Healing Trails Program’s Janell Henry Visits Finland to Speak about Reconciliation and The Future of Transportation

Janell Henry, guest lecturer, presents for The Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology Department at the University of Oulu, Friday, February 14 2020 (Photo Courteous of Winnipeg Trails Association)

In the Ojibwe language, Miikana is the translated word for a road, a trail or a path.  In the cityscape and architecture, roads and trails have different meanings and two different budgets. While trails have the natural capacity to spark healthy attitudes by getting our bodies outdoors, in this city, machines get higher priority as a mode of transportation than humans, active transportation becomes active conservation and an act of defiance.  In our presentation, we will delve into the series of works under our Healing Trails project and explain how they are grounded in Indigenous Knowledge and best practices that have global influences.  The project is led by Adrian Alphonso and Janell Henry, supported by Anders Swanson and Dan Reihl.

“I came here to do primary research on winter and transportation and to connect, where I could, with the Saami people of Finland. One thing I’d like to bring home is the incredible networks of beautiful paths and bridges, and what I hope to share with Finland is a proposed way of looking at language as a source of knowledge reminding us of how we can and should move, and at trails development as leadership and an important way of reconnecting with the land.” 
– Janell Henry 

Info about the trip:

  • Finland is just beginning their own process of Truth and Reconciliation with the Indigenous People of Finland, the Saami People.
  • Janell presented her initial work on developing new frameworks for sustainable transportation planning and land stewardship as reconciliation at the international Winter Cycling Congress in Joensuu.
  • The current phase of research is Winter best practices and traditions, and Finland has one of the best environments for winter physical activity and access to nature in the world. Janell’s primary mode of transportation while in Oulu has been a bicycle, and she has seen firsthand the quality of infrastructure as well as the impacts of climate change. 
  • The University of Oulu is home of the Giellagas Institute for Saami Studies.
  • The Giellagas Institute is the only institution in Finland dealing solely with Saami research and education and therefore represents a national concentration of academic research and teachers.
  • Anni-Siiri Lansman, Director of The Giellagas Institute, met with youth leader, Janell Henry, to discuss Indigenous Politics and Language Revitalization and the resemblances between the Indigenous People of Finland and those of North America. 

About Healing Trails

Generously funded by the Winnipeg Foundation and the Trans Canada Trail and supported by the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba’s Green Team program, Healing Trails an Indigenous-led initiative to re-think transportation through policy work, capacity building, education and tangible real-world projects. 


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