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The Noojamadaa Exhibit: Indigenous Perspectives on Healthy Relationships

Posted on March 24, 2017

The Noojamadaa Exhibit is a stunning new photovoice collection on display now through April 1, 2017, at the McEwen School of Architecture in Sudbury. Noojamadaa means “let’s heal” and the exhibit provides a safe space for Indigenous and non‐Indigenous peoples to reflect on our shared journey towards wellness, through contemplation of our relationships with one another and our surroundings.

Over the past year, a research team—led by Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) Associate Professor Dr. Marion Maar—has collaborated with Manitoulin First Nations communities and health organizations on research in support of healthy relationships to help counteract intimate partner violence.

As part of his studies towards a Master’s of Indigenous Relations at Laurentian University, Beaudin Bennett coordinated sessions for women to come together and share pictures on the topic of healthy relationships and their role in the journey toward health and well-being. The Noojamadaa Exhibit features many of these thoughtful images shared by First Nations women.

Dr. Thomas Strickland (Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture), and Yaeji Han (NOSM medical student) collaborated with the researchers on the curation of the exhibit. Creative guidance was also provided by Indigenous artists Joseph Osawabine and Matthew Manitowabi of Debajehmujig Storytellers in Manitowaning.

“Community solutions are urgently needed and are an important step in combatting the effects of intergenerational trauma and promoting healthy families and communities,” says Dr. Marion Maar. “Intimate partner violence was identified as a significant health and social issue by communities on Manitoulin Island. Associated not only with acute injuries, intimate partner violence can also lead to chronic health issues such as anxiety, depression, and addiction. Intimate partner violence is also associated with social consequences like dropping out of school, unemployment, child apprehension, and poverty.”

The Noojamadaa Exhibit uses an experiential learning approach to foster and promote healing and reconciliation. “We worked on this project with the communities of Wikwemikong Unceded Territory, Aundeck Omni Kaning, and Whitefish River First Nation. My hope is that this project will be the foundation for a multi-year initiative to address family healing on Manitoulin Island.”

This project is a new opportunity to raise awareness about the characteristics of intimate partner violence, and to help inform community health strategies that can then begin to address this important issue. In undertaking this project, Manitoulin First Nation communities have taken new steps toward community-based solutions to strengthen families and communities. The project is guided by an Indigenous community advisory committee, to ensure that the work continues to reflect the needs of communities.

The exhibit will be traveling, and requests for bookings on Manitoulin have already been received. Photography from The Noojamadaa Exhibit is also providing the foundation for the development of accredited medical education sessions on culturally-informed care for services providers.

Experience the unique collection photography in The Noojamadaa Exhibit on display now at the McEwen School of Architecture in Sudbury through April 1, 2017. Admission is free. All are warmly welcomed.

Support for The Noojamadaa Exhibit has been provided by the Women’s Xchange.