Traditional ways of life while working in the north

Phyllis Austman loved working in northern Saskatchewan communities with their largely Aboriginal populations. Austman describes the culture change as challenging, but she loved the people and soon felt quite at home in the community. She learned quite a bit about the culture while she was there, even taking part in a sweat lodge and feasts.

Although the cultures of northern and southern Saskatchewan are quite different, modern medicine seems to be widely accepted across the entire province. Austman remembers that some of the elders in the north would reject her medicines, but most were quite receptive. Traditional medicines are still used in many of these communities. Austman was always respectful of this and would ask her patients if they had been using any kinds of traditional medicine. She emphasizes that it was not up to the medical personnel in northern communities to press modern medicines onto the culture. If the people wished to use traditional medicines, she, of course, would respect that decision.

Austman did not use the traditional medicines on her patients - she would follow her training and use the remedies that she had been taught. However, she does remember treating herself with a traditional plant that was said to aid in quelling a fever. She also took part in sweat lodges with other members of the community.

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