"Coming from a place of reconnection with my own culture, being Metis and Cree, I know the journey to holistic wellness can be embedded in cultural practices."

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Student Profile: Brandi Anne Berry

Indigenous Population Health Master's student in the Faculty of Health Sciences 

December 16, 2020
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My home community is Miki'siw Métis Chartered Community in Region 1 (Vancouver Island) of the Métis of British Columbia. I completed my BSc in Nursing from a combined program through North Island College and Vancouver Island University, and continue to work as a Registered Nurse. Through my nursing degree and professional experiences, I've discovered that health is one of the most diverse and multifaceted aspects of what makes us human. I'm particularly interested in how engagement with cultural activities, especially language, can impact health and wellness. Coming from a place of reconnection with my own culture, being Métis and Cree, I know the journey to holistic wellness can be embedded in cultural practices. Outside of academia, I like to paint, bead, and study languages myself, including nehiyawewin and Michif. 

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

The program I entered was the first of it’s kind, working in collaboration with First Nations Health Authority and SFU. As an Indigenous student, I wanted to be part of a faculty and program that fostered academic excellence, but also promotes a sense of community.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AND/OR PROGRAM.

My research will focus on the relationship between Indigenous language fluency and health and wellness. It is just part of discovering how closeness to Indigenous culture could promote health. I am looking at if any knowledge of an Indigenous language could improve health, and if a higher degree of language knowledge could have a larger impact on mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. I am also investigating if this degree of language fluency could be protective against suicidal thoughts. I am hoping to continue this work in a PhD in the future.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

I like how approachable all the faculty is when it comes to questions. I am new to research, and I felt supported to ask as many questions as needed from experts in their fields. I feel encouraged to reach my full potential because I am reminded I am capable of reaching it.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR FUNDED AWARDS?

 I received the Canadian Graduate Scholarship - Master's through CIHR last year and the Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR) Master's scholarship this year. Both are competitive. 

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?

I hope that I can encourage Indigenous scholars who may not have a formal research/science background to apply for opportunities in graduate studies if they are passionate about it. I also hope that anyone who is thinking about learning their Indigenous language feels motivated to learn it when the time is right for them! 

Contact Brandi: brandi_berry@sfu.ca
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brandiaberry
Twitter:  @brandiaberry