Iehnhotonkwas Bonnie Jane Maracle

Professional Biography

Iehnhotonkwas Bonnie Jane Maracle, Wolf Clan, Mohawk Nation at Tyendinaga Territory, holds a B.A. in Indigenous Studies from Trent University, a B.Ed. & M.Ed. from Queen’s University, and is a Ph.D. Candidate, Indigenous Studies, at Trent University. Bonnie is a Learning Strategist based both out of First Nations House and the Academic Success Centre on the St. George Campus at U of T, in addition to being an Instructor for the Certificate in Aboriginal Language Revitalization program, at UVic. In addition to all of this, Bonnie is on the Board of Tsi Tyonnheht Onkwawenna Language & Culture Centre in Tyendinaga, Ontario Native Literacy Coalition in London, is the Language Program Coordinator at Kanatsiohareke Community in NY, and finally, acts as a team writer at Ontario Teacher College for Additional Qualifications of Native Studies and Native Languages Guidelines.

Reflection Questions

Do you resonate with Iehnhotonkwas’s explanations of Indigenous spirituality? What does spirituality mean to you?

How might having an understanding of your ‘spirit’ help you live a healthier life?

What are some traditional values and beliefs from your own ancestral cultures that might improve your wellbeing?

Our relationship to time (i.e., whether we feel we have ‘enough’ time) is a big factor in feeling connected or disconnected from life. What tools do you use to help manage your time? How might the Medicine Wheel be a helpful tool?

How often do you get outside? How might you begin making more time to connect with nature in your daily schedule?

When have you felt most connected with nature? Where? Why?

Think about some of the current struggles you are facing. How can you understand this struggle as affecting body, mind, spirit, and emotions, and the interconnections between all four?

Further Resources

Click here to see the Ojibwe Medicine Wheel and learn more about Anishinaabek traditional wisdom.

Protecting Indigenous Languages: Watch this CBC interview with Iehnhotonkwas commenting on the significance of Google Earth’s project to preserve indigenous languages

Inclusive Education with Indigenous Content & Methodologies: In this talk, Iehnhotonkwas speaks about the distinctions between Western and Indigenous education systems, and how indigenous knowledge and pedagogy may be integrated into our dominant system. 

How Western Psychology Can Rip Indigenous Families Apart: An Interview with Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn. In this essay the author writes, “We can challenge the single view that permeates our practices in mainstream psychology, such as the over-reliance on a biomedical model — defining health and mental health as the absence of illness or disorder. Rather we think of individuals as holistic beings where mental health is only one aspect of emotional, spiritual, and physical health. These are not in isolation, but they are intertwined to a sense of place, to land, to the teachings of the land, to ancestral teachings, and to a sense of the history of that particular community.”

Introducing Iehnhotonkwas Bonnie Jane Maracle

Listen to Iehnhotonkwas talk about her work as the Indigenous Learning Strategist at the University of Toronto. By asking students where they come from and who their community is, as well as sharing about her own community, she is able to form a sense of connection with Indigenous students from all over.

Wellness through the Medicine Wheel

Iehnhotonkwas explains that an Indigenous perspective on wellness includes more than just taking care of the mind, but also the body and spirit. The Anishinaabe medicine wheel visually portrays the balanced aspects of self with four quadrants: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. When there is a blockage in one area, it affects all the others. As university students, we tend to focus on the mental, but it is important to understand our whole experience as affected by mental problems. Iehnhotonkwas says that the spiritual is found whenever we are able to ‘connect’ – with nature, with others, and so on. This connection is lost when we are mentally overburdened. 

Managing School Work and Projects with the Medicine Wheel

As students, we often feel pressure to complete our assignments as soon as possible, which can lead to anxiety and overwork. Iehnhotonkwas discusses the importance of taking a broader perspective, organizing your time over the course of a week, in order to break up your work into manageable sections. The medicine wheel can be used in this process to ensure that you are making time to balance all aspects of yourself, and also can be used longer term as a framework for one’s development. Towards the end, Iehnhotonkwas also mentions the importance of experiential, hands-on learning.  

Relating to the Natural World

Iehnhotonkwas reminds us that human beings are just another component of the natural world, and this is why being out in nature replenishes us. The earth nurtures us and gives us positive energy that cannot be received from manmade environments. Our role is to be caretakers in return, and we have failed to live up to that task. Yet no matter how badly we behave, the earth is there for us unconditionally.