Dr. Shannan Grant is a settler from Unama’ki, living in K’jipuktuk with her family, who are from a Cree First Nation in Northern Ontario called Moose Cree First Nation. She has 20 years of experience working with, for and in Indigenous communities on community-led projects. She is a Registered Dietitian interested in what she calls “wellness diversity” and is guided by the principal of two-eyed seeing. Known among her students for her natural science-informed analogies, Shannan has completed two undergraduate degrees in Nova Scotia, one in Biology and one in Human Nutrition. It was during her Biology degree that she was first introduced to Etuaptmumk (Two-eyed Seeing).
Etuaptmumk is a guiding principle for co-learning, founded by local Mi’kmaq Elders and Academics (Elders Albert and Murdena Marshall and Dr. Cheryl Bartlett, Shannan’s former Professor) from Unama’ki (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia). Shannan attributes her ability to develop and sustain strong work relationships to seeing with both eyes, with an open mind and heart. With guidance from Elders, Knowledge Keepers, community partners, and other Western scientists, Shannan’s work (2009-present day) aims to encourage inquiry, knowledge gardening, relationship building, and respect for various ways of knowing.
Shannan and GrantLab (a group of staff, trainees, and colleagues) are deeply invested and involved in efforts to address the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Calls to Action and calls that predate and postdate these calls. Highlights of Shannan’s relevant work include:
· Sandy Lake Health and Diabetes Project (2007 to 2015)
This longstanding partnership between Sandy Lake First Nation and the University of Toronto, is internationally known for its participatory approaches, effective programs, and sustainability. Shannan worked with this community (in community) as a Registered Dietitian, Research Coordinator, Camp Co-Coordinator, and continues to be a guest on the Sandy Lake Health and Diabetes Program Call-in Radio Show (she often invites her students and colleagues to join her). 100s of dissemination activities have grown from this work. For an example of one, click here.
· The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) PromoScience Two-Eyed Seeing Camp Project
For more on this project and our partnerships, click here. This project has recently expanded to include comprehensive community-led evaluation, wellness with both eyes, and a Science Literacy Week BioBlitz (sponsored by Canadian Roots Exchange, NSERC, and Canadian Wildlife Federation).
· The Canadian Foundation of Dietetic Practice have funded “Towards decolonizing Canadian dietetic practice,” research that will investigate how dietetics can integrate the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action into our standards of practice, educational competencies, and guidelines for service provision to Indigenous peoples. Outcomes will support care delivery in ways that are culturally safe and that respect traditional Indigenous knowledge and healing practices. Those involved in this work are scattered across Turtle Island and have been working locally to support Indigenizing and Decolonizing the Academy. For more, click here.
· Mijipjewey na Pisun (Food is Medicine Workshop) was co-developed, co-implemented and co-evaluated by Shannan’s Trainees, partner communities, Albert Marshall and other Knowledge Keepers, like Tuma Young, Lnu Scholar, Cape Breton University. Most recently, this workshop has been filmed in partnership with the Breakfast and Beyond Program, funded by Medavie.
· Program Development Research examining the role Indigenous Communities play in development, implementation and evaluation in Canadian Science Outreach Programs targeting Indigenous Youth.
· Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funded Atlantic Indigenous Mentorship Network
For more information on this project, click here.
· With Two Eyes and One Heart Open: Using Person-focused Science Education to Inspire Creativity, Co-learning, and Reconciliation
This workshop and dissemination activity was co-developed by Shannan, with Chelsey Purdy (MSc Student GrantLab), Ann Sylliboy, Post-Secondary Consultant, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, with the input of Patrick Small Legs-Nagge (Special Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs, MSVU) and Elder Albert Marshall. Based on education and research the developers have done with their partners and the teachings they have and continue to receive from Knowledge Keepers and Elders, this workshop has been presented to various audiences, including as an invited talk at the 2019 Atlantic Universities’ Teaching Showcase – “Critical Hope and Other Academic Virtues.”
· Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Focus Group
One of many members of The Mount community, working to respond to (some of) the 231 recommendations outlined in the MMIW Report.
· As member of the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Diabetes and a long time member of Diabetes Canada, Shannan is working with Indigenous and Settler colleagues to co-create a CJD Special Edition that is guided by two-eyed seeing and addresses a number of calls to action and integrates a diversity of Indigenous perspectives.
Dr. Shannan Grant on teaching and learning:
A friend (an elder, a teacher) of mine once told me, “teaching and learning are interwoven like a basket. A knowledge keeper holds knowledge (like a basket holds other things) best when both teaching and learning are present and thoughtfully and carefully woven.”
Shannan’s trainees on teaching and learning:
Florence Blackett, mature Mi’kmaw Applied Human Nutrition and Anthropology Undergraduate Student, Mount Saint Vincent University
“The Two-Eyed Seeing project has provided an opportunity for me to gain summer employment in a relevant field that was not restricted by age. It has enabled me to apply my life and academic skills through the development and facilitation of activities which teach traditional knowledge to youth. This year, I demonstrated how to fillet a fish for the filming of one of our activities called Mijipjewey na Pisun (Food is Medicine). This has allowed me the opportunity to not only obtain much needed work experience, but also learn a new framework to present indigenous knowledge. This project has provided me with a unique way to engage with my community and an opportunity to expand my own understanding of the science practiced by my ancestors.”
Kate Braddon, Level 1 Internship Education Program Dietetic Intern, Mount Saint Vincent University
“I completed a dietetic internship placement with the NSERC Promo-Science Two-Eyed Seeing Camp. This experience gave me the opportunity to learn about Mi’kmaw culture from various community members, Elders and youth. Working with the camp gave me insights into the similarities and differences among Indigenous and western world views, which I will take with me throughout the rest of my education and career. Having the opportunity to immerse myself in the Mi’kmaw culture and learn hands-on when visiting communities is an experience that my up-bringing in Ontario and my previous education had not provided me with. I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn about Mi’kmaw traditions and culture from the communities and I know that this experience will contribute to how I practice as a dietitian in the future, with one eye seeing through the strengths of Indigenous knowledge and the other eye through the strengths of western science.”
One of Shannan’s Colleagues and Mentors on teaching and learning:
Patrick Small-Legs Nagge, Special Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs, President’s Office, Director of Aboriginal Student Centre
“The above article mentions teaching and learning. In natural law the two most important things are: To teach & to protect – Dr. Grant and those involved in her work do these! I was invited to attend Kate Braddon’s final dietetic internship project presentation recently. Her presentation was excellent! Her work acknowledged and embodied many of the sacred teachings: Humility through learning, Respect through learning another worldview, having the courage to do so, she spoke honesty, and she loved the topic. Her experience obviously increased her wisdom to truly see another worldview; not to judge it but to accept & understand.”
For more on the team:
On Two-Eyed Seeing: An Interview with Chelsey Purdy
Dr. Cheryl Bartlett (left) and Elder Dr. Albert Marshall (right)
Dr. Shannan Grant