First Nations Research Network

The nātawihowin (art of self-healing) First Nations Research Network is the only First Nations-specific health research network in Saskatchewan. Under the umbrella of FSIN’s Health and Social Development Commission (HSDC) and the Saskatchewan NEIHR, the Network will be strategically situated to provide support to First Nations health leaders and communities and to post-secondary researchers and students.

How was the name chosen?

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan and is a FMHRN primary partner. Following the protocols of the Cultural Responsiveness Framework, cloth and tobacco were given by Dr. JoLee Sasakamoose and Mr. Martin Bembridge (FSIN) to traditional bundle keeper, Alex Ahenakew, Ahtahkakoop First Nation.  Mr. Ahenakew is the second generation of Elders to work with the Cultural Responsiveness Framework and he was a key Knowledge Keeper at FSIN’s traditional wellness gathering in August 2019. Mr. Ahenakew provided the name, nātawihowin for the First Nations network. The translation of the name is “the art of self-healing” or to “seek out healing”, with a deeper meaning for out network of the convergence of western ways with Indigenous ways coming together to support each other’s healing. 

How do I say nātawihowin?

nātawihowin means the art of self healing in Cree. 

Listen to Cree Language Specialist Randy Morin to learn how to pronounce it! 


Scientific Directors

Holly Graham, RN, PhD, R.D. Psychologist

Dr. Holly Graham is a member of the Thunderchild First Nation, SK. She has worked as a Registered Nurse (RN) in a variety of northern communities, in addition to various other health care environments since 1985. Holly is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing, at the University of Saskatchewan and a CIHR Indigenous Research Chair in Nursing. She maintains an active practice as a Registered Doctoral Psychologist, working primarily with individuals who have experienced trauma and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Holly's research is focused on Indigenous health, mental health, and wellness.

JoLee Sasakamoose, PhD

Dr. JoLee Sasakamoose is Wellness Wheel’s Research Director, responsible for leading the Research Team in supporting Traditional ways of knowing alongside Western approaches to wellbeing. JoLee works tirelessly to stay on top of grant opportunities and is incredibly skilled at translating those opportunities into responsive community-led programming. JoLee has a knack for picking out valuable skills in others and bringing them on board to support the community. 

She is a proud Anishinabe (Ojibwe) with membership in M’Chigeeng First Nation in Ontario, an active citizen of Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, and an Associate Professor in Educational Psychology and Counselling at the University of Regina where she teaches Group Counselling, Counselling Girls and Women, Counselling Children and Youth, Indigenous Family Therapies, and Decolonizing Research Methodologies. She co-authored the Indigenous Cultural Responsiveness Theory and has an exceptional way of working in the “middle ground” between Western and Indigenous ways. 

When JoLee isn’t busy with Wellness Wheel she can be found gardening, spending time with her son, and volunteering with Elders in the community.

Jaris Swidrovich, PharmD

Dr. Jaris Swidrovich is an Assistant Professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto. He is a Saulteaux First Nations pharmacist from Yellow Quill First Nation. He is the first self-identified First Nations Doctor of Pharmacy in Canada and the first and only self-identified Indigenous faculty member in pharmacy in Canada. He received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the University of Saskatchewan and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Toronto and is currently working toward a PhD in Education at the University of Saskatchewan under the supervision of Dr. Margaret (Maggie) Kovach. He is active in the community and was named one of CBC Saskatchewan’s “Future 40” in 2016.


Community Advisory Council

The Community Advisory Council is made up of key stakeholders throughout Saskatchewan as listed below. The Council meets twice a year, and it provides high level oversight of the SK NEIHR, assists in the establishment of yearly First Nations specific mandates and work plans.


Includes representatives from:
  • Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations
  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Knowledge Keepers
  • Knowledge Users
  • Ex-officio members
  • Graduate students
  • Community-based organizations and other stakeholders

Elders Council

The Elders' Council consists of six First Nations Elders who will meet as needed to provide expert cultural guidance on complex health research topics. This council is accountable to First Nations Community Advisory Council and the Research Team.