107 – Life and OT in the Arctic ft Rachel Schooley

On Occupied we get to speak to a lot OT’s from all over this amazing world but when I heard that there were OT’s in the Arctic I was blown away! This is why I had to bring in Rachel Schooley on to explore this very unique part of the world to practice in. Exploring how Rachel navigates living on traditional peoples land and working with their populations. This convo was absolutely eye opening and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Look after yourself, look after others and always keep Occupied


If you want even more valuable content join <<Occupied Plus+ on Patreon>> for bonus podcast episodes, resources, mentorship and much much more!


Brock Cook 0:00
Have you ever been to the Arctic? Have you ever worked in the Arctic? Have you ever even considered what an OT might do in the Arctic? Well, this episode is gonna hopefully shed some light on that, as I had the amazing Rachel skoolie come in and talk about her job doing exactly that. The Arctic OT, we discuss a lot of the challenges benefits of this very unique environment. Get a My name is Brock Cook, and welcome to occupied. In this podcast, we’re aiming to put the occupation in occupational therapy, we explore the people, topics, theories and underpinnings that make this profession so incredible. If you’re new here, you can find all of our previous episodes and resources that occupied podcast.com. But for now, let’s roll the episode. Yeah, so

Rachel Schooley 1:04
I was working in group homes for many years, kind of, you know, between my teens into my 20s, and have done a degree in sociology and women’s studies, that was my undergraduate degree. And my partner had just finished a degree in biology and was applying to become an OT, and I had no idea what ot was at that time. After a bit of investigation, yeah, it just seemed like all the parts of the job I already had, that I loved the most really like finding things that were meaningful for folks that are improved quality of life and bring joy to activity. And so I thought I would apply as well. And we actually ended up doing the OT program at the same time with a with a baby and it was great. You know, I learned a lot and definitely opened my eyes to a lot of different parts of ot some some that really fit well with what I wanted to do with my life and others not so much. But I think that’s the beauty of the profession, too, is that you can kind of make it fit with with what you’re looking for, in some circumstances, others maybe not so much.

Brock Cook 2:24
Yeah, definitely. And that’s something I try and tell people a lot is that it isn’t, I don’t view it as sort of this unique, while it is unique, but this sort of very individualized profession. It’s kind of something that you combine with skills that you already have, or experiences you’ve already had, and then you turn it into whatever you want.

Rachel Schooley 2:46
Absolutely. Yeah. And it’s interesting, because, you know, my first year of our ot program, and it’s a master’s level program in Canada, I guess, probably all over the place it is. But I thought like what have I done? Just doing, you know, anatomy courses, and like I said, Bachelor of sociology and women’s studies, like never touched anatomy with a 10 foot pole. That’s no, not nominated. Yeah, exactly. And it’s pretty intense. Like we had three months to learn the entirety of it. And I felt a little bit like my first placement was on stroke rehab, and I really did enjoy it I loved. And because I had the experience with the group homes, I was trusted to do the transfers and different parts of the placement that maybe if I were a fresh grad with no work experience I would have been able to do and so that was really great. But my second placement, student placement that I had was at the AIDS committee of Kitchener Waterloo. And so working with folks that, you know, were living with HIV, and it was more of a systems level placement. So less clinical work, but more looking at like, how are we informing the programming that’s available to these folks and speaking to policymakers and so that was like my first dose of, of systems level OT and I loved it, and I love the social justice components that that I could dive into with ot. And it kind of just snowballed from there. My next placement was with the hepatitis C clinic who I actually ended up working for after graduation. They have an amazing mobile health unit. And so yeah, yeah.

Brock Cook 4:46
What I’ve never heard of it working on a health clinic, what’s what’s the OTS role on

Rachel Schooley 4:55
the clinic itself, you know, it has the medical side of things. But because, you know, the people that are most at risk for hepatitis C, or those who, you know, are using intravenous drug because and maybe unstably housed or or houseless. And so a big part of my role there was exploring, I mean, a big part of it was really exploring what it does, because there was no team working there when I did my student placement. And so it was doing a lot of outreach with this incredible team, like Dream Team, and they had a mobile health unit that would go out when I was there, I think it was only once or twice a week in the evenings. And they would literally meet people where they were at. So we’d go to various parks or whatever, and provide, you know, harm reduction supplies, but also just necessities of daily living. And my role was like a slow, it was a slow roll out. So initially, like gaining trust of folks, but then really, like, there was one fellow who was just kind of like always tapping on things and, and got to know him a little bit and found out that he used to play the drums and really enjoy playing the drums and found that was really soothing. And so like, I didn’t need to talk about what occupational therapy was right? Like, that wasn’t important, but how do I help facilitate access to this occupation that’s meaningful for him?

Yeah, and so that was kind of it, I did a bit of support coordination for them after graduation. So not all, specifically, OT but there was a lot of cognitive component to and, you know, working with folks on this harm reduction idea of, Okay, if you want to, you know, use less substance in your life, what, what can you do during that time that will be enjoyable for you and will make, you know, the reduction of substance use more attainable? It was awesome. I love that job is great.

Brock Cook 7:03
So that that harm reduction thing, as I assume were you and Rina connected

Rachel Schooley 7:08
yes, yes. Yeah, it’s funny, you know, I didn’t I until I listened to her episode with you, I didn’t realize that she was, you know, the moderator for harm reduction ot or whatever the Facebook group is. I remember that being kind of an early connection for me with my old Facebook profile that I’d left behind a couple years ago, but because I really at that time, couldn’t I didn’t have any connections of other OTS doing the work. And I remember even asking my call, like, how do I document my interactions with people when they don’t trust enough to even give me their name? Well, their health? You know, like, I don’t need to know how, and they were like, well, if they’re not giving you their name, like are they really in a place where they should be getting occupational therapy services not struck me a lot is like, maybe there needs to be a change in our profession a little bit, because I think anybody could use occupational therapy services, and everyone is deserving of them. But especially folks who are super marginalized, like we have this ability to kind of assess the situation in a holistic way and and figure out the best means of support moving forward, and it could be delegation, you know, like, connecting the person to a social worker connecting them to support coordination and connecting them to health care. But I think

Brock Cook 8:36
Yeah, yeah,

Rachel Schooley 8:37
I think ot I’m glad to see it moving in that direction a little bit or not, you know, I’ve chatted with Rina, a bit about it as well. Because it was a huge area of passion of mine before moving up here. And it remains a huge area passionate, it fits whatever geographical area you’re in. So yeah.

Brock Cook 8:57
So you made mention of it just then when you said moving up here, and that was one of the reasons why we are why your account on Instagram originally caught my, my eye and what we originally connected over and what I wanted to have a chat with you about. So your Instagram account is Arctic ot. And I was like, that sounds interesting. Because I feel like the majority of the world probably outside of your area of the world when they think of the Arctic they’re either gonna think of Polo Santa. So are you able to explain I guess why you are called the Arctic OT?

Rachel Schooley 9:39
Yeah, why am I Well, I mean, I guess I was looking for like a simple way to connect with other OTS and hoping really to connect with other OTS working in the circumpolar region because we’re You know, in, in this entire region where I’m in right now, there’s three of us, and one is my partner, and myself and then another fellow. And I think we’re pretty limited in terms of ot support or the type of work that we’re able to do. And so I was really looking to connect with other people living and working in the solar circumpolar region and ended up connecting a bunch of people that don’t, which is great, too. I’m really grateful for the connections and I’m not great at Instagram. Look, I don’t know that it was a super thougthout handle or ‘

Brock Cook 10:41
I don’t think anyone.

Rachel Schooley 10:43
Yeah, well, Iread your little post.

Brock Cook 10:45
I think everyone’s just like,

Rachel Schooley 10:46
OT’s are terrible Influencers. And yeah, yeah, it’s Yes. Yeah, so I think I wanted an easy way to kind of explain where I am. The work I’m doing. I, you know, want to make it clear that I’m a settler, I’m not an indigenous person living up here. And so my knowledge is limited, but growing. I’m grateful to be learning quite a bit. Living up here, but yeah, so we’ve been here for about a year and a half now. Not too long. And we live about I’m terrible with distances. We’re about 250 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle.I think so.

Brock Cook 11:35
Kilometres or miles?

Rachel Schooley 11:36
kilometers. Close.

Brock Cook 11:39
Okay. Good. Yeah. The real the real unit of measurement.

Rachel Schooley 11:45
Sorry, to the American OTs. Yeah. So yeah, we’re about an hour and a half drive from the Arctic Ocean. And last summer, you know, because of pandemic, we we didn’t leave the territory we stayed put, which was awesome. But, you know, our beach day was at the Arctic Ocean, which is a bit different than any beach day that I’ve had before. But it’s pretty special place.

