Tuesday, July 6, 2010



My name is Jennifer Ashawasegai, and I'm one of the 'faces' of the Mental Illness Awareness Week Campaign.

This is my bio for the MIAW campaign:

Jennifer is an Anishinabek Nation citizen from Henvey Inlet First Nation, Ontario. She is a journalist who has written stories for North American Indigenous newspapers and is currently producing a national radio program reporting on Aboriginal news, culture and entertainment.

Jennifer also lives with bipolar disorder. From the age of 12, she experienced alternating periods of depression and extreme happiness. Jennifer sought professional help and combines medical treatment with traditional First Nations healing methods that focus on body, mind and spirit. Her connection with her culture and her two children keep her grounded and focused on her goal of wellness. Creative outlets like writing, photography and art, and participation in cultural ceremonies, help her manage her illness. She is also a proud member of women's hand-drum group Min We We. As a journalist, Jennifer has written about mental health issues to raise awareness and help reduce stigma. Jennifer has realized bipolar disorder does not define her, but it has shaped her life, and she has learned to live with it successfully. For Jennifer, Recovery is Possible.

How I became one of the 'faces'....

Since I'm a journalist, I was assigned to do a story on one of the previous 'faces' - Brian Noochtai from Whitefish Lake First Nation, a courageous, wise and gentle man. He had suffered depression most of his life. Through my interview, I found a lot of things in common with Brian, such as social anxiety in intimate settings, depression, and using humour to feel more at ease when anxious.

Once the interview was completed, I confided that I could identify with much of what he was talking about because I lived with bi-polar disorder.

He later decided to nominate me to become one of the national faces for the campaign, and I immediately agreed. It wasn't until later, when I wondered what the heck I got myself into....... because before becoming a national face, I had only told select people in my life that I had bi-polar disorder. (which probably explains a lot to people who know me, but didn't know about my disorder).

Please keep returning to my blog, as I will continue to post throughout the year.........

miigwetch (thank you)


1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennifer,
    I just read about the Mental Health Canada Post campaign and wanted to congratulate you in agreeing to be a national face for the campaign. Unfortunately, despite every Canadian either experiencing mental health issues themselves or knowing of someone close to them, there still exists some stigma. I also am wanting to learn more about indigenous peoples so went to the Henvey First Nation website. I recently started a blog too and was especially interested in finding authentic, first-hand information on the Inuit so I can improve my communication skills with people from this culture in my work (nurse) but think I need to learn more about all indigenous people in Canada. i look forward to following your's mine in case you are interested.