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Noritta MORSEU-DIOP

Year of Award: 2011 Award State: Queensland Social Welfare > Indigenous
To explore Indigenous-specific healing initiatives in prisons and the criminal justice system - USA, Canada
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The aim of my project was to examine the benefits of culturally appropriate healing and rehabilitation programs within the Correctional Facilities and grassroots Indigenous Communities in Canada and the United States of America. To learn from and collaborate with Indigenous Healers and Program Providers who are delivering culturally-specific healing programs within the Correctional Centres and also within the grassroots communities. In the United States of America, I travelled across 7 states [California, Washington State, Missouri, Illinois, Washington DC, New York and Maryland] from the west coast to the east coast. I walked with, observed and listened to the stories of Indigenous healers, storytellers, community workers, social workers, custodial officers and academics from San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington DC and New York and visited the Native American Reservations such as the Tulalip Reservation in Seattle and the Poospatuck Reservation in New York. In New York, DWI County Jail, I presented to approximately 30 incarcerated people about my life story, my work and my Winston Churchill project in the United States of America. 

In Canada, I observed and learned from the works of Indigenous counsellors, healers and program providers in Alberta, Edmonton in Canada, namely at the Nechi Institute of Training, Research and Health Promotion and the Stan Daniels Healing Centre and Aboriginal social workers in Saskatchewan. I was invited to participate as a dignitary in the grand entry at the Nechi Journey of the Spirit Honouring our 2011-12 Graduates Ceremony. I presented a 2 hour presentation to approximately 50 staff and incarcerated people at the William Head Institution in Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada. In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I was invited to be an Honorary Witness at the fourth National Event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, “For the child taken, For the parent left behind”. I also visited the Pacheedaht, Alexis, Poundmakers and Blackfoot Reservations. 

Major Lessons & Conclusions 

The First Nations Peoples of Canada and the United States of America have practiced traditional and holistic healing methods to address the social, cultural, spiritual and emotional well-being of their people for decades. They have established their own Indigenous-specific healing & treatment centres and correctional facilities. Their service delivery utilises traditional medicines and ceremonies based on the ancient philosophies, lores and knowledge handed down by their ancestors. Learning from them will not only assist in enhancing our own Indigenous-specific intiatives here in Australia, it will provide an avenue for further networking, sharing and knowledge exchange globally.

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