Brock Cook 12:12
I can’t actually even picture a coming from Australia, a beach day in the Arctic. That is I like two things that I can’t compete being put together.

Rachel Schooley 12:25
Yeah, I mean, if it’s, it’s a sunny summer day, then you better hope it’s windy, because the bugs are like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. But yeah, and you know, some people swim. I have not so swam in the Arctic Ocean, but some people do. Um, but it is you still get that feeling of being close to the wire. And yeah.

Brock Cook 12:49
I still can’t comprehend it. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve just got a very concrete view of what a beach looks like. And I can’t I’m gonna have to Google it and look it up.

Rachel Schooley 13:00
Send you I’ll send you a picture. It’s Rocky, like it’s a rock.

Brock Cook 13:05
Yeah. So it’s not saying we have some beaches that are like that. Some beaches that are made, or like broken up coral, and shells and rocks and that sort of stuff. They’re not all like, they’re not all like you see on postcards where they’re like, right, and then that kind of stuff. That’s probably actually the well, not the minority, but not them. Not all of them anyway. So just to like, I guess clear it up in my head, like, where, and this is gonna sound like a really dumb question. But where is the Arctic?

Rachel Schooley 13:38

Brock Cook 13:39
Where are you?

Rachel Schooley 13:41
Yeah. So there. I mean, there is kind of this Arctic Circle that goes around our globe. And so the circumpolar region or the the Arctic regions are really, you know, this far north area of the earth, and it runs through Canada and Europe and Russia, Alaska. And so yeah, we’re just above that. I don’t know what the latitude or longitude I don’t know those things. But yeah,

Brock Cook 14:15
That’s alright. I just I just think I I get the feeling on something that I get the feeling is that I always thought that it was kind of like this separate landmass, like a little hat on top of the earth where it actually is. It actually extends lower than that into a lot of the countries sort of up that way, into Canada and Russia and that sort of stuff that does come along the Arctic area, the Arctic Circle does come lower than I had originally thought

Rachel Schooley 14:46
a large part of Canada is within the Arctic Circle. And, you know, unfortunately, it it gets quite overlooked like even within Canada. I didn’t know much about this area. The country, you know, long before moving up here, and which is a shame, because it’s a pretty incredible part of our culture. It’s a pretty incredible part of the land that’s just really like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. And so really grateful to be up here and experiencing it and going to some pretty remote areas that I don’t think I would have had to go to if I weren’t up here working as an OT. Yeah, yeah, like I’ve I’ve flown to islands, in action, that are above the tree line. And it’s just like, you’re on a movie set for a different planet or something like it, to not be to not have any trees. And you can see so far, like, you know, and especially if it’s snow covered, like you really feel like you’re on the moon or something I don’t I’ve never been on the moon. But that’s what I imagine. And the lighting is so beautiful. Like it can be really eerie, especially during cooler night when the sun doesn’t come up above the horizon. And for us, that’s a period of about 30 days where we don’t have that there’s still that Twilight. And so the hours of the day where we do have daylight, there’s this kind of like, yeah, it’s a really beautiful lighting. And then in the summer, we have the midnight sun. And so the sun doesn’t set for about cost, like 50 days. And yeah, those are some pretty incredible like to 8am skies. Yeah, at all. It does not set it stays above the horizon. Mmm hmmm and so like even thinking about how…..

Brock Cook 16:53
So it gets like low but it never goes below? Wow.

Rachel Schooley 16:57
Yeah, that’s right. And you know, at the peak of it, it doesn’t even really get that low. Like I have pictures of the Sun taken 2am or 3am. At the peak of Midnight Sun time where it’s still well above, like, it’s, it’s like midday sun shining very bright, can make it very hard to sleep. You know, and that’s something that I’ve learned a lot as an OT appear, or things like this, that I’ve never thought about, but like, how does pull our night or Midnight Sun impact a person’s occupation, like sleep, of course, but anything else, there’s just a different timeline. And in general were, in the summer, folks can be out hunting or out on the land. And sleep isn’t really something that they worry about, like they could just continue on with their day, because the days continue on and on without a break for a very long time. And so even like the structure of our society, places like it, I don’t know, plays out a little bit differently. Like there’s just not, there’s not this nine to five mentality because that’s not the reality. I mean, there are 95 systems and structures because we live within a, you know, a colonial system and adhere to the structures of everywhere else. But I think for people here, you know, that doesn’t always work and, and hopefully, and especially with the pandemic, you know, there have been opportunities, we had incredible programming with the new reality and enriching governments up here, where they received funding to essentially send people out onto the land to the camps with the first wave of COVID-19. And so people were able to get back to their whaling camps and their, their hunting camps for the first time in really long time. And it’s a really, you know, it impacted their well being and mental health in such positive ways to be able to reconnect to the land. And so that’s been super influential as well, for me, as an OT, who doesn’t really have that background like I sure I have gone to I enjoy being out in the forest or whatever. But this very strong step here, especially such a foreign land to me, has been really interesting. And, like such an honor to be able to kind of witness and learn from

Brock Cook 19:43

Rachel Schooley 19:44
yeah, it’s a really, it’s a really amazing place.

Brock Cook 19:49
It sounds so different and what you were saying about how it’s kind of like, I guess the, the daylight hours because it’s kind of restructured how society operates. that aspect of it is fascinating to me. So is it like, obviously for the times when the sun goes down, like, if you don’t have a, you know, a nine to five type job, there’s really no structure to when you would be asleep. And when you would be awake. Does that doesn’t that throw I would imagine that would sort of throw a lot of the general, you know, social organization out the window. Like, even in Australia here, for example. You know, shops are open, whatever their time, say, let’s just say nine to five, and for a lot of people, so that’s the period when they would go out and when they would do errands and that sort of stuff, I’m assuming, is it? Is there any kind of structure? Other obviously, the daylight isn’t giving you any time constraints on, on when to do things? Is there anything that that is, like other shops only open for certain hours? And that kind of stuff?

Rachel Schooley 21:09
No, everything is still running kind of, as usual. Um, but it’s interesting, you know, and I don’t want to speak too much to like, the indigenous experience for folks up here, because I not, that’s not my conversation to have. But I do wonder about, like, the structure of just kind of staying alive on this land for millennia. You know, and during the, the times when it wasn’t a colonized space, like hunting and trapping, and cutting wood, and staying alive required a lot of structure. And so I don’t think that the daylight hours, you know, I think they’re, you know, it, definitely things are changing. But also the occupations in the winter are so different than the occupations in the summer. And for folks who, you know, who, whose ancestors have been here for millennia, like I think there’s a real there’s a real knowledge of just how to operate up here and what needs to be done, but I’ll be supporting some land based programming and a couple of weeks actually, were really like the occupation. The occupational components of it are like, how do we stay alive when it’s minus 40. And we’re out on the tundra with Canvas tents, like hunting and trapping, we need to be making fires, we need to be tending to the tents, like all of these different things that I’ll be learning about as I go, because I really don’t, I don’t know. I don’t like I would be useless on my own. And so I think the structure that that we would assume kind of like, Oh, my gosh, okay, well, if there’s no daylight, you could just sleep the day away. But that’s not that’s not inherent for folks here. I think that it’s kind of like in their blood to be working pretty hard to survive. And yeah, it’s, it’s really interesting to witness and like I said, I think you’re who have come from the south, there are a lot of government employees that work up here. Teachers, people that work at the hospital, but there’s a lot to learn from the folks who have lived up here and their families have lived up here for generations. Because, you know, I think otherwise we’d be, you’d be pretty screwed for lack of a better term.

Brock Cook 24:00
Yeah, I can’t even comprehend negative 40. I just had a look at like, what the temperature today and it’s like, 30. So that’s like 70 degrees less than it’s gonna be here today that I get, I can’t even comprehend that. Ridiculous. I don’t know how people could. It’s, I would, I would not I would live in a heater.

Rachel Schooley 24:26
Yeah, you know, I historically have been a pretty big baby about the cold and like any sort of weather. And so moving up to the Arctic, and we have two dogs. So like, there is no option we have to be outside daily. And for our kids as well, like just being out out and just like, you feel like you feel like Okay, everyone else is outside and people are doing all over the place like you know, they’ve got their snowmobiles and they’re going up to camps and they’re doing things outside in this weather and you learn pretty quickly He the right gear that you need to have. Because it’s a beautiful landscape. It’s a beautiful space and like being outside in that weather. It’s pretty dry up here. So there isn’t a ton of humidity, which really helps. And if there isn’t a wind it’s it’s doable. You can you can be outside and this It’s okay, but the winds will get shot.

