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Rainingbird Daniels

Rainingbird Daniels

Rainingbird Daniels, a Native American woman, smiles while wearing glasses. Her long brown hair is down and flowing at both shoulders, with greenery in the background.

Throughout my life on the reservation, I spent a lot of my youth traveling with my dad all over Turtle Island helping him conduct ceremonies. I love to travel and every time I'm on a plane or in a car, taking a road trip, it just feels like home. I feel my inner child is really happy, just like it was when I was going on a trip with my dad. It brings me a lot of comfort.

I was born and raised in Treaty 6 Territory, otherwise known as Saskatchewan. Specifically, I'm a member of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan. My roots come from my father's ancestry, which is Plains Cree, Sioux, and Dakota, extending from the USA. My mother's ancestry is Plains Cree.

I'm a current 2nd year Psychology student within the Faculty of Health. I decided to leave my community and my family to access a better education, among other opportunities, at York University. I chose this university when I was doing volunteer work in Peterborough, Ontario with a national experience called Katimavik when I was 18.

I'm really passionate about leadership, activism and helping people; particularly about Indigenous research and Indigenous communities. I got involved with The Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages (CIKL) when I was searching for work study positions. I knew it was a place I wanted to work, so eventually I started a position as a Special Projects Assistant.

My experience working with CIKL has been amazing. My coworkers and associates are fantastic, and I’ve received many opportunities. I was given the freedom to do research on Indigenous communities, such as languages, Indigenous planning systems, and the smudging program. I've experienced myself grow more while being within this position than I ever thought imaginable. I've also become more interested in research, which wasn't the case before, and pursuing graduate studies.

The smudging program came to be when I was researching Indigenous medicines and how they were used. I wanted to create a new space and environment for Indigenous students, staff and faculty, including non-Indigenous people to convene, and be able to learn or practice decolonization. The program will hopefully always be there to support and help others, as well as ensure they have a safe space on campus.

I'm using the smudging program to create accessibility for students, staff, and faculty who want a safe space on campus which allows them to have access to traditional medicines. Through my need for helping people and my passion for leadership, especially within my position on CIKL, I’m building a program which I believe is the first of its kind at the University.

In addition to the work I’ve done with CIKL, I’m the Vice-President at the Indigenous Students Association at York, a President’s Ambassador, SHAY Ambassador at the Faculty of Health, and in the Promotions Committee of the Calumet College Council. I’m also a Project Leader at an Indigenous student group and non-for-profit, Learning Spirit Alliance. The goal is to fight food insecurity for students on campus by providing them with educational opportunities about Indigenous food sovereignty.

I'm confident that through everything I am doing, I'm working hard to create a positive change. It's something that I've always dreamt of since I was a little girl living on the reservation in the middle of nowhere. I owe it to myself and my family to create this positive change, especially to help people and help my community.

Now, I'm living in a big city and a lot of, I'll call them res kids, can't even imagine that they can do that. I never thought I could. And I guess I'm doing it for all the little kids, showing them that you can actually make change and if you're committed to something you can obtain it. You can do anything! So that's something that motivates me, my inner child living on the reserve. My inner girl is always here and that's beautiful.


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