kâ-nâkatohkêhk miyo-ohpikinawâwasowin (making oneself aware of good child growing and raising) – Applying an Indigenous worldview to prevention and early intervention strategies.


  • Leona Makokis
  • Ralph Bodor
  • Kaila Kornberger
  • Kristina Kopp University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work
  • Amanda McLellan
  • Stephanie Tyler


Prevention, Early Intervention, Indigenous Wisdom-Seeking, Indigenous Research, Evaluation


Given their complicity with the settler-colonial agenda, governments and service-providing agencies must do more than acknowledge the harm inflicted upon Indigenous families and communities. These organizations must intentionally engage in meaningful change by learning how to provide services that prevent further harm and authentically support Indigenous wellness perspectives and healing practices. It is in this spirit and in support of these aims that the resource, kâ-nâkatohkêhk miyo-ohpikinawâwasowin (Making oneself aware of good child growing/raising), was created. Recognizing the inadequacy of Western concepts, beliefs, and values to effectively evaluate the impact of Indigenous-designed services, this resource is based on nehiyaw (Cree) perspectives and teachings and encompasses ceremony, language, values, and beliefs that support the resiliency and healthy development of Indigenous children and families. This article describes the context of kâ-nâkatohkêhk miyo-ohpikinawâwasowin’s creation, provides a summary of the framework, and highlights its current and potential impacts for program policy and evaluation, as well as for program funders.

Author Biographies

Leona Makokis

Dr. Leona Makokis, EdD, is a member of the Kehewin Cree Nation and has dedicated her life to supporting the growth of programming that balances iyiniw language and worldview with contemporary experiences. Dr. Makokis was the nocikwesiw for this project, providing guidance and leadership to the team. Dr. Makokis is the former president of University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills and her contributions have been widely recognized including an Honorary Degree from the University of Calgary and an lndspire Award, (formerly the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards) for outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of Indigenous Education.

Ralph Bodor

Dr. Ralph Bodor, PhD, RSW, is an Associate Professor with the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary. For the past twenty years, Dr. Bodor has allied with the University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills to develop and deliver culturally-relevant social work education and complete numerous research projects and program evaluations using Indigenous methodologies. In 2010, Dr. Bodor was ceremonially given his nehiyaw (Cree) name, to honour his contributions to and relationship with the iyiniw community. Dr. Bodor’s work has also received awards including the University of Calgary Native Centre’s, Chief John Snow Award and the Killam Award for Innovative Teaching.

Kaila Kornberger

Kaila Kornberger, CYC, MSW, is a Métis-Cree woman from Edmonton, Alberta with ancestral ties to the Red River Metis. Kaila’s career began in child protection before she shifted her focus to bringing an Indigenous worldview on health and wellbeing into academia, organizations, and government.  More recently, Kaila had the privilege of centering her MSW education on restoring nêhiyaw birthing practices through the stories and teachings of her people. Kaila continues to learn and grow through the teachings of her ancestors, which she applies to her social practice.

Amanda McLellan

Amanda McLellan, MSW, RSW, is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta with ancestral ties to the Red River Métis and the Peguis First Nation. Amanda’s career as a social worker has centered on bringing the experiences of Indigenous peoples into academia and provincial government programs and policies. Through her work, Amanda had the great honour of supporting the delivery of the Government of Alberta’s apology to ‘Sixties Scoop’ survivors in 2017.  Inspired by the strength of her grandmothers, Amanda continues the legacy of her ancestors by nurturing all children and families through advocacy, storytelling, research and education. Amanda acknowledges the traditional territories of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations and lives in gratitude to all Coast Salish people who are the original keepers of the land she calls home in Victoria, B.C.

Stephanie Tyler

Stephanie Tyler, MSW, RSW, is a nisoyahk ohci (bi-racial) third-year PhD Candidate with the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work. Her doctoral studies center on decolonizing social work education through the honoring and strengthening of Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing. She has spent the last eight years working with the Indigenous wisdom-seeking team co-led by Dr. Leona Makokis and Dr. Ralph Bodor, focused on the areas of Indigenous child welfare, Indigenous evaluation, and Indigenous wisdom-seeking processes. As a sessional instructor, Stephanie is intentional about using pedagogical approaches grounded in Indigenous story, language, and ceremony.