Brock Cook 25:26
Because I remember seeing videos, I remember seeing videos years and years ago, someone like outside in like that temperature, and like throwing a glass of water in the air and it just turning to mist. Like, it’s just…

Rachel Schooley 25:40
Yeah, I’ve seen that haven’t done that yet.

Brock Cook 25:43
That’s cold.

Rachel Schooley 25:47
It’s pretty cool. That is pretty cool. Yeah, yeah, you’ll have to come up sometime

Brock Cook 25:53
..so that. I will I it’s it’s definitely on my to do list. I’m not opposed to experiencing it. I don’t know how I would cope leaving that might take me a little while to adjust. Especially given the seasons, or all that stuff I got on the plane here, it would be summer. So it would probably be 35 to 40. So probably would be an 80 degree difference by the time I got off the plane. So yeah, the whole day like that…

Rachel Schooley 26:22
You I lived in Uruguay

Brock Cook 26:25
Oh, really?

Rachel Schooley 26:28
Yeah, I lived in Uruguay for a few years, and like would come home for visits during our summer and then head back there and be winter and vice versa. And I remember like, that goes plane rides were always really like jarring. Like, just because you leave one hemisphere. Yeah, but you could do it, Brock.

Brock Cook 26:55
That’s debatable, but we can try. So with the whole, the obviously very different sort of Vegas daylight situations, compared to a large portion of the rest of the world? How does that affect your work? Like? Does your work still follow a structure? Or do you essentially just have to make yourself available when the people that you work with are available? Or how does that impact you as a therapist?

Rachel Schooley 27:26
Yeah, so while I was working at the hospital here, up until the last week, actually, and so that I was still kind of doing an 830 to five day like, that’s when our services were available. And so you access them during that time or you don’t. And, you know, like I said, like folks still just go on with their their lives, it looks a little bit different when there’s no laid out. But it’s still like a bustling on it. Things don’t really shut down. And so yeah, that was I kept on with my reg biller schedule, they’re moving into kind of this free agency that I’m going into and supporting different programming. Moving forward, it will be you know, like, I’m going out to this camp for two weeks, and I will be there for two weeks, day and night will be out on the land. So I think that will provide me an opportunity to see like, what what is the difference between daylight or not, we’ll do another camp in the summer, I’ll get to see it, then. I think like for my own understanding as an OT, it’s shifted things a little bit because you can’t really apply like sleep hygiene when the sun is not going down. And somebody who doesn’t have a curtain, right? Like you need to think a little bit differently than Okay, well listen to calming music and like keep the same routine every night. Some of those things are helpful. But other times like I found up here more than I mean, actually any job that I’ve had, but up here, especially like I’ve learned so much from my clients and being client centered looks a lot different because I’ve had to learn an entirely different way of life. And mostly because of a the land and be the daylight hours.

Brock Cook 29:23
So one thing you just said then was like, looking at sleep hygiene. Do you still even though the sun doesn’t go down at certain times a year? Do you still call it night? Just for I guess continuity? Yeah,

Rachel Schooley 29:37
I guess so. I guess so. Um, and different people will follow it differently. Like I think folks who are able to kind of get out hunting or get out to their camps in the summertime. Like it may be a couple of days that they’re that they’re up or if you know you just have A week to try to provide for your family for the next year, you’re not going to sleep much during that time. And I know like, personally, my own mental health was really impacted. The polar night was one thing like I, you know, I’ve dealt with depression in the winter times before. And then moving up here because I, I’ve had those experiences before I was like, Okay, I need to get a happyland I need to have a lot of vitamin D, I need to like, have a routine and structure. But I think you know, there’s the things that you should do. And they’re the things that you don’t do. And last winter was was pretty tough. At a few different points where Yeah, I really felt like there was just no sun like I didn’t, there was no light. And so I learned quite a bit mostly that like, I need to be outside every day, whether it’s minus 40 or not. That’s been hugely helpful this winter. But the sun, like the summer impacted me even more, because I really, I can deal with noise when I’m sleeping, like I and I can go back to sleep pretty easily if I’m woken up, but like the light, and then we have blackout blinds, but even just like the smallest crack and that light is coming in, and it’s like midday sun, like it’s bright, bright light. And that was really difficult. And I’m trying to I’m still trying to figure out like, Okay, how do I prepare myself for that, this coming summer. And I’m sure compounded with a lot of things like, you know, global pandemic, there’s a lot that could have, you know, impacted my mental health over the summer. But, you know, I think about that experience. And then I think about some of the folks that I’m working with, and supporting and insomnia is, like a big issue for a lot of the folks that I’ve worked with. And I still don’t really have the answer as to like, Okay, how do we, how do we support people who are experiencing that? Because I’ve experienced it myself and like, tried my best to ot myself? I yeah. And still don’t really know, like, What is? What is the for that? And maybe just biologically, we’re not programmed to be sleeping when it’s like 24 hours a day? I don’t know.

Brock Cook 32:22
Yeah, just because I have no idea what is the happy lamp?

Rachel Schooley 32:29
So it’s like, well, sometimes, I guess, but I like happyland better. So it just gives you that UV light that the sun would provide. And so like i and this has been, I’ve heard about it in other areas of Canada, like for Canadian winter as well, when it gets kind of dark. But up here, it’s definitely like, yeah, a lot of people have them. Just to give you that light that you need.

Brock Cook 32:59
I would think that happy lamp is much better marketing than sad lamp. Like, doesn’t make me want to buy one.

Rachel Schooley 33:12
Yeah, like it makes you It makes you happy. My kids in the morning. That’s like, the first thing they do is they want to run in turn on the sun. And it’s just so like, it’s shining so bright. And their little faces because it needs like pretty close. But I think it does help.

Brock Cook 33:28
Yeah. Interesting. Makes sense. I mean, I think like biologically were PR diagrams programs. Actually, it’d be interesting, I think, to compare, I guess how people that know, like cultures that have grown up in those situations differ from the rest of the world, in terms of like, from my understanding of it, and it’s by no means completely, you know, infallible, but my understanding is that we’re biologically programmed to, you know, when the sun goes down, we get tired we go to sleep when, and that’s one of the issues with that people are identifying around the world nowadays is that people staring at their phones and stuff before they go to bed is giving this sort of false light input that is keeping us awake, and making it harder for us to get to sleep and that kind of thing. So I’d be interested to see if and I’m not sure what the need is there. Anyway, Inuits native culture.

Rachel Schooley 34:36
So yeah, so in Canada, I think like, you know, the general term is indigenous, and then there is the First Nations group and then the Inuit. And so up here we have in you eight there, the new Viola inuvialuit people, and then also gwitchin, who are First Nations or DNA, people. There are matey people there, you know, it’s a very multicultural town, actually. But I think, yeah, the indigenous groups up here and the government’s up here nuvia leeton, gwitchin.

Brock Cook 35:13
Okay. But yeah, really interesting to see, like, what the First Nations responses like whether it’s programmed, essentially completely different in them, because they’ve, you know, grown up, or lived in those situations for however many millennia compared to, you know, most of the world where the sun does actually go down at some point during the day. Or if it’s just something that like, like he said, like you’ve identified and is very well known thing around the world, that your vitamin D, or sunlight, or that sort of natural routine of the world has a big impact on your mental health, especially your your mood, like your usually depression, that kind of stuff. Whether that’s just something that they tolerate or manage.

Rachel Schooley 36:15
Yeah, and, you know, I, I do have to wonder if it’s something that was managed differently, like before, these kind of colonial structures and systems were in place, right, like, when folks had the freedom to kind of move with the daylight and do what they needed to do when they needed to do it. Because now, we do have a couple generations of folks who, you know, people who have been in residential school, people who have kind of been been forced to follow colonial structures. And I wonder, like, I just when we’re talking about this right now, like, I wonder, when I, when I’m meeting with people that are dealing with insomnia? Like, would that be the case? If there wasn’t this expectation to meet this, like nine to five? timeline for folks? Yeah, I don’t know. Because, I mean, obviously, they’re, you know, there’s pretty intense, like mental health issue. There’s a lot of intergenerational trauma up here at the last residential school up here, actually, are they the only residential school up here closed in 1996. So I was 11, the residential school here closed, which, to me is just mind boggling. And so, you know, I am hopeful, kind of as an OT, like, exploring this kind of like decolonization of healthcare, because I’ve worked in a colonized healthcare setting up here. And it’s not, it’s not great. It’s not really meeting the needs. And I think about schools, like I’ve worked, I work in schools as an OT up here, as well as we’re kind of generalists. But you’ve got these kids who especially in you know, the northern or more remote communities that are growing up with family until the age of five and, and the life with family and being out on the land. And the structure of the day is so different. And then they’re expected at five to go to school and listen and wait and follow these timelines that have kind of been implemented, but and then as OTS, we get all of these referrals for kids who can’t pay attention, they can’t focus, they can’t meet these expectations. But really, like, I do have to wonder if that speaks to issues with the system and expecting these kids to kind of add him as opposed to really focusing on like inclusive schooling, acceptable schooling and culturally safe schooling for kids. And so I think like move from the hospital structure and towards this kind of land based programming, it is helpful to think about like, there are no separations. But like, how can it for a change and things in order for there to be more inclusion and respect of these, like, you know, cultural practices that have been in place for millennia? Yeah, it’s been really, it’s been really interesting and I’m still learning like, it’s all very new to me. But Yeah, it has me thinking quite a bit about like when I talk about daylight and how it impacts occupation, but like, I don’t know if that’s the main thing that’s impacting occupation for folks up here. Like, I think the main thing is this expectation to be at work by 9am. But really, that’s, that doesn’t really work up here, like the, you know, when it’s still pitch black until 2pm. And then maybe you get like, a little bit of Twilight for an hour or so. So

