Meet Priscilla Omulo, the new Women’s Coordinator at the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council

Read the transcript below to learn more about Priscilla and the work she’ll be doing with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council.

Interviewer: Can you tell me a bit about who you are and where you’re from?

My name is Priscilla Omulo. My maiden name is Bartleman, I’m from Tsartlip First Nation. I recently moved back home to the island after being on the lower Mainland for just over 10 years. I did my schooling and a lot of nonprofit work there. I moved back to attend the University of Victoria’s Law Program, and when I saw this opportunity come up I was like, “yes! This is a position I want to do”.

Interviewer: Can you share some of the background and experience that you’re bringing into this position at the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council?

Even from before I left the island. I was working with the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centre (BCAAFC) as their Youth Council Coordinator. So, working with youth across BC and across Canada, being able to organize meetings, and setting up social media. Well actually, back then it was mostly just the website, there wasn’t much social media.

I then started to work with Indigenous women, families and children, mostly around mental health and addiction because of my education in psychology. I’ve done a lot of group facilitation work, so being able to create a culturally-safe space. We would do talking circles and ceremonies with either smudging or cedar brushing, having elders and medicines available whenever needed. Being able to approach it with protocol, so having food and an understanding of trauma-informed practice.

As for activities and events, I’ve been trained in doing parenting programs, and wellness programs. So things like Wellbriety and Bringing Tradition Home. I also cedar weave! I am an artist, so bringing in some of the traditional practices as well and just really merging together our protocols, different forms of art and therapy, as well as some more foundational pieces into wellness, healing and grounding ourselves in some teachings.

Interviewer: What kind of work will you be doing with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council?

This project is called The Sharing Medicine Bundles project. It is a partnership between the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council and the University of Victoria, that focuses on women’s wellness. The project will gather stories on community wellness from W̱SÁNEĆ women participants who choose to share, while also participating in wellness/cultural activities.

I’m very excited about the role because it combines a number of things I’m passionate about. The things I have experience in are being able to facilitate groups, with a focus on wellness. For example, being able to look at healthy lifestyles, women’s wellness, and being able to combine that with cultural teachings and protocols. Kind of going back to our foundation of what we learned growing up through teachings and if some (women) didn’t have the teachings or they had forgotten, being able to bring that back. I also organize larger events like women’s gatherings.

Also, what I’m really excited about is being able to bring in some of the social media pieces and do some more work with report writing. I want to be able to give more information to the community about all of the things that the community said they were interested in. They (W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council) did a survey with the communities asking, “What is it that you would like to see come out of this work?”’. So, being able to say we heard from them and this is what they’re interested in; I’m very excited to do. I like to do social media posts. I like to be able to lead guided meditations. Also, being able to give people resources like, ‘This is 10 steps you can do to better release stress.’ kind of thing. So, tidbits of information here and there. You don’t need it to be full programming. So those, combined with doing some of the larger activities, I think are just going to be so much fun.

Interviewer: What kind of impact do you hope to have during your time working with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council?

It’s not so much the impact that I want to have; it’s being able to open this space. Just creating this space for people to gather and share in the teachings, share in experience together, and be together. As our community grows, we have a wealth of knowledge and teachings that I think just being able to give people space to access, in a way that’s really culturally aware, trauma-informed and low, to non-barrier when it comes to cost, transportation, child care and everything that can happen. A lot of people say “We want to go back to our roots and traditions.” But understanding that’s not always available because there are costs associated with everything that we do. Even if we’re going to pull cedar, we need to be able to have access to transportation, to the materials needed to do that. So, it’s not just the knowledge, it’s also what’s included in that. So I’m excited to be able to have the opportunity to bridge that gap and bring everybody together.

Interviewer: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Well, I am the mom of a four-year-old so that takes up a lot of what I do. I’m also a painter. I have a kind of mixed-medium style of painting with cedar weaving on canvas. I also like to provide Oracle card readings, which for me is a way to spiritually connect. That, and school take up a lot of my time.

Interviewer: Is there anything else you’d like community members to know?

Yeah, I think the one thing that we haven’t touched on yet is that this space is welcoming of all self-identified W̱SÁNEĆ members. So, knowing that we don’t have the colonial lines of Turtle Island. Being able to say “We have family in other areas of Turtle Island, but do identify as being members of WSANEC”. We’re not exclusive when we say that these events are being hosted for our territory. As well, it’s for all self-identifying women, 2-spirited, and non-binary people. Making sure that when we’re talking about these spaces being safe spaces, it’s not trying to be exclusive of anyone who identifies as being male. What it is, is just a space for women to gather when we’re learning women’s teachings. So when we’re talking about you know, moon times and pregnancy protocols and other things, we’re creating that safe space for women, 2-spirited and non-binary folks with shared experience in some of that.

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