In this episode in the spirituality and dementia series, we engage in a passionate discussion about spirituality, care, and support of people living with dementia from a lens of diversity and culture. This episode features Roberta Bishop and Elder Mary Wilson, hosted by Rev. Faye Forbes and Lisa Loiselle.
Roberta Bishop, Operations Manager at the Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg Manitoba has both professional and personal experience supporting those living with dementia. Professionally, she has witnessed the rapid decline of some members of Over the Rainbow, a social support group for 2SLGBTQ+ community members aged 55 plus or minus https://rainbowresourcecentre.org/support/groups/over-the-rainbow/#:~:text=A%20social%20support%20group%20for,Manitoba%20Association%20of%20Senior%20Centres. Her own experience with dementia on the personal side is with family members, including her Mother.
Elder Mary Wilson http://marywilson.ca, also from Winnipeg Manitoba is known to many as Grandmother Of Four Directions and Walks With Wolves. She is renowned in Canada and many parts of the world as a spiritual teacher, Spirit Walker, and Healer. As a traditional expert, Mary has touched many lives over the past forty years helping people heal, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. She is active in health research and has traveled worldwide presenting alternatives in Indigenous health. Mary shares her story of supporting her mother living with dementia in addition to a close friend who passed at a very young age from dementia. As a professional, it is her responsibility as a healer to also support community elders.
Although Roberta and Mary’s lenses are different, an important connection is the stigma and persecution 2SLGBTQ+ community members and indigenous Canadians have faced over many years. Both Roberta and Mary agree that individuals have to be respected and treated as individuals. It is important to bring people peace, joy, and happiness by continuing to provide them with the things they love and to continue to engage the spirit on one’s journey, whether that be dementia or another journey. They are both adamant that we need to stop hate and talk about love. We all need to recognize and acknowledge the hurt that has been inflicted on the 2SLGBTQ+ and Indigenous populations in Canada and to start the healing process. We can’t change history; however, we can learn from history so that history does not repeat itself!