Brock Cook 40:31
yeah, see, I as someone who probably struggles with sleep, anyway, and has to put a lot of conscious effort into trying to maintain a good sleep habit. I don’t I honestly can’t see how I personally would cope in that situation, like, a lot of the time. Is that sort of natural sort of daylight routine is all I’ve got to try and maintain any kind of sleep habit. So I the daylight, the constant daylight part, I feel like I could probably manage because you can, you know, like, like you said, You’ve got blackout curtains, you can make a false nighttime if you if you need to. But I think the constant darkness aspect of it, which I assume would be the is that during the winter or the summer, that would be winter,

Rachel Schooley 41:42
During the winter?

Brock Cook 41:45
Yeah, so I think there’s constant darkness aspect of it.

Rachel Schooley 41:54
Yeah. Yeah. You know, and that’s what I thought too, when I moved up here, and yeah, it just wasn’t, it wasn’t that way. Like I found winter to be more manageable. And it’s cozy like people kind of go to these like leisure occupations. And so there is like a lot of sewing and crafting and cooking and like, just this general coziness, about winter time. But for me, and I think it’s probably a very personal thing as well. Like, for me that is more manageable than, you know, it’s summer, it’s just really hard to turn off. And even if you have blackout blinds, like the rest of your house is bright until you know, it’s time to go to bed. But I think everybody has their own thing that works best for them or works better for them anyway. But it’s been an interesting thing to experience for sure.

Brock Cook 42:58
Because I mean, even just that routine, like that throws out pretty much every other habit or routine that most people have. There’s no sort of natural cues for when you need to wake up other than this arbitrary like you said, you need to be at work by nine o’clock, which when the whole 24 hours is daylight 9am becomes kind of arbitrary. It doesn’t mean a lot there’s other than if you’re the only thing I can think of what it would would work well to shift that time. So if you worked in a job that sort of interacted with people in other time zones, then you could sort of match your work to their timezone and it wouldn’t make much difference. Yeah, having a sort of having a nine to five sort of job when always daylight. Yeah, it doesn’t. Yeah. I think I’d have to experience it to sort of really get my head around it, but I just can’t see how she wouldn’t have a massive impact on literally and something that’s so silly, like, yeah, okay, the daylight like that’s all we’re talking about is daylight, without such a massive impact on literally every single thing that you do every. And even on a biological level. Like I could imagine that just especially with any sort of Western cultured people living in that area, who either haven’t been living in that situation for 1000s of years, or even have just recently moved up there. I would imagine the impact on their mental health would be messy. Especially if the especially because it would take a while one to adjust and find things like a happy lamp the I actually would help to maintain their mental health. I mean, when we have issues sort of in winter here and we lose maybe, I would guess we lose maybe an hour and a half a daylight during winter compared to summer here, which is compared to the 12 hours that you lose is rather minuscule. And we notice a difference. So I can only imagine, like mental health services up there being absolutely swamped by but yeah, maybe maybe people they’re just better equipped for that. I’m not sure. The insomnia things interesting, though, because that’s not something I would have ever thought of even that makes perfect sense. When you actually say it out loud. It’s not something I would have gone. Oh, yeah, that’ll definitely be an issue. Because I guess it’s not something that I really come across very often in my sort of ever in my career, really insomnia, other than maybe some kind of medication side effects. It’s not something that I’ve ever really worked with or anything like that.

Rachel Schooley 46:18
Yeah, yeah, it’s, uh, you know, it’s not totally new to me, I think working in jobs, it’s people who are unstable. The house, like sleep is not a commodity, you know, sleep is so fundamental to everybody. But it’s, you know, seems to be a privilege first, because I think there are folks that aren’t safe to sleep, there are folks that aren’t housed properly to sleep, and appear there, there’s a lot of that, I think there’s a lot of, you know, the trauma that people have experienced, can definitely play into insomnia. So when you, you know, when you’re having nightmares, when you really are afraid to go to sleep that will contribute to insomnia as well. And so from a mental health perspective, and I am like my background, kind of beyond working for the hepatitis C clinic after graduation, I worked for Canadian Mental Health Association, which is a national, public mental health provider. And so working as an OT, within that. Yeah, I’ve definitely come across, you know, insomnia as an issue before. And I think there are some, you know, different modalities for treating insomnia, I have not really come across any that have been super effective for folks. And it’s kind of like a, like a, yeah. Like, how do we reduce the impacts of the insomnia that you’re experiencing and support a person enough so that they feel safe to sleep? Like that’s, that’s kind of been my approach up here. And I’m sure other teams have much more experience with you know, working with folks dealing with insomnia, but yeah, it’s been an interesting like something for the first time in my life living up here like I’ve always been able to sleep I love sleep. I couldn’t sleep until noon every day if I had a chance at like, it really was that light like I you know, and even just you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom is like full sunlight right in your face. Are you like it’s Yeah, it’s it’s a different thing. But hopefully many reasons why. Just aluminum foil over all of the windows, and I’m sure we’d make a good impression on our neighbors. or live in a cave with no windows or something. Yeah, doesn’t it doesn’t sound half bad. Actually when the Summertime comes.

Brock Cook 49:13
Not it. That’s probably the extent that all the lengths that I would have to go to to be able to function. I feel like I’m maybe I’m just precious. I don’t know. Maybe I’m starting to feel like I’m a little delicate after after hearing what other people actually have to just tolerate just to live day to day. So so you what you said you’re working partly with in schools, what what is your actual sort of role up there in the Arctic at the moment?