Abe, J., Grills, C., Ghavami, N., Xiong, G., Davis, C. and Johnson, C. (2018). Making the

invisible visible: Identifying and articulating culture in practice‐based evidence. American Journal of Community Psychology, 62: 121-134. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12266

Anderson, A. & Spence, C. (2008). Social indicators in surveys of urban Indigenous residents in Saskatoon. Social Indicators Research, 85 (1): 39 – 52.

Assembly of First Nations (2007). First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey. www.rhsers.ca/sites/default/files/ENpdf/RHS_2002/rhs2002-03-the_peoples_report_afn.pdf

Assembly of First Nations (2018). Getting the relationships right: Health governance in the era of reconciliation. Final Report of the First Nations Health Transformation Summit. afn.ca/policy-sectors/health/#.

Baskin, C. (2009). Evolution and revolution: Healing approaches with Aboriginal adults. In R. Sinclair, R., M. A. Hart, and G. Bruyere (Eds.), Wícihitowin: Aboriginal social work in Canada, (pp. 133–152). Fernwood.

Baskin, C. (2011). Strong helpers’ teachings: The value of Indigenous knowledges in the helping professions. Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Brady, M. (1995). Culture in treatment, culture as treatment: A critical appraisal of developments in addictions programs for Indigenous North Americans and Australians. Social Science and Medicine, 41 (11): 1487–1498.

Burke, S. (2018). Supporting Indigenous social workers in front-line practice. Canadian Social Work Review, 35 (1): 5–25.

Chandler, M. J., & Dunlop, W. (2015) Cultural wounds demand cultural medicines. In M. Greenwood, S. de Leeuw, N. M. Lindsay & C. Reading (Eds.), Determinants of Indigenous Peoples' Health: Beyond the Social, 78–89. Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Chilisa, B. (2012). Indigenous Research Methodologies. Sage.

Dion Stout, M. (2015). atikowisi miýw-āyāwin, Ascribed health and wellness, to kaskitamasowin miýw-āyāwin, achieved health and wellness: Shifting the paradigm. In M. Greenwood, S. de Leeuw, N. M. Lindsay and C. Reading (Eds.), Determinants of Indigenous Peoples' Health: Beyond the Social, (pp. 143–151). Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Dumbrill, G. C. and Lo, W. (2015). Adjusting a power imbalance: There is no anti-oppression without service users’ voice. In J. Carrière and S. Strega (Eds.), Walking this path together: Anti-racist and anti-oppressive child welfare practice (2nd ed.), ). (pp.124–138). Fernwood.

Echo-Hawk, H. (2011). Indigenous communities and evidence-building. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 43 (4): 269–275.

Fiedeldey-Van Dijk, C., Rowan, M., Dell, C., Mushquash, C., Hopkins, C., Fornssler, B., Hall, L., Mykota, D., Farag, M., & Shea. B. (2016). Honoring Indigenous culture-as-intervention: Development and validity of the Native Wellness Assessment. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 16 (2): 181–218.

First Nations Health Authority (2014). Traditional Wellness Strategic Framework. fnha.ca/WellnessSite/WellnessDocuments/FNHA_TraditionalWellnessStrategicFramework.pdf#search=traditional%20models%20of%20wellness.

Gone, J. P. (2019). Considering Indigenous research methodologies: Critical reflections by an Indigenous knower. Qualitative Inquiry, 25 (1): 45–56.

Government of Alberta (2012). Prevention and Early Intervention Framework for Children, Youth and Families. Alberta Human Services. https://open.alberta.ca/publications/prevention-and-early-intervention-framework-for-children-youth-and-families

Government of Alberta (2019). Well-being and resiliency: The miyo resource – kâ nâkatohkêhk miyo-ohpikinawâwasowin. https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/9781460143384

Government of Alberta (2019). Well-being and resiliency: A framework for supporting safe and healthy children and families. https://open.alberta.ca/publications/9781460141939.

Hart, M. A. (2009a). For Indigenous people, by Indigenous people, with Indigenous people: Towards an Indigenist research paradigm. In R. Sinclair, M. A. Hart and G. Bruyere (Eds.), Wícihitowin: Aboriginal Social Work in Canada, (pp. 153–169). Fernwood.

Hart, M. A. (2009b). Anti-colonial Indigenous social work: Reflections on an Aboriginal approach.” In R. Sinclair, M. A. Hart and G. Bruyere (Eds.), Wícihitowin: Aboriginal Social Work in Canada, (pp. 25–41). Fernwood.

