Board of Directors
We are grateful for the governance of our Board of Directors as they guide us and our work, grounding us in our sacred teachings and reinforcing our commitment to the health of our communities.
About Kathleen BlueSky, MBA
Wawatay Muskwa Iskwew
Kathleen is a Nehetho-Anishinabe Iskwew from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. She is a devoted mother, partner, birth helper, and entrepreneur. She is strongly influenced by the traditional teachers in her life and strives to be an advocate for collaborative approaches that support community-driven solutions.
Kathleen has an MBA and has worked over 20 years in the Indigenous government sector with a focus on consultation, engagement, and community development. She has spent much of her career working with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Nanaandawewigamig with a focus on Indigenous healing and restoring Nationhood. Kathleen is currently the CEO of her own company, Seven Feathers Consulting which is focused on empowering First Nation self-determination and Indigenous Sovereignty. As the Co-founder and Chairperson of Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag, Kathleen is committed to rematriating birth to the land (our communities). She strongly believes that Birth is Sovereignty.
Message from the Board Chair, Kathleen BlueSky
Growing up I watched my mother always making things for people, moccasins, blankets, moss bags, wiwipison. She would sew and talk and tell stories...every new baby always received a gift from her. My late mother - Irene McKay was a Birth Helper and daughter of a Nehetho midwife, Georgina Linklater from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. I watched my mother breastfeed three of my siblings, she taught me about things that happen to her body through carrying children and nurturing them. I watched her bind her womb, care for the belly button and tell me all kinds of belly button stories. Throughout my whole childhood, we had a Wiwipison in our house, we called it the baw baw swing. I used to put my dolls in there and sing baw baw songs.
As a young girl, I didn’t know what I was learning. I didn’t know until 2005 when I became pregnant with my first-born daughter. It was then that I came to understand the teachings and as unprepared I was, I was very prepared. For me, there was no other option than breastfeeding. I wrapped my baby and carried her in her moss bag. She wore wrap around until she was 4 years old. When I encountered struggles, I knew just what to do and if I didn’t, I knew that I could go to my aunties and grandmothers.
I share this little bit of my story because it reflects what and why Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag was created.
It is our vision and mission to offer loving, respectful, and culturally rooted support to all women and their families.
Our organization and our purpose is the culmination of years of teachings from Nokoomuk from all over Manitoba and Canada. We have been given a responsibility to protect these teachings and put them back in their rightful place, in the hearts and minds of Iskwewak/Ikwewag.
Nokoomuk have been and continue to prepare us to understand the profound meaning and power of the birth experience. It is our vision to preserve this in the most meaningful way we can because Birth is the most profound expression of Creation.
Sovereignty is the power, authority, and ability to govern one’s self. A supreme expression of independence and self-determination.
Today, we have reached a milestone in bringing back our ways. We are committed to rematriating birth back to the lands that made us. We are committed to creating the safest and most nurturing, and empowering space possible for our Iskwewak/Ikwewag.
“the soul of sovereignty lies in birthing”
Katherine Whitecloud, Dakota Kokoom
We are honoured to have been chosen to deliver the programming for the Restoring The Sacred Bond Initiative. Because we believe that the health of our communities starts with our women as they move through the birth cycle, we believe this Initiative will have a positive effect on the wellness of First Nations communities for generations to follow.
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Rachel is Ktunaxa with English/German descent from Akis'qnuk First Nation, but grew up removed from her ancestral homelands and has lived most of her life in Manitoba on Treaty 4 and Treaty 1 territories.
Rachel holds a BA in psychology and Masters in Development Practice in Indigenous Development.
Most of her work experience is with Indigenous non-profits in Winnipeg and she has also worked in health policy at the First Nations Health Authority in Vancouver.
Rachel has completed various research internships — with Nanaandawewigamig (the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba), the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Manitoba branch), and the Population Council (Kenya branch).
Rachel’s interest in midwifery stems from her interest and passion for reproductive justice and experience volunteering at sexual and reproductive health clinics.
On a personal note, Rachel is part of big beautiful blended family and enjoys movies, reading, drinking tea, and tending to her cats.
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Born and raised in the Ojibway community of Onigaming, Grandmother, Sherry Copenace is known for her devotion to Anishinaabe ways/traditions and experience in Indigenous social services. She speaks her original Language-Ojibway and has great love for the Land, Waters and Peoples. Niizhosake holds a Masters in Social Work and is employed at the University of Manitoba. Since 2011, she has hosted and led Makoosekawin- Anishinaabe young women coming of age teachings and ceremonies. She is part of a Grandmothers/Knowledge Keepers Circle at Nanadawegamig. Sherry helps at Anishinaabe Teaching and Sacred Lodges. She is a board member at Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag and Animikii Ozozon Family Services and has over 25 years of experience working in Indigenous social services. Copenace is a voice for her Anishinaabe community.
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Anishinaabe Ikwe registered with Keeseekoowenin First Nation. I have ties to three communities in Manitoba (Keeseekoowenin, Sagkeeng and Peguis First Nation) and live in Winnipeg with my husband and our three children. I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter and friend. I currently work as a social worker in the health field in the north end of Winnipeg.