Andrea Menard x Marc Bhalla academic collaboration that explores how to be an authentic ally to Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. Established 2021.

John Bigstone (osow kihew   ᐅᓱᐤ ᑭᐦᐁᐤ) is a Cree Elder who resides in Wabasca, a community situated in North-Eastern region of Alberta. He speaks the Cree and English language fluently and is a member of the Bigstone Cree Nation. His Cree ancestry has many generations of leaders and ceremonial holders. Following the legacy of his proud heritage, John is also a traditional knowledge keeper and ceremonial holder.

His professional background includes a bachelor of social work degree from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan. He was instrumental in the development and management of the Mental Health Program for the Bigstone Cree Nation. He was a mental health counsellor for many years; he has a background in individual, family and group counselling. He has spent many years training as a healing & wellness workshop facilitator; he has extensive experience working within First Nations Communities.

John is also a Reiki Master practicing the art of energy healing. He is also a member of an Elders Committee for the Bigstone Cree Nation Restorative Justice program.

John is a Residential School Survivor; at the age of six he entered the St. Martin Residential School where he was a resident for the next seven years. While in this institution he was mentally, physically, and emotionally abused. Following the trauma of this experience he led a life of self-destructive behaviour.

Thirty years ago, John went on a quest to find his Woodland Cree identity.  His search led him back to his traditional Cree land teachings and ceremonies. As he began to heal his childhood emotional wounds and traumas as he learned about his place in creation and the sacredness of all life. John is passionate about his teachings and cares deeply about mother earth and all that dwells upon her. He walks his life journey based on the spiritual principles of love, kindness, compassion, respect, humility and courage; the teachings that he shares reflect this philosophy.

John's Cree spirit name is osow kihew (Golden Eagle).