Health & Indigenous Elders
On January 14, 2019, The Division of Geriatric Medicine in collaboration with the Centre for Studies in Aging & Health and the Seniors Health Knowledge Network were pleased to offer this free webinar presentation featuring Tim Yearington (Grey Thunderbird), Algonquin Traditional Knowledge Keeper from the Office of Indigenous Initiatives of Queen’s University as he provided an introduction to the role of Elders in Indigenous communities and Indigenous perspectives of health and end-of-life.
Julia Miller, Knowledge Broker & Research Coordinator of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Centre for Studies in Aging in Health facilitated the presentation and provided an introduction to population health concerns, disease prevalence and risk factors. Learning objectives included to review population health concerns, disease prevalence and risk factors; to understand the role of Elders in Indigenous communities and to introduce Indigenous perspectives of health and end-of-life.
Tim Yearington (Grey Thunderbird) is a Métis-Algonquin Knowledge Keeper. As an adoptee, he was raised in North Bay, Ontario. But the home of his ancestors is Kitchizibi Algonquin Territory. Kitchizibi, which means “Great River”, is known today as the Ottawa River Valley.
Tim’s first career was as a commercial artist and then secondly a fine artist. Not long after that he became a starving artist too. It was at this difficult time in his life he hit rock bottom and he realized he needed to start the journey of finding and embracing his own Indigenous identity. Upon doing so he embarked on a new adventure and found work as a wilderness guide – just like his Métis and Algonquin ancestors had done before him. It was during this time Tim began to learn more about the exciting world of traditional Algonquin knowledge and medicine ways.
From all the traditional teachings and medicine ways he was learning, he realized others were interested too so he began to share his knowledge. In 2010 his first book, That Native Thing: Exploring the Medicine Wheel, was published by Borealis Press in Ottawa. His book has helped many people understand and appreciate Indigenous Worldview, traditional knowledge, and Algonquin medicine ways of knowing. Soon Tim was regularly asked to share his traditional knowledge base of teachings with students in schools, colleges and universities. For over 15 years now he has taught many people about the benefits of learning Indigenous Knowledge.
As a traditional knowledge keeper and educator, Tim worked for two years with Correctional Service Canada as an elder at the Millhaven Institution. In this role he worked very hard to enlighten and empower not just those who were incarcerated, but also correctional staff members, management and mental health workers alike.
Based on his seasoned life experience and the traditional knowledge he now carries, Tim was next hired by Queen’s University and the Office of Indigenous Initiatives in the educational position of a traditional knowledge keeper and elder. Tim continues blazing his trail at Queen’s and is now the Coordinator of Indigenous Curricular Innovation within the Faculty of Health Sciences. The nature of his innovative work is to purposefully blend the Western, Academic Worldview with the Indigenous Worldview for the greater good of our future generations.
Tim’s Indigenous roots are very important to him and he spends much time outside, on the land, to keep himself healthy. In doing so he maintains a close relationship with the medicine ways of his ancestors and the guidance of the manitous – the spirits – to aid him with his work.