Tansi, welcome to this written expression of what I know to be valuable teachings that were spoken and demonstrated by the late Joe P. Cardinal from Saddle Lake, Alberta. My name is Ross Hoffman. My family heritage is English on my mother’s side and German on my father’s side of the family. For many years I have been in the process of developing an understanding of Aboriginal healing and wellness. My learning, which has and will always be a work in progress, has arisen out of extensive research in both the western academic text-based scholarly tradition as well as experiential, community-based traditions of Indigenous knowledge. The most significant source of my understanding of these matters stems from my “work”1 with Joe P. Cardinal; and as each day passes this fact becomes even clearer to me. My intent in writing this piece is to honour his work and pass on some of the teachings he shared, to those who are ready to receive them.
One party may write a story, but one party’s story is no more the whole story than a cup of water is the river. (Sarris 1993, p. 40)
I include the words of the Pomo scholar Greg Sarris, because I want to stress that what I have written here is “one party’s story.” I am sharing with you my understanding of Joe’s teachings as they relate to individual healthand wellbeing. Any lack of understanding is my responsibility. I am very conscious of the fact that as a non-Aboriginal researcher my choice to write this piece certainly fits within the definition of a “Risky Story” (Davis, 2004). From my standpoint there is a far greater risk in choosing to remain silent and not honoring the relationship between Joe and I. My relationship with Joe was never based on research. In the beginning he was a teacher, a spiritual guide; later he also became a close friend; and further down the road our relationship deepened even further when he adopted me as his son.
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