Apihkatatan (Weaving Our Baskets)

Apihkatatan (Weaving our Baskets): Intersectional trauma-healing and wisdom is led by Dr. Alexandra King, MD, FRCPC, Nominated Principal Investigator (NPI) and primary supervisor to graduate students involved. Co-investigators of the project include Elder Sharon Jinkerson-Brass with Pewaseskwan (the Indigenous Wellness Research Group) and Alana Cattapan, an adjunct professor at USask, Jamesy Patrick, a child welfare lawyer. This research focuses on Indigenous women whose lived experience includes involvement with the criminal justice system (CJS) and it supports their wholistic wellness journeys.

A life course approach is used to investigate the gender-specific strengths and needs of Indigenous women with CJS lived experience. The research is collaboratively designed and evaluated through a wholistic healing and wellness program grounded in cultural, traditional and expressive therapy.

This project uses a land and culture-based healing curriculum which includes expressive therapies and arts-based methods that are grounded in a Saskatchewan context. The wellness intervention reclaims Indigenous knowledges and emphasizes knowledge to action. There are two components of the curriculum: The Spirit of Our Bundles and Food is Sacred. Key principles that are reflected within the curriculum include:

  • Sacred food and plants

  • Sacred knowledge

  • Connectedness

  • Creativity

  • Storytelling

  • Wise practices

  • Nurturing

  • Wisdom

The logo for Apihkatatan was greatly inspired by our participants as Indigenous women. There are several sacred teachings involved within the logo, including the sacred medicine sweetgrass and tobacco. It is important to note that these teachings take time to learn, and this is an overview of these teachings. Women represent the foundation of family and community, and women’s teachings instill positive values and living life in a good way, they are significant to the responsibilities we carry to share with next generations, and to bring balance into our lives. Grandmother Moon is a women’s teaching and Grandmother Moon brings healing and balance to women, and there are diverse teachings connected to Grandmother Moon and to honour this relationship. The strawberry we see on the logo is often referred to as the heart berry and is a woman’s medicine. In Indigenous culture, berries hold cultural significance, impact women’s wellbeing and teach women about creation, community and love. We also see strawberries along the hem of the woman’s dress. The colour yellow symbolizes joy and new beginnings, which we see as resonating with the living experiences of our participants within our project. Lastly, we see elements of flowers and bees, which further relates to our connection to land and culture-based healing within Apihkatatan.

This project parallels the CIHR-funded Stamsh Slhanay Lhawat II, which focuses on Indigenous women in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver, and as such, will enjoy significant benefits in knowledge sharing and exchange. Knowledge Holders and Indigenous scholars will ensure activities are appropriately contextualized, linked, laddered, and culturally safe and responsive.

For more information, please contact pewaseskwan@usask.ca