FORT SMITH, NT –A total of $810,901 in funding has been approved for a three-year collaborative research project looking at Indigenous maternal health care in Canada. Aurora Research Institute Manager of Health Research Programs and Aurora College instructor Dr. Pertice Moffitt is a co-investigator on the research project, which aims to embrace and include Indigenous Knowledge, values, teachings and stories.

The project is entitled Welcoming the ‘Sacred Spirit’ (child): Connecting Indigenous and Western ‘ways of knowing’ to inform future policy partnerships to optimize maternal health service delivery initiatives in remote Canadian regions. University of Manitoba will manage the project; principal investigators are Assistant Professor Kellie Thiessen and Katherine Whitecloud, a Traditional Knowledge Keeper of the Wipazoka Wakpa Dakota Nation.

Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), “Welcoming the Sacred Spirit” is one of only 371 grants approved out of 2,484 applications from across the country.


“Through research, we learned that the sacred spirit, the spirit of a child, has been taken out of the remote communities here in Manitoba and across the country and this has had a detrimental impact on the overall community.”

  • Assistant Professor, Kellie Thiessen, Director, Midwifery Program, University of Manitoba

“What’s happened is we’ve disconnected our children. Being connected to extended family is important for a child’s ‘knowing’, or what Western research has termed ‘genetic memory’. I have that knowing from my ancestors, where I instinctively know how to manage a situation, and that knowledge remains with me. It’s all the basic teachings you need to function in life and survive in life.”

  • Elder Katherine Whitecloud

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Aurora Research Institute (ARI) is the research division of Aurora College.  The mandate of ARI is to improve the quality of life for residents of the Northwest Territories by applying scientific, technological and Indigenous knowledge to solve northern problems and advance social and economic goals. To achieve this mandate ARI conducts, supports, and licenses research throughout the NWT.  ARI is headquartered in Inuvik, and has regional research centres in Inuvik, Yellowknife and Fort Smith.

For more information, please contact:

Jayne Murray
Manager, Communications & College Relations
Aurora College 
Phone: 867-872-7021