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ZEKE Award: Honorable Mention

I am all of Creation

Erin Clark | Alberta, Canada

Russell Willier was hard to miss with his bright red jacket emblazoned with a Sucker Creek Cree Elders patch and his tall, muddy, rubber boots. He greeted his community with a smile, his mustache stained yellow from the cigarettes that regularly dangled from his mouth. Russell is known across western Canada and parts of the US as a powerful Cree medicine man, having been taught by elders throughout the provinces. But in recent months, cancer had spread throughout his body. Doctors told the 68-year-old that his chances of surviving were slim, but Russell continued to treat himself with his traditional medicine practices, which he had learned from his great-grandfather. “He’s healed thousands of people,” Russell’s niece said through tears. “He’s a medicine man. But he can’t heal himself.” Russell’s death was a massive loss to the Cree community as not many traditional healers remain. Russell's story is one about a powerful Cree healer epitomized by a man, railing against our common mortality.

Erin Clark





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