Lana Whiskeyjack is a multidisciplinary treaty iskwew scholartist from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, Treaty Six Territory, Alberta. Guided by her grandmother’s advice, “Go to school, travel, and see as much as you can. Then return home to share what you learned, but do not forget where you came from.” After graduating high school, the young mom moved to Red Deer to attain her Art & Design diploma, then moved to Ottawa with her growing family, attaining B.A. (Honours) and M.A (Canadian Studies) degrees. The story continues with returning to work near her home community and attain her doctorate degree at university nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills (UnBQ) in iyiniw pimâtisiwin kiskeyihtamowin, the first Indigenous owned and operated educational institution in Canada. Prior to 1970, UnBQ operated as Blue Quills Indian Residential School, where two generations of her maternal family attended.
Lana’s research, writing, and art explores the paradoxes of what it means to be nehiyaw (Cree) and iskwew (woman) in a Western culture and society; and, how she and other Indigenous peoples are reclaiming, re-gathering, and remembering their ancestral medicine (sacredness and power). Her art is passionate and expressive, born from the deep roots of her culture, history, and intergenerational relations. Through the examination of sometimes difficult subjects, her art reflects the intrinsic beauty of her interconnections with the earth, nêhiyawêwin (Cree language) and wahkohtowin.
Lana brings her leadership and knowledge in nêhiyaw (Cree) arts-based practices, community-engaged research, and scholarship into her role as an assistant professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta. Her decolonizing learning and being at UnBQ grounded within nêhiyaw (Cree) ceremony, nêhiyawêwin (Cree language) and nêhiyaw worldview is foundational to her creativity, research, teaching and community service practices. Her current research projects explore issues re-matriation, (re)connecting to the spirit of nêhiyawêwin; and nêhiyaw diverse gender worldviews and rites of passage.