In the tradition of Blackfoot storytelling, Weasel Head is exploring what homelessness means to Blackfoot people. She has collected five narratives, and now faces the challenge of capturing the stories she’s heard.
“It’s hard to reproduce their stories without having my heartstrings pulled,” she says.
As a Blackfoot person herself, the U of L master’s student in Native American Studies  has insights many researchers don’t.
“We have this element of inter-generational trauma and abuse, the devaluation of self, loss of identity,” says Weasel Head.
Everyone who she has interviewed has had a very different story, but all share a “profound sense of loss on every level,” she says. Her interviewees have lost their sense of self – largely because of addiction and discrimination – and also their loved ones.
“To be truly homeless, is to be without community relations,” she says. “Even though the Blackfoot have cultural ties to the area and the land itself is considered ‘home,’ the people I interviewed are deeply disconnected from the community.”
But there’s a hopeful side to Weasel Head’s work. Research like hers can help the public look at the homeless as real people, rather than a social problem, and this can help inform social policies that make a difference.
“By better understanding the causes of Native homelessness, as told by those experiencing it, the tools to combat it through adequate programming and policy development are more wisely and appropriately allocated,” she says, adding that Lethbridge community group Social Housing in Action  (SHIA) is closely following her work.
Weasel Head is also giving a voice to a group of people who have traditionally been without one in mainstream Canadian society.
“The people I spoke with appreciated the chance to tell their stories,” she says.
As for Weasel Head, the experience has helped her find her own voice and gain a deeper understanding of who she is.
“I’m rediscovering where I come from and remembering who my people are.”
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