#followfriday- 4 Indigenous Wellness Advocates
By Rebekah Elkerton
Expanding on our conversation about wholistic wellness, this week’s feature presents 4 Indigenous wellness advocates, who promote wellness and community healing through their passions. One of the best motivators on any journey is seeing and learning from others who are on a similar path. While their lives may look very different, the following people are intentional about prioritizing healthy living and sharing their experiences along the way with an audience. Achieving good health isn’t a smooth and easy path, and each of these creators let us in on both their challenges and achievements in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Jacqui Wilkins, ND.
Dr. Jacqui (as she identifies herself online) is a plant medicine person and naturopathic doctor. Her feed presents beautiful visuals of colourful landscapes and her life as a caretaker of the land. She uses her extensive knowledge of plants and their healing properties to create educational posts and share which may be useful in supporting better physical and emotional health.
Her connection with the land is something that many Indigneous people long for and her digital space gives us a glimpse of the possibilities that exist for our healing in all forms when one has knowledge of the earth.
Dr. Jacqui shares parts of her personal life with heartfelt stories about motherhood and life as a plant medicine person. She doesn’t shy away from talking about her mental and spiritual health, navigating the world as an Yakama Indigenous woman living so closely connected to the land- a practice that some may call an alternative lifestyle
I have been following Dr. Jacqui Wilkins for over 2 years now and I am continually in awe of the light she shines into the world and the important knowledge she carries and shares widely.
A true rising star, Kendra Jessie welcomes us into her life of fitness, pow wow dance, and healthy relationships. Her love of movement is clear in the many ways she pushes her body to new levels of athleticism. From yoga, to speed training, to pow wow practice, Kendra shares her experiences as an athlete and advocate, with a deep love for her culture as Cree woman of Sucker Creek First Nation. She proudly wears her traditional regalia regularly in her posts, using her platform to share the beauty and immense creativity of pow wow culture.
Kendra is community minded and we see this through the initiatives she works with, most recently partnering to provide financial support to youth who want to play hockey.
Her path to wellness is not limited to the physical, Kendra uses her online space to open up about healing the cycle of intergenerational trauma both individually and in her relationships. She welcomes us in while she works towards building a wholistically healthy life and achieving her goals. Her passion for raising societal consciousness and awareness about Indigeneity inspires her audience to learn more, heal and try new things.
Anishinaabe and mixed-ancestry artist Maybell Eequay uses art and illustration to speak to her audience about wholistic health. Her social media features illustrations and characters she’s created, accompanied by words of encouragement or dialogue about healing. Her Mushroom Frog character has touched a large audience, through it’s wholesome nature and loving messages .
In contrast to the “positive-vibes only narrative,” which often floods social media, she reminds us that it’s okay to not be ok. Her characters embody healthy communication as they articulate their feelings, support one another and rest when needed. Her artwork is relatable, mirroring the emotions that society often tells us to keep to ourselves. She gives voice to a spectrum of feelings and offers the viewer permission to fully experience and move through them with support. She reminds us to care for ourselves in whatever way necessary.
With years of sharing her creations online, she’s built an online community where mental, emotional and spiritual health are supported through accessible art. A notable small-batch beader, jewelry maker, and activist, Eequay's gentle and creative energy is captivating. Often sharing the beautiful moments around her that inspire her, she reminds us to appreciate the small things and practice gratitude.
Follow Maybell on Instagram
Malina Dawn Muskegon
Artist, yogi, and teacher Malina Dawn Muskegon invites us to join her on her road to wholistic health. Her feed is a blend of yoga, traditional medicine and thought provoking text about indigeneity, self love, and the power of movement.
Malina tries new things and shares her growing pains and insights along the way. She’s open about her goal to “level up” and find alignment between all areas of her life. Malina’s connection to spirit is articulated in her captions where she shares with us her practice of embodying spiritual truth. Her practice is entrenched in movement, as she explains that yoga became her guiding light during the darkest moments of her life. She now extends her own light outward, offering prayers for her audience and their healing.
The depth of conversation Malina presents creates one of those rare online experiences that offers insight into another person’s most personal thoughts while facilitating a connection with the reader, directly encouraging their growth. She prompts introspection amongst her followers asking questions to guide their road to self-awareness. She asks herself, “How can I design a life that honours the natural rhythms of my multi-dimensional being?” before explaining what the question means to her.
Malina is a rising leader in Indigenous wholistic health. She is intentional with her use of technology, and uses her platform to honour the roots of her practice and promote inner sight.
Follow Malina on Instagram