Lana Ray Bridges Cultural Perspectives

Lana Ray Bridges Cultural Perspectives

“Within the aesthetic of beading, you don’t want similar colours next to each other because they become indistinguishable – I equate this with values like the need for balance and perspective in life.”

Lakehead alumna Lana Ray chose a career in research and social policy to promote wellness, in its broadest sense, for Aboriginal peoples.

Her work has encompassed health planning with First Nations communities, working to end violence against Aboriginal women, and fostering Aboriginal learning in postsecondary environments. For Lana, a member of the Lake Helen First Nation near Nipigon, Ontario, seeking out collective wisdom has been critical.

“I’m part of the Muskie Clan,” Lana says, “and one of our roles is to act as mediators. I try to bridge western and indigenous bodies of knowledge to create positive outcomes.”

Since graduating from Lakehead with a Master’s of Public Health in 2008, Lana has worked for the Northwest Local Health Integration Network and the Ontario Native Women’s Association. “Community-based research is the common thread throughout my endeavours,” she explains.

She’s now research project manager of Confederation College’s Centre for Policy in Aboriginal Learning, located in Thunder Bay, and is finishing a PhD in Indigenous Studies at Trent University. Her dissertation explores how to integrate Anishnaabe women’s knowledge into research.

“I’ve conceptualized my dissertation as a beading project – including beading my findings as different stories.” This imaginative approach is another way that Lana is enriching the social fabric of diverse communities.