“This is not about gambling, it’s about our lives”

An Interview with Sheila Wahsquonaikezhik


  • Darrel Manitowabi Northern Ontario School of Medicine
  • Sheila Wahsquonaikezhik Indige-Spheres to Empowerment




Indigenous gambling, Health and Wellness, Research


In this interview, Darrel Manitowabi speaks to Sheila Wahsquonaikezhik, Director of Indige-Spheres to Empowerment, a non-profit organization addressing Indigenous health and wellness. This interview explores Sheila Wahsquonaikezhik’s Indigenous gambling experience including work in an Indigenous casino in Ontario, gambling harm reduction outreach in northwestern Ontario First Nations, and gambling research collaborations. An outcome of this interview is a revelation that the practice of Indigenous gambling is connected to the wider context of colonialism and Indigenous gambling research requires greater inclusion of Indigenous peoples.

Author Biographies

Darrel Manitowabi, Northern Ontario School of Medicine

Darrel Manitowabi, PhD, is the inaugural Hannah Chair in the History of Indigenous Health and Traditional Indigenous Medicine at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. He is an Indigenous anthropologist with research interests in Anishinaabe ethnohistory, Indigenous health, Indigenous-state relations and gambling.

Sheila Wahsquonaikezhik, Indige-Spheres to Empowerment

Sheila Wahsquonaikezhik is the Director of Indige-Spheres to Empowerment in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and was formerly the Program Coordinator for the Gambling Awareness program for Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Northern Ontario.  She is a member of the Batchewana First Nation of Ojibways. She had the opportunity to work in the gambling industry for 14 years prior to moving into the responsible gambling, gambling awareness field. Her expertise lies in Program Development for First Nations communities and organizations.  Sheila holds a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University and loves hunting, fishing and the great outdoors as a place to reconnect, rejuvenate and feel peace.




How to Cite

Manitowabi, D., & Wahsquonaikezhik, S. (2021). “This is not about gambling, it’s about our lives”: An Interview with Sheila Wahsquonaikezhik. Critical Gambling Studies, 2(2), 159–165. https://doi.org/10.29173/cgs84