This website is a companion to my PhD dissertation, in which I explore the connections between autonomy and wellbeing in Indigenous contexts through a case study in the Cree Nation of Chisasibi, Eeyou Istchee (James Bay, northern Quebec). It centers on the concept of healing as a means through which the relational links between autonomy and wellbeing are developed, nurtured and redefined, depending on specific local contexts. In the Cree Nation of Chisasibi the implementation of iiyiyiu (Cree) healing in the health and social service delivery is one of the examples where community members create and strengthen local socio-culturally relevant institutions, and define their own goals that correspond to their expressed needs.


hours of footage

The project uses oral history methodology including an ethnographic study of a land-based healing program and individual interviews.


minutes of interview

In all I conducted eight (8) video interviews that were edited into approximately three (3) hours of footage.


video clips

Each of the five Korsakow films is made up of 11 to 20 clips ranging from 2 to 7 minutes in length.

The research presented here is the outcome of a six-year collaboration between myself; Larry House, a Chisasibi iiyiyiu, community advocate and my closest research partner; Eddie Pash, a Chisasibi iiyiyiu, cultural resource, and elder; as well as the Chisasibi Miyupimaatisiiun Committee, the Nishiiyuu Department (Cree Board of Health and Social Services James Bay – CBHSSJB), the youth who participated in the initial stages and the individuals who so graciously agreed to share their healing stories with me, they are: Irene Rupert-House, Denise Perusse, Mary Louise Snowboy, Roy Neacappo, Mike Polson (Big Mike), Martha Bearskin, William Bearskin.

Ultimately, this study shows that approaches to decolonization and healing are varied, transitional, relational and creative. They are specific to particular Nations, communities, groups within communities, and individuals. Often they are informed by personal histories, experiences and ontologies that come together to inspire and build opportunities for change and living a good life. It also seeks to caution against prescriptive and normative approaches to Indigenous-settler relations that bracket everyday experience and local processes of resurgence all the while bringing attention to how structural and institutional forces frame local action. In other words, transforming suffering begins at the local level where addressing immediate and imminent priorities has the highest potential for local engagement and intervention that foregrounds agency and empowerment while operationalizing external forces to achieve Indigenous ways of being.


This research has been made possible by grants from Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture, Aboriginal Peoples Research and Knowledge Network (DIALOG), the Cree Board of Health and Social Services James Bay (CBHSSJB), and Northern Scientific Training Program (NSTP). The Center for Oral History and Digital Storytelling has provided invaluable support and inspiration.