Rachel Schooley 49:47
Yeah, that’s a really good question. Um, so I’m, well, I’m in a sort of transition state right now. I can speak to that. The job that I was in probably first because that was a really interesting position. And so it was, you know, I like I said, I’m, I’m a mental health ot like all of my work experiences and mental health, most of my student focus was on mental health. And then I came up here and started work as a generalist. And so like really working with babies to elders and everything in between for all sorts of reasons, working in acute care, long term care, home care, schools, outpatient mental health, all other things, group homes. So it was a challenge, it really was. And it really also showed me that I was probably on the right track with mental health ot that’s, that’s where my passion is, and, and, you know, substance use as well, like, I’m really, I’m really passionate about that area, I really found a love for home care, though, that was great, because it’s mostly like you’re going in and visiting with elders and, you know, trying to make life easier for them, which was a lot of fun. But I got to, you know, like some weeks commute to work on this tiny little six seater plane, we go, you know, so twice a year, we have to go. Or we get to go to the smaller communities in the Beaufort Delta region. And so each ot there’s three, there are three of us. And each ot has four communities that you are looking after everybody in this community, you know, from an OT perspective. And many of those are any, there aren’t a lot of roads to where you need to go here. And so yeah, there’s a lot of little plane rides on small planes. My partner is terrified of flying. And so it’s been very good exposure therapy for him to be on tiny little, let’s hit some, you know, it could get pretty rocky up here with the wind. And so yeah, it’s, it’s interesting, but sometimes it’s going to help centers in these communities and kind of seeing people seeing people in their homes, seeing people in schools. I tried to do a lot of community education around like what occupational therapy is, and especially what mental health occupational therapy is, because, you know, we’ve had some brilliant occupational therapists work up here. And I think there’s been a lot of hard work put into developing an understanding of OT, because unfortunately, like the, the hospital or like the health care system that we work within, maybe doesn’t really recognize the value or loyalty or the potential of the things that we can do. So they’re like I did orthotics for the first time, in my professional career, we, I don’t even think we learned about orthotics in school. When it was like a lot of like compression, stocking magnet, or measurement, a lot of like equipment really, really basic, like old school ot stuff that I had never. I mean, yeah, never really touched. And so that was a learning experience, but also just, you know, really trying to advocate for our profession and what we could be doing. And I think that, you know, there was some buy into that, and I can see some changes being made kind of from the top down. But ultimately, like seeing the potential of what could be done from an OT perspective up here led me to leave that position. And so I’ll be moving into supporting right now it’s looking like a lot of land based programming. So for trauma treatment, it’s on the land healing camps, some of them are called and so working with adults, who are, you know, potentially using substances or struggling with their mental health and moving the treatment on the land, which is really amazing and kind of this like, too wide seeing approach, like you have this Western approach. And sure I have the skills that I have accumulated over however many years of being an OT, and studying these things that are helpful, they’re useful, right? And but then we also have this indigenous way of knowing and being that is really the most powerful thing for indigenous people to, to receive health care within. And so, like, we’re talking about meeting people where they’re at like that That’s really what it is like moving it away from the institutions and the hospitals and back to the land. And like I said, that’s that’s a pretty new endeavor for me. I just got the the list of things that I need to bring to this camp and I’m very underprepared. You know, cuz like, I don’t have a warm the cold weather gear. I’ll get it. That’s fine. But yeah. Yeah, like, I think it’s exciting to think about how occupational therapy actually I was listening to a webinar, there’s like a national indigenous health webinar that’s put on right now it’s every week just around COVID. But it there was a psychologist talking about using land based lessons to like, promote mental well being during times of COVID. And for the more urban areas, like if you’re in lockdown, what does the land teach you about maintaining wellness, and it’s that idea of like structure, okay, you have to get up in the morning, you have to move your body, you have to chop wood, you have to feed yourself healthy food, you have to keep yourself warm. But like, all of that is kind of very occupational, and occupation based and so exploring, like, how can ot support these programs? And what are the barriers for folks to accessing land based healing? What are the barriers for folks of implementing land base learning into their daily lives back in town? Like when they returned from camp? How can they kind of maintain this momentum? Because everybody I talked to that has been out on the land, whether it’s a client or a co worker, like that time is healing for them. And I haven’t experienced it, you know, to that extent, myself, and I don’t have the same tie to it, as many of my individuality and gwitchin friends here do because that’s in their blood like that is generations upon generations of connection to this very particular land. But as an OT, like if I can help to facilitate Unity’s I think that’s pretty exciting. And I think it’s really fitting like, it makes a lot of sense. To use occupational therapy in this way. It’s so I’m so excited. I’m very honored to have been invited to contribute to this programming, and so excited to see kind of how it pans out. Yeah, I think it’s gonna be a lot of learning on on my behalf. And hopefully, I can share some of like, the skills and just the benefits of ot for folks that I don’t think up here have really had access to that because ot has been used in such a old school way. For the most part,

Brock Cook 57:59
yeah. Very, very, very medical model way so far, by the sounds of it.

Rachel Schooley 58:07
Yes. 100%.

Brock Cook 58:09
You mentioned you mentioned before about catching the little tiny plane, which already gives me Heebie Jeebies add the remote, like really remote sort of communities, but only a couple times a year? Is that the, like the extent of the the services that they have access to? Just barely a couple times a year?

Rachel Schooley 58:33
Yeah, yeah. Um, so, folks either have to come to Inuvik. So we’re kind of like one of the hubs of healthcare, if they’re needing service, or there’s telehealth where I mean, you know, how our internet conversation has been functioning so far. So I think you can only imagine how telehealth works or does not work up here. But I think, you know, COVID-19 has really shown that like, healthcare needs to be more accessible to these remote communities because not only do they need to come to Inuvik for healthcare, for major, you know, health care needs, like certain operations and treatments, they need to go into the fire of COVID-19. So, like, Edmonton, Alberta is the closest place for a lot of these folks to receive the hot spots of COVID-19. So I’ve had a lot of clients who, you know, really the, got chronic pain, injections really, really help and I need to go into, like, a place that’s actually very dangerous for me to go right now to get the treatment that I need. And I think this is kind of Like, when I started work up here and started realizing the lack of access to health care, and even pretty basic things like OT, you know, the school kids that really could benefit from that extra support, like, if they live in one of these remote communities, they’re only being seen twice a year. And that’s kind of where, like, the colonial system of healthcare has probably failed the North, it hasn’t probably, it has failed the North, because it’s so inaccessible, to receive the services that you need. And even in a new vacuum, it can be really, really difficult. But then when you move to, you know, these smaller communities that are flying only, and they have a nurse, that’s, you know, maybe a couple of nurses that are at the health center all the time. And then keep doctors are only coming in and out, you know, OT PT SLP, like we’re there a couple times a year. And otherwise, it’s up to it’s up to them to travel to make appointments or get the health care that they need. So, yeah, that’s been pretty eye opening for me. And I think that’s, honestly, it’s not an Arctic specific thing. I think that’s the case for a lot of folks who are living in remote areas of the country that healthcare can be pretty inaccessible. But yeah, appearance. Yeah. pretty evident.

Brock Cook 1:01:32
Yeah, it’s, um, I think that’s something that we experienced here in Australia as well, I was just curious as to how much because I think in Australia, there is a real, it’s still probably not enough. But there really is an emphasis on trying to get a lot of outreach services to those really remote areas, those really remote communities, but they’re still this, especially some sort of specific medical care and that kind of stuff. There’s obviously some services that we can fly out, like we can fly out otas and physios and speeches. And there’s, I’ve seen, like dentists who operate out of trucks that travel around all rural areas, and really remote areas and that kind of stuff. But there’s some really specific care, like a lot of, you know, stuff like cancer care, and that kind of stuff that requires, you know, tons, literally tons of equipment that you just can’t transport to those really remote areas. So there’s definitely still barriers to access some healthcare when you live in those real, really, really rural areas, but I think, here anyway, I can’t speak for the whole of Australia, or I know in Queensland where I used to work for the state health department, they do do a fair bit of outreach. And they do have a lot of like permanent health care. settings probably sound similar to like, where you are currently, where they sort of in those not really remote, but those sort of rural centers, that, again, tries to service those rural areas, as best also does really remote areas as best that they can. So there’s definitely something that I can relate to here. I mean, I think Canada’s probably a bit bigger. But there’s still two very large countries with a lot of a lot of land, which creates a lot of isolated remote communities. Yeah, we’ve got a lot of desert, you’ve got a lot of ice. So actually, yeah, there’s a natural barriers.

Rachel Schooley 1:03:52
Well, and it’s interesting,

Brock Cook 1:03:54
the Arctic is a desert, apparently.

Rachel Schooley 1:03:56
Yeah. It’s interesting, because like, I think it also speaks to, for folks living up here, you know, like, there will be professionals that come up from the south, and maybe they live here for a year or two on a contract. And then they leave and so and then a new person comes up. And so you have these health care professionals coming into your community twice a year, and maybe the next time they come in, it’s a totally different person than the person you just told your entire story to, and started a plan with and so it makes it even less accessible. And something that we’ve talked about, I’m part of the occupational therapy indigenous Health Network here in Canada. Just an incredible group of people that you know, have really been exploring like accessibility of ot as a profession for folks up here and I think lovely ot on Instagram, Nancy had, you know, made a really excellent detailed post about this a couple of weeks ago, just like representation in our profession. And the amount of bipoc OTS that we have probably globally is it’s really? Yeah, that’s really like disgraceful. We just don’t have the representation that we need. And I’ve often thought, you know, and initially when I moved up here, I thought, like, Okay, well, what is it? Is it the cost of university? Like, could we start a scholarship, but the fact of the matter is, the nearest school that provides ot programming is like 2000 kilometers away. And that’s the, you know, the cultural differences between up here and the nearest school in the city, that that is their vast, right. And the family, the family structures here are very different as well. We’ve got multi generational families and people that are very invested in caring for their loved ones. And so I think that ot as a profession, like the education component needs to be more accessible for us to see better representation because like, what a dream, it would be for a new reality and kitchen may t students who grew up here, no, the land, no, the people would be invested in their community, because they haven’t been for their entire lives. To be able to do remote learning up here, like I don’t, and, you know, with COVID, like, why not? Why couldn’t it happen? Because I mean, yeah, education has been for the last year. But I think that’s a big part of the issue as well, like, yeah, we’re only doing these trips twice a year, but then the turnover of the people who are doing the trips also makes the healthcare really inaccessible, you have to start over again, completely. The teachers are rotating constantly, like it’s just the continuity of care is really lacking.

