The Willies

  • Verne Ross University of Toronto - OISE


In the early part of a cold winter morning I woke up needing to “pee.”  Sleepily I tried to convince myself that I could wait it out, but once I started to squirm around under my covers I knew I would have to get up.  It was bad enough the house I was living in had an eerie presence, or so I thought, the house did not have an inside toilet.  Instead you had to go outside to a little house called an outhouse where you went to pee.  That was the part I hated the most.

Author Biography

Verne Ross, University of Toronto - OISE
My name is Verne Ross (Mino Giizgaad Ginewaji Binishii). Meaning Nice Day, Nice Bird. I consider myself Two-Spirited. The community I belong to is called Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan. I started out my educational journey at the Transitional Year Program back in 2002, and completed the program in 2004. I then ventured my first year in the Arts & Sciences to work towards completing a specialist in Aboriginal Studies. In the year 2008, I graduated with a Hon (Bachelor of Arts) from University of Toronto. I do have to say, I certainly learned what hard work is, where I managed to hang onto my dreams. To achieve two degrees was definitely my dream come true. Just to list some previous involvement during my academic career here, I served as the Vice-President of the Native Student Association. Also, I had the wonderful opportunity in working with the Summer Mentorship Program at University of Toronto. There were numerous times that I have given educational presentations in Aboriginal health care where I also was a guest speaker for ABS350Y1 Aboriginal Systems to share with students my own experience working in the health field. I am founder of an Aboriginal Health Program within a hospital in Regina, Saskatchewan. Should I mention that I am the person who is on the poster for Canadian Blood Services One Match Program, representing Aboriginal people within Canada to provide education and awareness on what stem cells are and the importance of getting registered as a donor. I was always told by my elders that we should not be holding knowledge to ourselves, because we must think of the children that are coming behind us. The knowledge that I received during my days working in the hospitals out in Regina, Saskatchewan, was very rewarding and for me not to share that with others, would not be acceptable within our own Aboriginal values and communities. Knowledge cannot be caged, where sharing is very important in order to preserve our identities, culture, and language. This is why I go out and speak to all ethnic groups within the communities. I have also been on panels here at University of Toronto to provide my input and knowledge on such topics like the Truth & Reconciliation on Residential Schools, including Aboriginal Health Care. I have been a long supporter for the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives, First Nations House and especially Canadian Roots Exchange. I learned to appreciate the richness of spiritual teachings from the elders that I have worked with throughout my working and educational journey. Right now, I just completed my full time student studies at the Inwentash Factor- Faculty of Social Work of the Masters of Social Work, where I have chosen Diversity/Social Justice as my specialization. I have so much respect for education, where I want to keep this ongoing learning journey happening.
How to Cite
Ross, V. (2015). The Willies. Ars Medica, 11(1). Retrieved from