Indigenous Faculty Fridays: Nicole Redvers
We asked Dr. Nicole Redvers, N.D., M.P.H., to kick off our Indigenous Faculty spotlight series. Dr. Redvers is an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UND, and teaches for both the Master of Public Health and the Indigenous Health PhD programs. Read on to learn more!
Hello, Dr. Redvers! What is/are your Alma Mater?
- University of Lethbridge- Bachelor of Science
- Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine- Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
- Dartmouth College- Master of Public Health
What's your favorite science fact?
Scientific ‘emergence’ (both in its conceptualization and its emergence as potential fact).
What did you pursue before healthcare?
As a young Indigenous woman coming to post-secondary education from a small, rural community, I spent the better part of my undergraduate degree trying to adjust and adapt to the new surroundings. Frankly I was a little disjointed about what I wanted to do. I specialized in exercise science, and through a quite random stumble into a "lunch and learn" event decided I wanted to pursue a career in medicine in a matter of two days after that!
Was there a mentor or someone in your life who helped or guided you?
Throughout my studies I was quite disconnected from my home community by geographic
distance, and back then technology wasn’t as available as it is now. I persevered
by leaning on peers and them leaning on me; however, it was challenging. There were
not a lot of Indigenous doctors around to look up to when I was in my program, so
it often left Indigenous students trying to merge their own world and life experiences
with that of a Western institution which often viewed the world in very different
ways. There was always a push inside of me to continue, however…that there was a greater
purpose to my efforts and that I just needed to keep my head in the books and keep
on going. Now, looking back, I a+m glad I pushed through.
What was the biggest difficulty you encountered on your path (and how did you overcome it)?
In my second year of study, I started to travel internationally to work with various organizations around the world that provided medical care to rural and remote areas. Despite the many challenges happening where I was originally from, there was something about seeing the grave challenges of others that really got to me. These experiences led to many overwhelming feelings on whether I was doing the right thing with my career. When so many people are lacking access to food, water, and basic human rights around the world, perhaps this is where I needed to focus my efforts. I realized later on that it is often much easier to acknowledge the struggles of others than the struggle of oneself and even one’s own community. It took me even longer to realize that we cannot seek to support others without supporting ourselves first and it became clear as time went on that I needed to go home to serve my own people in my own region to start my journey. Acknowledging and clearly accepting the fact that we cannot help everyone and all problems was a clear lesson going into practice.
What’s the best part about working with students?
I absolutely love working with students! It reminds me of that energy I had starting out many years ago--being excited, nervous, unsure, passionate. I am constantly amazed each week by the depth of thought, reflection, and consideration our up-and-coming students have for their work and the great issues they hope to tackle in the world.
Any particular areas of focus in your research or educational work?
Most of my research and education work is at the intersection of Indigenous and Western ways of knowing and being in the world. This intersect lies within health care spaces all the way up to greater planetary health movements, given the complexity of things like climate change and other global experiences. I feel honored to be a part of an amazing group of Indigenous scholars supported by Elders who are always very clear on where the focus needs to be in this important work. We cannot have healthy people and communities without a healthy planet.
What do you want people to know about pursuing a career in medicine/public health/higher education?
I use to think that working in a medical profession was the main type of service work in health care. It took time for me to realize that the delivery and attainment of health is dependent on a web of interrelated elements that cross disciplines and fields of practice. For Indigenous Peoples, so much of what makes us well is bound up in structural elements, so working inside a clinical exam room is not the only thing needed to make substantive change. We need all health system actors in addition to outside government and policymakers to work in relation if we really want to address the health inequities that exist in our communities. This means that there are, of course, so many different professions and fields of value that ultimately help our communities in service by bringing specific strengths to the table, essentially creating a synergy of potential and innovation. We need all angles in the game and this means no matter the profession or field chosen, there is the potential to affect great change in the world.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about my family. I look at my two daughters and think about the world they are living in now and what is to come. I think about their children and their grandchildren and the world they will inherit from us as we move on. I sat in on a presentation by a Maori Elder a few years ago who said, “at the end of my life, the only thing I want them to put on my tombstone is ‘I tried.’” I understand I only have one small place in this world, but it is my passion for my family, past and present, that ensures every day I try to do my part as an interconnected planetary citizen. And gosh, do I ever love reading! Nonfiction to the point of my husband raising eyebrows at me when I am spending my free time smiling on the couch reading about complexity science.
Anything else you want us to share?
We are in trying times right now, as a society. The pandemic has been so difficult for so many people, families, and communities. My Elders have been clear that this time we are in now was expected. It is a time for pause to reconsider our relationship to oneself, to each other, and to the planet. We do have a choice in how we co-create our world going forward.
Thank you Dr. Redvers!