Mitewekan and CANet Forge Unwavering Partnership to Advance Health Initiatives • Cardiovascular Network of Canada — CANet

Mitewekan and CANet Forge Unwavering Partnership to Advance Health Initiatives

Amid the constantly changing healthcare and research landscape, CANet remains committed to supporting efforts to combine Indigenous knowledge systems and ways of doing with Western science. CANet aims to help improve care practices and health outcomes for Indigenous peoples in Canada.

CANet Pewaseskwan Partnership 04 scaled 1“We want to see equal, patient-oriented care, at the highest level, for everyone.” Dr. Anthony Tang, CANet CEO & Scientific Director

In pursuit of the goals established in a previous ceremony near St. Philips, Pewaseskwan, in partnership with CANet, the Canadian Heart Function (CHF) Alliance, Brain-Heart Interconnectome, supported the establishment of Mitewekan, a council of Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Holders, Indigenous health leaders, and people with lived experience of cardiac conditions and allies from across the nation.

Mitewekan ᒥᑌᐍᑲᐣ – Cree meaning “the spirit behind the heartbeat.”

unnamed 1An Elder gifted the group the name in ceremony on Treaty 6 Territory at Mistawasis First Nation. It reflects connections, the spirit of community, and the significance of the heartbeat that unites us all.

Mitewekan guides research alliances and healthcare organizations on the contextualization and adaptation required for culturally safe and responsive cardiovascular clinical practice and research. Recently, Mitewekan worked alongside artist Claire Shannon-Akiwenzie, a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation In Neyaashiinigmiing, to develop a logo that represents their team and the people who are a part of it. The logo offers a glimpse into the diversity and knowledge held by each Mitewekan member and those they connect with.

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Keith Leclaire

Keith Leclaire, Mitewekan Knowledge Holder and member of the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawá:ke, shares the importance of integrating Indigenous perspectives and experiences into cardiac research and care.

“Taking a spiritual Indigenous worldview and trying to explain it to non-Indigenous people, as well as sharing the importance of expressing that we as Indigenous people live in a spiritual universe and operate within spiritual relationships – that is sharing culture. It is important to take time to develop the ability to understand what you learn and use from Elders and how to translate that to make an impact in research.”

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Keith was joined at the Annual CANet Public Forum in Montreal by fellow Mitewekan member Carrielynn Lund, a Métis Knowledge Holder who focuses on assisting Indigenous communities in identifying and addressing health and social issues that harm children and their families.

Aiming to increase our understanding between healthcare providers and patients, the insightful event further united Mitewekan and CANet by highlighting the importance of Indigenous-specific considerations in patient-oriented research and healthcare delivery.

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More recently, CANet met with members of the Mitewekan in Ottawa at their annual gathering to celebrate the gifting of the Mitewekan name. They shared ways of coming and being together, with a special commitment to upholding the principles of respect, relationships, reciprocity, relevance, representation, and responsibility.

As our organizations progress, our work together will be guided by respect, integrity, and a commitment to positive change. We will continue to honour our Mitewekan partners’ traditions and integrate their wisdom into our research programs and digital tool development, ensuring that our actions resonate in a good way with all those we serve in cardiac care and their loved ones.