Howell, T., Auger, M., Gomes, T., Brown, F. L., & Young Leon, A. (2016). Sharing our wisdom: A holistic Aboriginal health initiative. International Journal of Indigenous Health, 11 (1): 111–132.

Jude, M.E. (2016). Thinking beyond an evidence- based model to enhance Wabanaki health: Story, resilience and change. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Maine.

Kovach, M. (2009). Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations, and contexts. University of Toronto Press.

Linklater, R. (2014). Decolonizing trauma work: Indigenous stories and strategies. Fernwood.

Macdonald, D. & Wilson, D. (2016). Shameful neglect; Indigenous child poverty in Canada. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/shameful-neglect

Makokis, L., Bodor, R., Goulet, S., MacArthur, C., Barker., C., & Perrett, S. (2016). Indigenous program indicators. In R. C. Bodor (Ed.) Indigenous Social Work Practice: Creating Good Relationships (2nd ed.) (pp. 255-285). University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills.

Makokis, L., Bodor, R., Kornberger, K. & Kopp, K. (2020a). Well-being and Resiliency: The miyo Resource- kâ-nâkatohkêhk miyo-ohpikinawâwasowin. Government of Alberta. https://open.alberta.ca/publications/9781460143384

Makokis, L., Bodor, R., Tyler, S., McLellan, A., Veldhuisen, A., Kopp, K., McLeod, S. &

Goulet, S. (2020b). iyiniw tapwewin ekwa kiskeyihtamowin. In L. Makokis, R. Bodor, A. Calhoun, & S. Tyler. (Eds.). opihkinawâsowin: Growing a child: Implementing Indigenous ways of knowing with Indigenous families. Fernwood Publishing.

Marks, E., Cargo, M. and Daniel, M. (2007). Constructing a health and social Indicator framework for Indigenous community health research. Social Indicators Research, 82: 93 – 110.

Montgomery, H. M., Felix, A.J., Felix, P., Kovach, M. & Prokop, S.T. (2016). Saskatchewan First Nations: Researching ourselves back to life. In H. M. Montgomery, D. Badry, D. Fuchs, and D. Kikulwe (Eds.), Transforming Child Welfare: Interdisciplinary Practices, Field Education and Research, (pp. 43–58). University of Regina Press.

Naquin, V., Manson, S. M., Curie, C., Sommer, S., Daw, R., Maraku, C., Lallu, N., Meller, D., Willer, C., & Deaux, E. (2008). Indigenous evidence-based effective practice model: Indigenous leadership in action. International Journal of Leadership in Public Services, 4(1), 14-24.

Pace, T. M., Robbins, R. R., Choney, S. K., Hill, J. S., Lacey, K., & Blair, G. (2006). A cultural-contextual perspective on the validity of the MMPI-2 with American Indians. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 12(2), 320–333. https://doi.org/10.1037/1099-9809.12.2.320

Richmond, C. (2015). The relatedness of people, land, and health: Stories from Anishinaabe elders., 47–63. Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Saini, M. (2012) A systematic review of Western and Aboriginal research designs: Assessing cross-validation to explore compatibility and convergence. National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health.


Steinhauer, D. & Lamouche, J. (2015). miyo-pimâtisiwin ‘A good path’: Indigenous knowledges, languages and traditions in education and health.” In M. Greenwood, S. de Leeuw, N. M. Lindsay and C. Reading (Eds.), Determinants of Indigenous Peoples' Health: Beyond the Social, 152–162. Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Strega, S. & Brown, L. (2015) Research as resistance: Revisiting critical, Indigenous and anti-oppressive approaches. Canadian Scholars.

Thomas, R., (Qwul’sih’yah’maht) & Green, J. (Kundoqk) (2015). Indigenous children in the centre: Indigenous perspectives on anti-oppressive child welfare practice. In J. Carrière (Sokhi Aski Esquao) and Strega, S. (Eds.), Walking this path together: Anti-racist and anti-oppressive child welfare practice (2nd ed.), 25–42. Fernwood.

Trocmé, N., Tourigny, M., MacLaurin, B. & Fallon, B. (2004). Major findings from the Canadian incidence study of reported child abuse and neglect. Child abuse & neglect. 27. 1427-39. 10.1016/j.chiabu.2003.07.003.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015). Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action Report. trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf

Smith, L. T. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples (2nd ed.). Zed Books.

Wilson, S. (2008). Research is Ceremony – Indigenous Research Methods. Fernwood Press.