Profile in Craft: Nel Wieman 1st Indigenous Female Psychiatrist in Canada

To tackle the wicked problems of our present and future, we need to embrace a strange, counter-intuitive irony: as organizations across all sectors continue to create and adopt technologies like artificial intelligence, employees need to stay relevant by increasing their subjective intelligence. My research on master craftsmen and how they gain mastery helps connect the dots on this new dilemma, and might be the place to seek initial solutions.

When it comes to open ended problem solving and learning to improvise with what we are given; master craftsmen have something to teach us. Having to work with a material where they cannot be sure what will happen is something they are used to. Combined with the more structured training and education offered to us today, improvisational thinking in the face of uncertainty is useful to leaders in any sector. Even in the face of countless books and articles about how important it is, most traditional business school programs and organizational training fail to address sophisticated thinking about ambiguous problems.

Listen to Dr. Cornelia Wieman, Canada's first Indigenous psychiatrist, and current Senior Medical Officer, Mental Health & Wellnessas at FNHA as she speaks about Indigenous perspectives in psychiatry and her own personal story. - via aboriginalhealthVCH

Nel Wieman is one of the survivors of the '60's Scoop'. She was taken from her biological parents at the age of three and adopted by a non-Indigenous family in Ontario. Nel Wieman went on to become the first Indigenous female psychiatrist in Canada.

Nel works with people in intensely distressing periods of their lives. She uses her training, but also who she is as a person to help and support her clients. When she got to medical school she learned she was the first female aboriginal psychiatrist in Canada.

She works at the Center for Addiction and Mental Heath and feels that in order to make an impact “you need to give something of yourself to the interaction.” Her patients are depressed and suicidal and have been in the emergency room for some type of crisis. She works intensely with people over a short period of time and finds her rewards in the gains they are able to make in that time frame.

Nel also teaches at McMasters University where she recruits students into the health sciences professions and helps nurture them through their education. She appreciates hearing people’s stories as it reinforces her culture’s oral tradition.

As she became more aware of indigenous health issues, she became more aware that mental health was a tremendous need. She hoped she could make an impact. Now she meets children in indigenous communities across the country and serves as a model of someone, like themselves, who has walked the path before them. She shows the meaning and importance of creating a path of support and guidance for others.

Christine Haskell’s research focuses on individuals dedicated to the craft of their professions, in pursuit of excellence, sustainability and integrity. Craftsmen and women use those principles to raise standards toward a better world. Her current work is featured in Look To Craftsmen Project. featuring the Profiles in Craft Series. You’ll find a trove of profiles of intriguing artisans and innovators spanning a wide variety of professions across the globe that illustrate her research with links to the full articles. Christine’s book The Future of Work Will Require Craftsmanship is due in late 2019. To understand more about Christine’s work, check out Our Current Problem.