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SUSTAIN Eyes: Two-Eyed Seeing

SUSTAIN Eyes: Two-Eyed Seeing
SUSTAIN Eyes Two-Eyed Seeing_Cheekbone Beauty


You have two eyes, but only look with one view.

The idea is not new, but the concept “Two-Eyed Seeing” was termed by author and Mi’kmaw Elder Dr. Albert Marshall (or as Etuaptmumk in the Mi'kmaq language). Two-Eyed Seeing nurtures the strengths of Western science and Indigenous knowledge for the benefit of all – for fish, people, and the planet. In short, we can define Indigenous knowledge as a cumulative relationship of wisdom, beliefs and practices among living things and their environment which evolve through cultural transmission. This concept allows us to acknowledge challenges of the ongoing legacy of colonialism, but also builds the condition for fostering resilience.

When we go to school and learn science, we only learn one way of doing science. Evidently, the science and management of conventional fisheries is dominantly based on a Western and Eurocentric paradigm. As the hierarchical worldview in Western fishing presents the illusion that nature is predictable and controllable, it proves to consequently result in a global system that is largely failing socially and ecologically. Meanwhile, Indigenous fisheries are often driven by ethics of sustainability rather than “fishing for business”. Western systematic thinking concludes to be quantitative, analytical, and factual, while Indigenous practices thrive on quality, sustainability, and intuition. Science alone is not going to save the natural world, a change in attitude and mindset will. If a hierarchical system of one being outperformed by another weren’t so important, and we treated fish just like us, we will do better at protecting the present and future of our well‐being - for all living things.

Caregiving is about Two-Eyed Seeing. Medical education plays a crucial role in preparing for our health care future. As we advance our health care through integrated and innovative research, Two-Eyed Seeing also proves beneficial within the field of medicine in addressing present and emerging health needs in our community. We can do so by simply understanding our connection to the land and geography, self-determination, reconciliation, and language. Consideration of these elements in our process will allow us to meaningfully address health disparities and provide effective clinical care. We express our deep gratitude to our medical education leaders, Indigenous faculty, and partner organizations to learning and doing more for Indigenous communities and for the health of all.

More than ever before, health researchers are increasingly supporting collaborators in combining the strengths of Western science and Indigenous approaches - which have proven to not only improve Indigenous children’s development and health, but benefit the stages of every child’s development. We've all heard it before: It is advised that child's educational environment should include the immersion of Indigenous traditional knowledge, language and culture of the land. It is more said than done. If we made a little more effort to integrate the perspective that everything is one and that everything is connected within a child’s early environment, it can also influence a reduction in illnesses like mental health and cardio-metabolic diseases. Integrating the strengths of both Indigenous knowledge and Western scientific methods will help evaluate existing early child health and parenting in the development and evaluation of new programs. In all, it’s exciting as a community to see Indigenous perspectives and approaches placing value at the forefront of health research! By applying ancient ways of knowing, we will create the support and leadership needed to build on a long history of research and prosper ethical advocacy in public health services.

As a society, we need to ask everyone to join us in practicing Two-Eyed Seeing. Through the creation and assemblage of different forms and perspectives, together, we create a new whole. While there’s opportunity to combine the power of First Nations and Western scientific approaches, we must not forget to open our hearts to other value systems and beliefs of other knowledge systems and cultures. This is not about crafting an eye pencil, this is about crafting a new outlook with an eye pencil. Next time you wear SUSTAIN Eyes, try and look with two eyes. Embrace the gift of multiple perspectives.



The team at Cheekbone Beauty


Sources: Etuaptmumk: Two-Eyed Seeing, Plant Institute, “Two‐Eyed Seeing”: An Indigenous framework to transform fisheries research and management, FNHA, University of Saskatchewan

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