330kms south east of Saskatoon was a small village, Fort Qu’Appelle. Translating to ‘who calls?’ the area is located within a stunning valley that holds a rich and vibrant history. Here, the All Nations Healing Hospital provided us with an insight into the true integration of western and Indigenous medicine. The incorporation of traditional Indigenous natural medicines for patients undergoing renal dialysis, explained to us by a First Nations elder, demonstrated successful fusion of the two forms of medicine. From my experience I learnt that to many people, health is so much more than having a perfect hospital chart. Spirituality, family and community is most often of highest concern. This teaching I will remember when working in Australia where numerous parallels run between the two Nation’s Indigenous populations.
The First Nations people say “miyo maskihkiy”, meaning ‘to practice good medicine’. I truly believe I witnessed the essence of patient-centred care and ‘good medicine’ whilst in Saskatchewan.
To me, the passion, empathy and genuine love for the medicine being practiced and community being served, demonstrated by the doctors we worked with, was just as inspirational and motivational as the medicine itself.
It showed me how important it is to find an area of medicine which inspires and excites you in order to practice ‘good medicine’, “miyo maskihkiy”. A final lesson that has stuck with me is the fourteen First Nations’ laws and teachings. Each is represented by one of the fourteen poles of the ‘tipi’; obedience, respect, humility, happiness, love, faith, kinship, cleanliness, thankfulness, sharing, strength, good child rearing, hope, ultimate protection and control flaps. Together, the teachings resonate the true foundations of strength, meaning and value which I will endeavour to apply to today’s living.
I feel most privileged to have had an opportunity so incredible and diverse as our Saskatchewan adventure. As one who originally obsessed over summer, I can genuinely say that melting here on a café stool, I am truly missing the snow, ice, toques and moccasins of Canada. I am so grateful to all who made our trip possible; Carlyn, Joanna, Dr Tom and Deanne, Sharon, Val and Cal and every mentor Supreet and I had along the way. I know that we will definitely be back one day.
Ready for a rural adventure? Find out more about the Lynn Kratcha Memorial Bursary. Make a difference, study Medicine at JCU.