“I’m really looking for growing skills to be a better leader, to be able to lead change and conflict,” said Nicholson, a practicing nurse at Bemidji. “My goal is to graduate with a PhD in nursing and focus on maternal and child health, women’s health and breastfeeding, reducing the health inequality gaps we really have in our I plan to use the funding to connect with other indigenous leaders and healers in our communities and also to expand it to other parts of the United States. “
Nicholson is one of 24 Bush Fellows in Minnesota, North and South Dakota who met their awards on May 11th.
The Bush Foundation provides fellows with up to $ 100,000 in 12 to 24 months to pursue education and learning experiences that help them develop skills and relationships to foster change in their communities and regions. Fellows can use the funding to pursue aspects such as education, leadership training, networking, and mentoring.
Nicholson, 45, works for Mewinzha Ondaadiziike Wiigaming, an American Indian non-profit organization co-founded by his mother, Millicent Simenson. Its mission is to give women and families more options, control and confidence when it comes to the birth process.
Natalie Nicholson leads a discussion at Mewinzha Ondaadiziike Wiigaming, a Bemidji non-profit organization co-founded by her mother, Millicent Simenson. Photo sent
Millicent says working with her daughter is “a dream come true because I am very happy with the goals she has for herself and also for the surrounding communities because we have three reserves surrounding Bemidji. His grandparents are from Red Lake Nation, we still have a family living in the Ponemah area. “
Natalie, a former Olympic runner and world champion, was also a first-generation college student. As a nurse, she co-directs the Coalition for Indigenous Breastfeeding in Minnesota to help re-establish a support network for Indigenous families and caregivers. He tries to combine Western medicine and the traditional healing practices of Native Americans with members of his community.
She plans to take the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant exam in the future, making her one of dozens of Native Americans in the country to have this breastfeeding certification.
“I am committed to Mewinzha developing a sustainable community clinic that focuses on culturally relevant maternal and child health care, focusing on indigenous ways of living and knowing for the prevention and well-being of our community.” , said Nicholson. “This work is important to me because I want our Indigenous relatives to have a range of culturally relevant health care services because it is important for well-being and for improving health outcomes. I think we can do better as to the health system and as health care providers ”.
Natalie Nicholson, right, of Bemidji, helps sweep a rock during a national curling match in the United States in 2013. Nicholson and his teammates on the Allison Pottinger court won the bronze medal with an 11-2 victory . (Rich Harmer / Curling in the United States)
In the meantime, he has quit his curling career. The sport has taken Natalie around the world since she was a teenager when she represented Team USA at two Junior World Championships. She continued as an adult at several Women’s World Championships and was on the USA team at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Natalie was the co-coach of a team that won the U.S. Women’s Championship in 2020 and was named Coach of the Year. The team qualified for the 2021 World Championships, but this event was canceled due to COVID-19.
The pandemic allowed Natalie to spend more time at home with her husband John and their daughters, Stella and Mya.
“I decided to step away from the coach this season because of COVID’s unknowns and family and personal commitments,” he said.
These commitments now include the Bush Fellowship, and Natalie’s mother looks forward to what this next opportunity will bring.
“I’m amazed at his dedication when something comes up,” Millicent said. “She has learned a lot through the curling she can use over time. We are definitely very proud and happy for her. She has done it all. This is hers. We are here to help her and help her and guide her. the “.