CHRIM’s newest theme, Excellence In Neurodevelopment and Rehabilitation Research in Child Health (ENRRICH) has set out to develop high-quality research programs that are needed to sustain and advance the quality of care that children receive. Led by CHRIM Investigators Dr. Kelly Russell and Dr. Kristy Wittmeier, with cultural guidance, leadership, and spiritual development from Knowledge Keeper Mary Wilson, the theme has made a conscious choice to conduct research in a culturally safe and sensitive manner.
The research team acknowledge the ongoing impact of colonization on Indigenous families and communities, as well as their own positionality and limitations of current knowledge, as non-Indigenous settlers of Canada.
“We value Elder Mary’s leadership within ENRRICH. Her teachings help guide theme members to ask relevant research questions, conduct research, and share knowledge in culturally sensitive ways. Her involvement is helping us to grow as individuals and as a team.”– Kristy Wittmeier, ENRRICH Co-lead
In an outdoor ceremony in September 2020, Elder Mary bestowed upon ENRRICH the honour of an Indigenous name: Cowikanāpisīs (Cree), or “Dragonfly.” As taught by Elder Mary, children are the centerpiece of the medicine wheel. The agile dragonfly can freely travel on the medicine wheel, turning in every direction with the same spontaneity and courage as children.
“The dragonfly brings together the teachings of light and love and metamorphosis and change. The dragonfly is the one that can bring the breath of life and fire down to the earth and land so gently in the palm of each and everyone’s hand,” Elder Mary tells us.
Looking through the wings of the dragonfly, we are reminded of the rainbow of differing perspectives, and the importance of seeking truth through illusion.
“The dragonfly reminds us that research should be flexible, and able to change course when needed to produce work that best supports children and families. It inspires us to trust our intuition and keep our imaginations active in all our efforts,”–Dr. Kelly Russell, ENRRICH Co-Lead
Carrying these teachings, ENRRICH remains committed to developing high-quality research programs to support Manitoba children and families. The ENRRICH theme is looking forward to fostering strong relationships with Indigenous communities and continuing to learn and grow as they move forward.