Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Supporting Indigenous student wellness

Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre staff member transitions to new cultural counsellor role.

[Lisa Doxtator]
Lisa Doxtator is the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre’s first cultural counsellor, a position that has been fully integrated with Queen’s Student Wellness Services (SWS). (Photo by Bernard Clark/University Communications)

Lisa Doxtator has been part of the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre community since 2015, recruiting students to Queen’s, and leading student-led community outreach programs. Earlier this year, she became the centre’s first cultural counsellor, a position that has been fully integrated with Queen’s Student Wellness Services (SWS).

Doxtator provides individual and group counselling and therapy, and offers wellness and cultural programming to Indigenous students. New programs include The Sacred Fire, an event that gives students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn about Indigenous sacred medicines, the fire, and smudging.

'Building a sense of community'

“Building a sense of community for the Indigenous students has been my priority, because Indigenous students need to feel a sense of safety and security, and to see themselves reflected in these safe spaces,” she says. “It’s important for students to have a place where they can open up about their personal experiences as Indigenous students on campus and feel heard, validated and supported.”

Doxtator is a member of the Bear Clan from the Oneida Nation of the Thames. She has a background in social work, with experience in trauma and recovery counselling, and is a registered mental health professional. Doxtator positions her therapeutic technique within an Indigenous worldview that acknowledges and validates Indigenous students’ experiences and histories.

“I am enjoying getting to know the Indigenous students and to hear how much it means to them that there is a cultural counsellor who can meet with them at Four Directions,” she says. “I have seen the resilience of Indigenous students at Queen’s, and how they continue to move forward to be the best they can be, regardless of the barriers they encounter.”

Connecting Indigenous students to health professionals

As a regulated health professional, Doxtator is a part of the Student Wellness Services integrated health team; which is composed of doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, and other counsellors with specific areas of expertise. Through the collaboration with SWS, she is able to refer and connect Indigenous students to these health professionals when needed. In addition, she can liaise with Accessibility Services, and Health Promotion when supporting students. Simply stated, her role is central to connecting Indigenous students with other services on campus.

“I am very proud of the work that Lisa has done in such a short time in the role. She is working towards building a strong community of Indigenous students at Four Directions and creating engaging programming for them to make time for their well-being,” says Kandice Baptiste, Director of Four Directions. “The collaboration with SWS has been very exciting and I look forward to continuing to work together to support the needs of Indigenous students at Queen’s.”

In the fall, Doxtator will be starting a weekly Mental Health Sharing Circle. This group will provide education and awareness about mental health issues that are relevant to Indigenous students, and give participants the chance to share their own experiences. In addition, she will be co-facilitating a counselling group with SWS entitled ‘Managing Powerful Emotions’.

Through her integrated position, Doxtator is able to increase the accessibility of wellness services at Four Directions, and implement her knowledge and awareness of the needs of Indigenous students to the services offered at SWS.

“Lisa has, in her short time in this role, brought so much knowledge of Indigeneity to our team of counsellors, and as such has been instrumental in building capacity. She has a warm quality about her that allows for the quick establishment of trust, both between her and the students, as well as with her colleagues,” says Rina Gupta, Director of Counselling Services. “The role she plays is so instrumental in supporting indigenous students in a way that allows them to feel understood, supported, and valued. Lisa sometimes plays a vital role in helping students feel more comfortable accessing the wider range of health services at Queen’s that many have held back from accessing previously. I am so happy to have Lisa on our team, and could not imagine it any other way.”

To learn more about programs and services, visit the SWS and Four Directions websites.

To set up a meeting with Lisa Doxtator, contact her at 613-533-6000 ext. 77986, or by email at lmd9@queensu.ca.