Brock Cook 1:06:52
And that’s the it’s hard because it is a hard job, but you kind of need. Ideally, you want people that are originally from that area, because they’re more likely to stay in that area. And I think that’s, it’s interesting, because the the the university that I currently work at is essentially exactly what you’re asking for. So I am about 1700 kilometers, not as Cannes, but ran, but somewhere between about 1500 kilometers from the capital city, which originally was the only ot course in the state, I believe, my course where I work and where I went, was the second in the state. Now there’s like eight or something. But essentially, it was set up as a like towns or the city. I mean, it’s a small city regional city. But the course up here at this university is designed to essentially create Hello, well, for our ot course designed to create OTS that are specially not, I guess, designed to service this area. So you know, we do a lot of, we have a relatively high Indigenous Australian population compared to the rest of the state up this way, and we do a lot more coursework I feel than other universities around the cultural differences and, you know, being able to work and tolerate working in rural or remote location. So I think what we have here is exactly what you’re talking about, in that it makes the access to an OT course, much more or much easier for people that you know, have grown up in North Queensland who live in North Queensland who want to stay in North Queensland and when they graduate, hopefully they will stay in North Queensland and service the populations in the unique settings that North Queensland presents compared to like the capital cities and that kind of thing. So that’s one thing I think we’ve, we have actually got, which is which is good. And I can tell you that it seems to work a lot of our graduates do stay in, like the areas that they grew up in, which is, you know, North Queensland is a pretty big area, like it’s probably 600 Kay’s sort of square, I guess. But, you know, so we have students that come down from cans up from MCI, you know, they come, they come from the west, they come from Mount Iser, that sort of stuff, and the majority of them will either go back to the place, they grew up and work there. There’s a lot of the people that I graduated with that are still in North Queensland. But again, it’s an OT course so they’re not bound to it. They still have the option if they want us to go and work overseas. A lot of people that I graduated with did go and work overseas for a bit. Even I moved away. When I first graduated, I moved to the big city and sort of got that experience and surprise, surprise ended up back here. So it that that theory does work. Like there’s quite a few regional universities, smaller universities in Australia that are designed to create graduates that service, those regions, and the courses are generally tailored to depending on what the courses but generally tailored to the population, or the the geographic area, or whatever it is that will enable graduates to specifically be able to work really well in those areas. So that that theory does definitely does work. And we’ve we’ve got lots of proof around Australia from our more regional universities.

Rachel Schooley 1:11:02
Amazing. That’s, that’s so great to hear. And we should definitely connect further around that just. Yeah, I think there’s some, you know, like, OT researchers in Canada, her record looking into this, like, how do we make this a reality? But how cool to hear that it’s been implemented where you are with success and like results? Because it can Yeah, like it makes a lot of sense.

Brock Cook 1:11:29
And it it does. I think the one I think the one thing I think what you’re talking about before is talking about getting more First Nations people through the courses, I think that’s something that still needs improvement here in Australia, it would definitely do the profession wonders, on terms of diversity, and I guess accessibility to a wider breadth of population to support more support getting more First Nations people into courses like OT and that kind of stuff. I mean, we it does happen. And there is a lot of support and a lot of what would you call them? Like pathways into university. There are like a variety of pathways into university that is aimed at trying to increase the number of First Nations people. But it’s one of those things that I think there’s always going to be room for improvement. So that’s that’s probably I think, would be the the next step like we’ve got the university. I mean, the university has been given a number of years, but think the OT courses 20 years old now at JCU. Oh, yeah, so I think I graduated in the first half of that somewhere. But yeah, I think there’s there’s always room for improvement, and there’s always gonna be room for improvement. And I think as long as we’re aiming and trying to improve and actually actively doing something to try and improve that, then you know, that’s that’s progress. Unfortunately, it’s very slow progress. But progress is progress in a lot of instances. And I think this is something we just need to continually trying to be trying to improve and trying to keep getting better at because I do see the value in having First Nations practitioners in in, especially in areas like this, where we do have like a large, larger than state average population of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people here and here in North Queensland. Yeah,

Rachel Schooley 1:13:56
I got no, I think, Well, you know, there’s some really amazing like, there are things that we can kind of do, but then also to lift up certain organizations that are indigenous LED, like inmate led First Nations lead. There’s some really cool work being done up here for you some, like Western or chickies, collaborative, our Arctic Youth Development Agency, where they’re really like, okay, like listening to the youth, what do the youth want? Like? How do they How do they perceive themselves getting there? And so I think a lot of that work is already being done. But just like how do we, how do we as OTS amplify, you know, the work that’s already being done and add our outer voices and support? Because like I said, like, for me, initially, I was like, oh, let’s just let’s start a scholarship. Like if it’s just about money, but there’s a lot to learn of what it’s really about, and I think there’s some really good Like agencies that are on the ground doing the work to make things more accessible and successful for folks for kids, you know? But it would be Yeah, it would be cool to see like application of the program that you’re doing, like the work that you’re doing. In a Canadian context and northern Canadian context, we have a local college or or a college, like a satellite site up here in Inuvik. And so like, why couldn’t we do distance learning with an OT, you know, component? Why couldn’t it be a part of the job responsibility for the OTS that work here to have shuttling students shadow them? Like there are a lot of things that could be done to assist with that continuity of care? That doesn’t really currently exist? Yeah, it’s interesting. Yeah.

Brock Cook 1:16:03
I forgot what I was gonna say. This happens at least once. This isn’t.

Rachel Schooley 1:16:11
Take a sip of your tea.

Brock Cook 1:16:13
I had a really good question. And then… Excuse me.

Rachel Schooley 1:16:28
We’re talking about universities. We were talking about like slow improvement.

Brock Cook 1:16:35
Oh, yes, I got. I remembered. So you, you were talking about, like supporting programs that were either starting already running. And I think that’s a really important point, because I feel like a lot of OTS, and maybe it’s due to the isolated nature that we sometimes end up working in ourselves feel like we have to kind of reinvent the wheel, we have to do everything ourselves, we have to start everything ourselves, when it really isn’t the case. And quite often, we’re not the best people to actually be starting things, right. But we can be we can be super, super helpful, and super, super supportive for people that are or programs that are already running or starting up or in a better position to drive a certain program. And we can be there to support add an OT lens, add any clinical support that they might need to do so because quite often these programs are run by NGOs, or community organizations and that sort of stuff. And I just think it’s an important point that you’re making that OTS, I just wanted to highlight it that, you know, we’re not always the best people to be to be driving these things. But we might be able to add value in other ways to the people that are in the best position to be driving. Things like especially when we’re looking at First Nations, in any country, quite often the best people to be driving programs. For First Nations people are people. They don’t want some, you know, Western middle aged person coming in and telling them what to do and how they should be doing it. But having that same person alongside the right people to be running that and having them alongside for support, and to sometimes even, I guess bridge the gap between one culture and a Western medical culture, it can be a really patlak are much more impactful position for an OT to be in rather than be this sort of overarching driving force trying to, you know, fix the world kind of thing. I think it’s important that OTS, I don’t think we’re very good at it. Because we said this in the past. I feel like a lot of OTS have this impression that everybody needs an OT, which, I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, but that’s a load of shit. It’s like saying everyone needs a speech therapist. Yes. Okay. There’s probably someone that could benefit from a speech therapist in some way. But not everyone needs a speech therapist the same way not everyone needs a no t not everyone needs a GP all the time, etc, etc. We’re not that special. There, I said. But we can have a big impact on that. I don’t feel sorry. No,

Rachel Schooley 1:19:49
yeah. And this is kind of, you know, going back to that first student placement I had or the incident placement I had where it was ot on the system’s level, right? And so like, how with my knowledge of the healthcare system as it is having worked within it, and then like, how can I support these indigenous governments and organizations and the programming that they already have, like, I’m, I’m being invited to contribute, and I’m very honored and grateful for that. But this programming would exist with or without me, like, it’s, and it’s been, you know, running without me for a very long time with much success. And so like, I can bring a little ot flavor into it. And then also, maybe I can see like, okay, you know, maybe within this structure, the fit, like we’re looking at good fit, poor fit that OSI analysis, how can we learn to support these things? But yeah, by no means, am I trying to, like reinvent any wheels, or start things fresh up here, it’s really about supporting the things that are already in place that are indigenous LED, that’s really important for me having supported folks who haven’t benefited from Western systems up here, like they need to be indigenous led programs. Yeah, and I, I agree, like I think I see in a lot of kind of, like ot chats are the Facebook comments, or Instagram or whatever that I think because we like our our breadth of scope is so wide, and we can kind of work in a lot of different areas, that we feel like maybe we’re capable of developing things in a lot of different areas, but really, like, what we’re best suited to do is support the things that are that are already in place. And yeah, that’s a good point that you make, and it’s 100% i 100%, an agreement of that.

