Pewaseskwan (the Indigenous Wellness Research Group) is co-led by Dr. Alexandra King (Nipissing First Nation) and Prof. Malcolm King (Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation). They started the research group in 2015 while working at Simon Fraser University (SFU), on the unceded territories of the xwməθkwəyə̓m (Musqueam), Sḵwxw̱ ú7mesh (Squamish), and səli̓lwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Research is centred on Indigenous people and their health and wellness needs and is culturally responsive and imbued with Indigenous methodologies and ceremony. On October 16, 2017, Dr. King became the inaugural Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellness at the University of Saskatchewan (USask). The research group expanded into Treaty 6 territory, where it was gifted the name Pewaseskwan (Cree for “the sky is clearing”).
Some of those early SFU-based projects have evolved into similar projects in Misâskwatômina (Saskatoon) or have follow-up projects in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Many more projects are from grants awarded since 2017 for research in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, BC and other regions. They included disease-specific research grants and others more focused on land- and culture-based healing and knowledge. Pewaseskwan has had great success, including securing millions of dollars in research grants and doing innovative research guided by etuaptmumk (Two-eyed Seeing) and Ethical Space, establishing formal ties with Indigenous political organizations and creating partnerships with Indigenous communities and organizations. The team is setting new nationally-recognized standards for how research with Indigenous peoples and communities is done, and increasing Indigenous health research capacity.
October – Alexandra King joined USask as Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellness
November – Alexandra co-chaired the International Group on Indigenous Health Measurement Conference
January – A pipe ceremony was held to start work in a good way
February – Alexandra co-chaired the Social, Cultural, Environmental and Population Health session at the 7th Canadian Symposium on HCV
September – Alexandra chaired the 7th International Symposium in Hepatitis Care in Substance Users workshop
November – Alexandra was a keynote speaker at Australian National University: Inaugural Indigenous health and medicine Symposium, Canberra, Australia
May – Alexandra co-chaired the Canadian AIDS/HIV Research (CAHR) Conference
June – A pipe ceremony was held to form the Cameco Chair Management Committee
September – Alexandra co-chaired the Scientific Committee at the 2nd World Indigenous Cancer Conference
October – An Île-à-la-Crosse Community Gathering was held with Pewaseskwan in Saskatoon
December – Pewaseskwan held a strategic planning session in Saskatoon
March – The COVID-19 pandemic meant the team began working remotely
April – We launched the Pewaseskwan Journal Club (later renamed Learning Circle)
June – Alexandra was an invited keynote speaker at WHO: Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programmes, Geneva
November – Alexandra chaired the first World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis (WIPCVH) virtual mini conference
April – Waniska Centre pipe ceremonies were held to start work in a good way with community partners
April – We held a virtual strategic planning session
May – Alexandra was the clinical co-chair at the 2021 Canadian Association for HIV Research (CAHR) Conference
May – Alexandra was the keynote presenter on Indigenous ways and methodologies at the 2021 Alaska Indigenous Research Program
June – Alexandra co-presented a keynote talk at the The Neuromuscular Disease Network for Canada webinar
June – We held the Waniska Centre launch on National Indigenous People’s Day
September – We moved into new office space in USask Health Sciences Building, E-Wing
September – Alexandra gave a keynote presentation at New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization (NDRIO) on National Truth and Reconciliation Day
November – Alexandra chaired the second World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis virtual mini conference
November – Pewaseskwan signed the Waniska MOU with the FSIN Health Secretariat
November – We held the Sask Stories HIV/HCV Conference at Whitecap Dakota First Nation
March – We held a strategic planning session in Saskatoon
May – Alexandra co-chaired the Population Health Research session at the 11th Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C Virus
May – Alexandra gave the keynote presentation on etuaptmumk (Two-eyed Seeing) at the 2022 Alaska Indigenous Research Program
June – Alexandra chaired the 2022 World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis
June – Pewaseskwan signed an MOU with FSIN’s Saskatchewan First Nations Women’s Commission (SFNWC)
August – Alexandra co-chaired the Indigenous Development Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) Gathering in Vancouver
Pewaseskwan – Cree, meaning the sky is starting to clear, it is clearing up. This could be metaphoric.
“We Indigenous people are moving towards clearing up our own understandings, standing on those foundations that were almost completely destroyed by the colonizers … and then starting to use Indigenous knowledges to improve our own quality of life as well as for others” (Stan Wilson, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Professor, University College of the North, Manitoba).
The logo reflects Saskatchewan landscapes, including northern water and trees, and fields of green and gold below. The colours also tie in with the official University of Saskatchewan colours. The logo was designed by Megan Currie of X-ing Design, an Indigenous design company in Regina.
Most of our team lives and works on Treaty 6 territory and the Homeland of the Métis. The original peoples of these lands are the Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, and Métis. Others are based in Vancouver, on the unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. We encourage everyone, wherever they are, to learn about the Indigenous people of the lands on which they live and work. We seek to become engaged allies together. In the spirit of truth and reconciliation, we respect the self-determination of First Nations, Métis and Inuit – in their cultures, languages and their pursuit of wellness.
© 2023 Pewaseskwan (the Indigenous Wellness Research Group) | Office of the Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellness, University of Saskatchewan.