Third-year Kinesiology student Olivia Hickey knows she is young but says, “I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t making a difference in the world.”
Hoping to find a way, she came to GreenHouse with several ideas and a personal history that informs the project she has embarked on.
It was while Olivia was in high school that her mother found out her family was Métis. Identifying with that heritage, Olivia began volunteering at an Indigenous Centre in Kitchener, where she heard people talking about their desire for their own medical clinic.
While this was beyond the scope of what Olivia could do now, she wondered whether she might lay the foundation for a smaller-scale project, modeled after a similar project in northern Ontario: A hospital room designed around traditional First Nations medicine, where patients can seek healing as part of their stay in the hospital.
Olivia is developing her ideas for this project, and hopes to connect with local First Nations stakeholders by the end of her time at GreenHouse.
“What I’m doing is a positive mental health piece: Offering a space of healing where people who want to use traditional medicine don’t have to face racist, dismissive attitudes.”
She admits to fears (“Can I even do it? Am I capable? Do I know what I’m doing?”) but says that working together with a GreenHouse business coach and other GreenHouse students interested in mental health helps her examine what she is doing, be specific about her goals, and receive the support she needs to move forward with the project.
She is also excited as she sees the University of Waterloo acknowledging the traditional lands on which it is built and finding other ways to honour and recognize Indigenous cultures.
“This isn’t about me saying, ‘I’m great and here is a thing I made,’ but about giving back to the community.”