Brock Cook 1:21:53
Yeah, I think if there’s something because the other thing I see is like if there’s no services at all running, or the anything that you can jump on board and support that, then oteiza like, I got to run something, again, still not the case, you can still support other organizations that may be wanting to start a program and there’s no no, I get the impression that a lot of OTS feel like that’s almost secondary, like lower down the totem pole in terms of I don’t know, the social glory or something, then actually running a program yourself and I die, I completely see it the opposite, in that I actually feel like you’re going to have a bigger impact. supporting other people, it’s the same way that when we work with individuals, like we’re not hopeful, hopefully touchwood hopefully, we’re not there supporting them for our own, you know, satisfaction where they’re supporting them, because they need support. And we’re helping them and in the process of doing that we’re not going in there and telling them what they should do. We’re working with them. So that in a lot of cases, especially in mental health context, a lot of the time, we’re supporting them to come up with the answers to what they want to do about whatever the situation is. And then we’re supporting them to do whatever it is that they’ve worked out that they want to do about the situation. We’re not there. We’re kind of the GPS driver. And it’s the same way in supporting people running these programs. Like when we’re not the driver, in a lot of instances, we’re not the best person to be driving in a lot of those situations, but we can bring our knowledge and experience of a healthcare system of council of whatever it is that may help that organization or that individual or whoever it is, in order to throw out the best service that they possibly can with our help.

Rachel Schooley 1:24:08
Yeah, 100% agree.

Brock Cook 1:24:12
So it’s, I’m excited to see how you go with this program this on the land prayer, it’s, it’s something on the land when you even when you say that is something that I’ve heard a lot from a lot of the First Nations people that I’ve worked with here in Australia, the land is something that is very precious to their culture, they’re very connected to the land. And a lot of the, I guess, conflict, whether it’s physical or verbal, or psychological, I guess, between sort of Western culture and First Nations culture in Australia is around The land and the fact that Westerners kind of came in and just took over the land and the land is so ingrained, and so linked with Aboriginal Torres Strait Islanders in Australia, so the land is when you’re talking about on land in Australia that would call it on country. programs. I that’s something that I feel like resonates massively for Australian it says it’s all hope, hopefully does. Yeah.

Rachel Schooley 1:25:34
And it’s cool, because I feel like for the first time in a long time, you know, like being an OT and mental health, I think we can get really lost and like, what is our role? Like, what is our focus, and I had a prof in ot school, like her words will forever stay with me that just like we are focused on occupation like that is that’s what sets us apart from social work. That’s what sets us apart from PT, from counseling. But I think for the first time in a very long time, these projects have me refocusing on occupation in a way that I haven’t because, like, I am not the expert in any other area where they’re like, I don’t have the expertise and being on the land, I don’t have the expertise in traditional knowledge, I don’t have the expertise and like, you know, what it takes to build a fire, like, I would be totally hopeless, but I am the I Am the expert in occupation, right. Like I do have that expertise. And so refocusing on occupational therapy, occupational science doing that in kind of like a two I’d seen way. So like, how do I incorporate indigenous occupational knowledge, because that exists. And it’s really, really helpful when contributing to this programming. But I, I feel like I’m real ot again, like, I’m really diving deep into the like, focus of our profession, like the core of our profession. Whereas like, especially in a generalist position, but in my mental career as well. Sometimes the lines can get pretty blurred, and things can get a little bit muddled in terms of like, what are they doing in this situation? Like, what is what is it that I’m focusing on, and maybe that’s just me, and my experiences, but I do kind of go for the first time that it’s very clear what my role will be, because it’s very clear what I am not the expert on. So I’m excited. I’m excited to not to look at it. And yeah, I will be like, a colleague and I will be writing a paper on it just like, what is the very specific like ot rule here? And how, how could we look at expanding this type of programming? everywhere? Like, what would it mean for ot to be involved in this kind of like decolonization of health and wellness? Like can how can we contribute, I feel like, you can contribute quite a bit from our standpoint, as occupational therapists, while also recognizing that indigenous led programming is of utmost importance.

Brock Cook 1:28:20
100% couldn’t agree more. And it just reminded me of a like I did an episode, I think it was Episode 63, around unpacking, thinking, in an Australian healthcare setting. And one of the things Terry said during or one of the big sort of, I guess, lightbulb moments, during that episode for me, was when turbo was talking about how Indigenous Australians had essentially their traditional way of living, like they have their own science, their their own, you know, social structure, their own, like all of these things that we think of as sort of Western constructs like science and that kind of stuff. They have their own and yeah, it differs to ours. And one of the like, what you were saying about being able to light a fire, I remember saying to him, I’m like I you could put me on the land and I might be able to survive, maybe I reckon three days. I definitely would be the, you know, the genetically gifted sort of chosen Darwinian sort of breed that would be able to maintain living on the land for 1000s and 1000s. of years. Yeah, but it sort of I think in thinking about the fact that a lot of indigenous cultures not just in Canada or Australia, but all around the world have their own science, their own way of doing things, their own medicine, their own all of these things, and we are Yes, we are a profession. That is Quite embedded in occupational science, but occupational science isn’t prescriptive. And I think the concepts of occupational science when you’re working in populations like that need to be like, like you described, they need to be incorporated, or sort of, I guess merged with the the knowledge of the population that you’re working with. So, you know, like I said, the social structures, I can only speak to the the experiences I’ve had in the populations that I’ve worked with, but so in First Nations people in Australia, this social structures are very, very different to our social structures. In a Western society, in a lot of cases, I actually think they’re better they’re stronger social connections within their population, than there are in the majority of sort of Western cultures, they’re very family orientated. And their, their eye OTS obsession with independence, I will probably do another I’ll probably do an episode about that at some point, because it’s becoming a pet peeve of mine, but only his obsession with independence doesn’t fit with with that culture. Because their, their, their social structure, their family structure is so tight that it’s it’s a very. And I know this comes across as a negative connotation, but it’s a very sort of codependent structure. And it’s, it’s the thing is, it’s definitely not a negative thing. It’s just that our Western society with our obsession with independence sees codependence as a negative just by default, which is a whole nother story that I’ll get into it another time. But we need to be aware that for the majority, the issue with occupational science at the moment is that yes, it can be translated or adapted to look at other cultures. But the majority of the research out there is we’re from within Western culture. And the majority of the teaching and the development of the concept of occupational science comes from a Western culture as well. So we just need to be aware that the current essentially, when we’re looking at being evidence based, the current research base for Occupational science is predominantly skewed towards Western cultures, Western ideals, and that kind of thing. And like I said, it’s not saying that it’s not applicable, or it can’t be modified and be applicable to other cultures. But if you’re just going off the evidence, based on what the evidence base says, Be aware that the evidence base is biased towards a Western culture at present, there are a lot of exceptions. And there’s a lot more research going on, that I even I know of looking at occupational science in a variety of cultures, which is excellent. And I think exactly what the profession needs, because we need to become more aware that, you know, it’s, I think what Jody booth would call it a socially awkward, she thought the socially dominant culture. But doesn’t mean that it’s applicable to everyone being just because it’s the socially dominant culture. So I don’t know where I was going with that. And I went on a side rant. But yeah, I think what you’re saying fits very well with, with my experience, and what I think as well.

Rachel Schooley 1:33:46
Yeah, and I think like, it’s an interesting concept to think of, um, you know, this, and I know, I’ve talked about to it a little bit, but it’s really like an evolution of our understanding, we’re not going back at all, and I want to be really mindful of not, like othering indigenous people or like tokenizing, either, you know, their way of life because it is modern, like this is everybody’s existing in 2021, you know, within Canada like, and really looking at merging these two ways of being it’s like an evolution when you talk about occupational science and, you know, very, like applying it to various cultures or like making sure that it’s inclusive of all cultures, like what a beautiful evolution for our profession to be moving in a way where we recognize that this Western way of knowing and being can’t be the be all end all like that is not it’s not serving us of Western descent, like, you know, settler descent and it’s not serving other people who are excluded from that narrative. And so it is kind of like a beautiful way of thinking of it. inclusivity like, for all because it this, you know, our, our systems as they are really do like they create this othering they create this like, well, if you don’t fit within, then like, that’s your issue to sort out. Whereas if we’re moving forward truly, then we are incorporating all different cultural lenses, we are incorporating different sciences that are not Western based. And I think like to an extreme benefit for our profession for healthcare in general society in general. Because, yeah, like these aren’t, you know, when I think about traditional knowledge, I mean, tradition is within it, but it’s not something that exists in the past, like it is something that exists now, that is useful now that can, that we can use to contribute to our profession now. And like moving forward, the possibility of that is pretty exciting. I think there’s so much room for growth.

