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Indigenous Perspectives on COVID-19 and Other Infectious Disease

 March 31, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm

Indigenous Perspectives on COVID-19 and Other Infectious Disease


All interested McMaster students, staff and faculty are invited to the McMaster Indigenous Students Health Sciences (ISHS) virtual speakers event with the Aunties Dandelion.

Date: Wednesday March 31, 2021

Time: 6:00-7:00PM EDT



The Aunties Dandelion will discuss the movie "VeRONAka," recently shown at the McMaster Indigenous Health Conference 2021. Analysis will be used to spur discussion about about Indigenous perspectives on COVID-19 and infectious disease.


The VeRONAka movie is a 10-minute comedy/drama with a documentary twist. The film is a fictionalized version of the true story of our clan mothers giving COVID-19 a Mohawk name so we are able to respect the illness, understand why it is here and then invite it to leave.

The main character - VeRONAka - is unleashed by the upheaval in the world and is terrorizing her community.

But she didn't count on the power of the Mohawk Aunties.

The film also features an audio interview with Wa’kerakátste Louise McDonald - the Mohawk Bear Clan clan mother from Akwesasne Mohawk Territory - who named the virus.

Created with all-Indigenous principle cast and crew on Rotinonhson:ni Territory - VeRONAka is a timely movie and one that can help all of us transform the fear and the chaos in the world. ​

Karenna'onwe – Dr. Karen Hill

Karenna’onwe (Gaw-law-naw-oo-way)– Dr. Karen Hill is a Mohawk physician from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is the mother of two sons and step mother to five daughters. She completed medical school in 2003 and Family Medicine Residency in 2005 - both from McMaster University. Her passion is to see Traditional Indigenous Knowledge return to the centre of life and healthcare for Indigenous people across Canada. This vision led her to co-create a collaborative practice with Traditional Medicine Practitioners at Six Nations called "Juddah's Place".

In 2015 Karen became the first recipient of the Thomas Dignan award for Indigenous Health conferred by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. In the same year she also received The College of Family Physicians Excellence Award for leading the way in Indigenous collaborative care in primary practice. Also, in 2016 she was honoured by McMaster University with a Community Impact Award.

In early 2020 Karen partnered with Kahsto'serakwathe (Gaw-Stow-say-la-gwa-tay) Paulette Moore – A Mohawk filmmaker to create “The Aunties Dandelion” media and research centre focused on supporting Indigenous embodiment of original instructions embedded in the traditional knowledge. Karen continues to practice consultative medicine at Six Nations and works with her colleague Dr. Amy Montour in the Indigenous Health Service at the Brantford General Hospital. She has completed 4 years apprenticeship in Traditional Indigenous Medicine and continues this learning along with Mohawk language classes as lifelong commitments.