities across Canada,” Cidro says.

She believes these events are critical – and must continue, albeit virtually – because highlighting scholarship is paramount to universities’ existence.

Other university groups are also adapting their events due to COVID-19. Sheena Starecki, president of the U of W Anthropology Student Association (UWASA), believes the sense of community created by university groups and activities needs to continue this year.

“We’ve been focusing on making sure we have similar kinds of events and just adapting them either to properly social distance or converting some of our things virtually,” she says. For example, the UWASA is holding a beginning-of-the-year picnic in a park (weather permitting), requiring masks and social distancing.

University students, staff and community members interested in university or university-affiliated events should regularly consult the U of W website, the U of W Students’ Association website and The Uniter.

To register for Weweni Dialogue: Indigenous Health and Wellbeing in Times of Pandemic, visit bit.ly/33h4IjJ. This webinar is free, open to the public and will take place on Zoom.

Published in Volume 75, Number 02 of The Uniter (September 17, 2020)

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