Brock Cook 1:36:06
Yeah, and I think, yeah, relatively, I know that this often gets used as an excuse, but it is a relatively old, comparatively new profession compared to some other health professions. I think working in sort of really remote areas for OTS is still a very new or relatively new thing. And I feel like you’re right, we’re we’re in this period now, where the profession itself is exploding on terms of growth. It’s, it’s growing really rapidly. It’s growing into other areas really rapidly, which hopefully, will translate to an increase in sort of the research and evidence base, which will then broaden and deepen the general knowledge base of the profession itself. So I do think we’re in a time right now where it’s super exciting because the profession itself is evolving right in front of us. Like, even the change from when I graduated 13 years ago now. To now is enormous ly hidden. It’s almost like a completely different profession. It’s, I find it very exciting. as it sounds, do you? Yes. Yeah. I just think it’s an exciting time for the profession as much as you know, I’ve had people say, Oh, you do whinge about stuff? I’m like, Yeah, but it’s only little stuff, the good stuff. The whole point is I bring on people under this podcast to highlight some of the amazing things that people are doing, in the hope that more people will adopt those things. And as a profession, we we grow even more growth of the profession, and the advancement of the profession is, is something I’m extremely passionate about. And

yeah. Yeah, that’s, it’s exciting. You’re right. The work that you’re doing is exciting. All right, go ahead.

Rachel Schooley 1:38:31
Oh, sorry. I don’t, I think you may be froze up for a second. Um, I was just gonna say that, like, you know, this, this podcast has been pretty instrumental for me like working up here really remotely, and coming from a place. When I was in the south, I was working on monks, you know, there were seven or eight of us OTS working in one city, you know, very focused on mental health, very strong advocates for the profession together. And that was that was great. And like such a solid foundation for me as an OT. And then coming up here, I’ve been pretty, you know, removed. And like I said, the concept of what ot is, and what we can do, is totally like back 50 years up here in terms of like, health care provision. And so it was so cool to connect with you because I have been listening to your podcast and learning about, you know, the different things that OTS are doing all over the world and the ways that we can like advocate for our clients that we can advocate for our profession that we can make changes at a system level, like that’s all really, really cool, exciting and inspiring stuff and 100

Brock Cook 1:40:03
You’re I think I cut you off because I thought you’d finish, but I think it was just paused.

Rachel Schooley 1:40:07
Oh, no, yeah, no. Yeah, no, it’s just, it’s been really helpful. And like I, you know, it’s cool to just listen to the things being talked about, because you know, there are different different areas of the profession, people that you bring on to the show and but I think like, it gives a teaser, a really good sense of where things could be, or where things are moving to, and how to advocate for themselves like you. It’s not often that in our clinical practice, or daily lives, we’re learning how to use the words that we need to use to advocate for ourselves within the profession, to other healthcare providers, to the people that are making decisions about how ot is utilized. And I think it’s been really helpful to have access to your podcasts and listen to what other OTS are saying and doing, in order to kind of move myself forward as an OT, challenge how the profession has been used in different areas, because like, there’s so much more potential that has been realized, I think, especially here, and, and now it’s being actualized. Right? Like, I think that taking that inspiration, hearing that other oaties are doing it, and then that gave me the confidence to say like, you know, I don’t just have to exist within, like, I don’t have to be a square peg in a round hole, like I can find where I fit. I’m an advocate for that. And so I’m grateful for that.

Brock Cook 1:41:47
Yeah, that’s awesome. And I think that’s a that’s an important message for all IDs, especially some of the new grads that are coming out and feeling a little bit lost. because quite often the I guess the image of it that’s presented when you’re at university can feel quite different to when you graduate and you get out and you actually start looking into things. And it’s important to just I, I can’t stress it enough like back yourself, like you know, more than you give yourself credit for. The system is far from burger, I don’t care what country you’re in, I can say this almost universally that the system is far from perfect. We don’t often we are by default, it again, in my opinion, before anyone jumps down my throat, a non medical profession trying to fit into a medical professions world, in a lot of instances, and that, by default makes us different makes us unique. But it also, if you look at that as a negative, it’s gonna be a negative, I look at that as a positive, like, we stand out, we are unique. That is the reason why if you’re ever on a board, like with a multi D Ward, the clients, the patients, whatever they that they labeled as in your part of the world, they love oaties, because we’re different. And we get to do different things with them. And we get to do what is generally very practical things with them that they can actually see the benefit of, because we’re working towards very real goals, those goals are that individuals goals, and we are generally pretty good at communicating that kind of stuff in a language that they understand. So, yeah, why I encourage you, like don’t stress if you don’t feel like you fit in or you are feeling a little bit lost. Because that’s actually exactly where you need to be. So yeah, we’ll get used to that feeling that feeling does go away, be confident in your profession, be confident in your own skill set. Because just know that you are exactly where you need to be.

Rachel Schooley 1:44:08
100% I love that, Brock.

Brock Cook 1:44:11
That’s awesome. That got very deep and meaningful.

Rachel Schooley 1:44:17
Good, though, I mean, I’ve definitely had that experience, especially after graduation, or within the program where it’s like, oh, and even up here, like, I mean, pretty established and confident in the work that I’m doing. And then like all of a sudden I’m having you know, conversation with a doctor about a client and just like, forgetting that I am a bio psychosocial model professional working within a medical model and not like feeling just really yeah, like not confident in the things that I’m saying because like what is not matching here like we are really talking about two different things. Is it me like do I just not really understand how things work. And then actually, I think it was listening to one of your podcasts later that week and talking about that we are like a profession not within, like, it’s not a medical model profession, we are different, that I was like, Oh, that’s where that feeling is coming from. And being able to take that confidence and advocate better for my client in that situation. Like, that’s really important. And to be like, I think the benefit of nobody knowing what occupational therapy is, or like, you know, a few other lithium amount of times, I’ve had to kind of explain, and people are really open to hearing about it. But like, actually, I’m not a physio, or actually, like, that’s not what I do this is, you know, this is within my scope, we generally are the experts in our profession. So even as a new grad, or even, like, I’ve mentored students who have been on placement with me, or have said, like, in a place where nobody really knows what it is, like, you know, best what it is. So have that confidence and use it. I guess it kind of works for to our advantage, when other times it can be very frustrating.

Brock Cook 1:46:19
Yeah. Sometimes that frustration, you just have to put up with it. Unfortunately, that’s not pleasant. But frustration, frustrations never killed anyone. So I’m sure you’ll be okay. That’s the benefit of tolerating that and growing through it is far outweighs, you know, reacting to it, and being, you know, shutting down any kind of professional or clinical relationship that you might be building at the time. So just, yes, it’s gonna be okay. Like I said, You are where you’re meant to be, if you have faith in that you can tolerate anything. So yeah, do what you do what you need to do, and you be the be the OT, you never quite know, motivation.

Rachel Schooley 1:47:15
And you end up working at the ends of the years, and, you know, changing changing the OT game, they’re like, I never ever thought one day I’m going to move to the Arctic. And, you know, quit my job during a global pandemic, and start some self employment and see how that works out. That’s not that’s not on my list of to do’s but I think, you know, I’ve got a lot of passion, you know, both about our profession, but also how people should be able to access health care how people should be able to access wellness, and yeah, like, it’s, like, use that passion, like, see where it takes you take the risks? Yeah, I do. I do love OT, like I, I’ve seen it worked in, like, pretty hard circumstances, you know, with folks that have led really, really difficult lives. And just to have a little bit of a different approach and like, Okay, well, why don’t we do something together, that’s fun for you to do like to be able to walk alongside folks. Up here, like the the counseling staff isn’t able to meet with people outside of the hospital, and they always have to meet in their offices, and they’re so envious of me when I get to do like walking sessions, or, you know, go out on a boat with someone or you know, meet somebody for cooking or whatever. And it’s like that, that act of doing, when it’s what the person that you’re working with wants to truly do. And it can be pretty awesome.

Brock Cook 1:49:04
That’s awesome. And that’s a perfect note to leave it on. I feel so if people are wanting to check out your social media and stuff, whereabouts could they find you?

Rachel Schooley 1:49:22
I would, I would ask that people don’t have high expectations of my social media, but my handle on Instagram. I post I post very irregularly, especially like Internet access is not always optimal. But at Arctic_ot. That’s where I’m at.

Brock Cook 1:49:46
Awesome, awesome. Well, thank you so much for for coming and chatting and enlightening me to so many things that are my mind’s a bit sort of mush at the moment. Still trying to get my head around the whole, like. Thank you so much for Yeah, coming in having a chat and sharing your very, very unique environment that you’re currently operating in.

Rachel Schooley 1:50:14
Oh, it’s, it’s my pleasure. Thanks so much.

Brock Cook 1:50:22
If you liked this episode and want to check out more, head over to occupied podcast.com or search occupied podcast on your favorite podcasting app. If you have thoughts or reflections on the topics discussed today, please do get in contact, we’d love to hear from you. And lastly, if you got some value from this and you want to help us out, like, subscribe, share it with a friend. Remember, be good to yourself, be good to others, and always keep occupied