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March 18, 2022

Spotlight on Grandmother Kate Brant

“Grandma Kate is the best. She has the best hugs, she makes the best bread and she’s the most loving person I have ever met,” says Dionne Nolan, an Anishinaabe community member who is also part of the FLA OHT.

The title and role of “Grandmother” is decided upon and given by the Indigenous community to recognize an elder. It is told that each elder has a speciality, a pocket of knowledge that can be shared amongst many. For Grandmother Kate, it’s her kind teachings and the way she carries loving thoughts and words.

Within the FLA OHT Grandmother Kathy plays a very important role as our Indigenous knowledge keeper who helps connect us with the Indigenous community, to see things through an Indigenous lens and to engage the Indigenous community in meaningful ways so we can co-design a health-care system that meets their needs; one that is welcoming, culturally appropriate and that embodies the Indigenous concepts of holistic health and wellbeing.

Grandmother Kate

“We are incredibly lucky to have Grandmother Kate as part of the FLA OHT,” says Dionne. This is a sentiment shared by many who have had the opportunity to listen and learn from Grandmother Kathy Brant as she provides opening and closing remarks for many of the FLA OHT’s virtual meetings.

Grandmother Kathy brings the world into context when she opens a meeting as she allows us to recognize events outside of ourselves and put things in the right order. “When you think of nature and you are part of nature, it becomes a circle. We are all part of that circle. Grandma Kate shows that circle and shows us how we can belong, be equal and have a voice,” says Dionne.

In her Mohawk language, Grandmother Kathy often does the opening for a Thanksgiving Address, Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen in Mohawk language, to give thanks to creation, the earth, the animals, each other and the creator. The Thanksgiving Address gives thanks to what we have been gifted on earth while having a sense of humility. And as Dionne says, Grandmother Kate carries these teachings through her words and her actions.

“Grandma Kate exemplifies the seven Grandmother or Grandfather teachings and lives them every day of her life,” says Dionne. In Anishinaabe culture, the seven Grandmother teachings impact our surroundings and provide guidance toward our actions that govern our individuality, our family life and our community life. The seven teachings are: humility, bravery, honesty, wisdom, truth, respect and love.

These teachings are evident in Grandmother Kathy’s recent work with the Kingston Community Health Centre vaccine clinic. As Dionne recalls, Grandmother Kate was greeting people as they came in, asking if they were Indigenous so she could spend time with them after they received their vaccine. Some people expressed concerns because although they were Indigenous they were not recognized as having Indigenous status or felt they were not enough. That’s when Grandma Kate would say “You are just enough, you are perfect and yes, you belong. You are one of us,” recalls Dionne. And this is how Grandma Kate sees the world, where everyone belongs. As Dionne adds “Kate’s heart is so big it comes out of her chest.”

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