top of page

Indigenous Wellbeing Gathering Conference 2023

Conference Abstracts

Urban Indigenous Engagement and Participation in Health Systems

Kris Murray, Nicole Taylor-Sterritt

This activity will engage participants in helping to inform the Interior Health Urban Indigenous Engagement Strategy to ensure the voices of Indigenous peoples living away from home, off reserve, in urban and rural communities throughout the Interior are able to contribute in the space of health transformation and systems change. The Interior Health Aboriginal Partnerships team will be leading the activity with a keen interest in understanding how best to create safe, accessible spaces for urban and away from home Indigenous community members (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit) to help inform the health care system to be culturally safe, free of racism, accessible, and supportive of traditional wellness and healing practices. It is important that individuals and families feel they have a way to contribute their voices and experiences to bettering the health care system. Wellness, and feeling safe to not only contribute perspectives and ideas, but experiences in receiving health care from Interior Health, is integral to engagement. The team wishes to understand what would make urban and rural Indigenous engagement successful and how best we can remove barriers. The activity will be open dialogue, guided by prompt questions and facilitation from two or three Indigenous staff from the Interior Health Aboriginal Partnerships team. The feedback will be captured and shared back with anyone who is interested in receiving a summary and follow-up. As 'connection back' to individuals and ensuring folks know their voices have been heard is critical to safety in engagement and thus this practice will be integrated into the activity. Anyone who wishes to help inform this work on an longer term basis can share their contact information, voluntarily, to the team for future participation as we know a short session may not thoroughly capture your perspective.

Co-creating classroom spaces to support Indigenous student wellbeing

Erin Delfs, Dani Pierson

Graduate studies have the potential to create passionate, joyful, and life-affirming learning experiences for students. Yet, Indigenous student realities in post-secondary are often punctuated with racist and tokenizing encounters with peers and professors that deeply impact their well-being. As Métis-settler and settler graduate students, we are concerned with understanding what it takes to build accountable and caring classrooms. As such, we wonder: What are our responsibilities, as Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, in co-creating classroom spaces in which all students feel heard, supported, valued, and well? To explore this question, we weave critical and Indigenist literature with our personal experiences and reflections as Métis-settler and settler graduate students to give breathing room to two key arguments. First, we will argue that settler students have a responsibility to contribute to supportive classroom spaces through interrogating what shapes their personal presence and engagement in those spaces, refraining from relying on their Indigenous peers to educate them, and working through certain feelings of discomfort outside of the classroom space. Additionally, we will argue that if all class members approach classroom spaces centring intentionality and relationality, possibilities to reorient ourselves to the inherent value of alternative ways of knowing may emerge and create pathways to support Indigenous student wellbeing. Ultimately, this paper strives to create cracks in how colonial classroom spaces are experienced and understood. It is our hope that this cracking creates room for further dialogue around caring and accountable classroom spaces wherein multiple ways of knowing, being, and being well may shine through.

Supporting Future Leaders within Urban Indigenous Community-ledResearch: Student Trainee Journey 

Kelsey Darnay, Keyara Brody, Avery Shtykalo

Students are important team members in research, contributing lived experiences, knowledge, and unique perspectives. The Indigenous Health Promotion & Cultural Safety Team includes Elder Advisors, Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and student trainees, and health providers. The Team works with urban Indigenous Friendship and Métis Centre communities to co-develop culturally safe, respectful, non-racist, wholistic health and wellness programs and policy change that benefit all generations. The Team provides support through that fosters learning and honours student strengths to increase confidence, trust, communication for safety and overall well-being. Current projects include co-developing, co-delivering, and co-evaluating culturally relevant ways to include Traditional and Western approaches to well-being within urban Indigenous communities in the British Columbia Interior. Student trainees complete a comprehensive community engagement and research orientation and receive ongoing training and mentorship to support individualized learning and goals. Examples of learning include workshops and online training modules on ethics, sex and gender, Indigenous Methodologies, cultural safety, unconscious bias, meeting facilitation, and knowledge translation activities. Experiential learning is critical in working with communities, building relationships, learning, and following local community and university ethics and protocols, and maintaining culturally safe environments. Students are able to apply learnings within future research and educational experiences. We share our journey of a successful Indigenous health research student mentorship program, grounded in cultural safety, focused on individualized learning plans and goals, community engagement, and support from Elders and community and university research team members that is central to creating positive experiences and teachings for future generations of research leaders. 

Transforming Worldviews: A Reflection on the Dynamics of My Dualistic Position

Cameron Hare

As an individual of mixed Métis and European descent, raised and living in the Canadian colonial system, I often question the influence of my personal identity, perspectives and biases as I begin to enter the field of health promotion research with Indigenous communities in Canada. In this paper, I describe the duality of my position and how it is challenged and changed through the framework of Mezirow’s Transformative learning theory. The use of this theory to examine the dynamics of positionality is largely absent to describe those with conflicting dualistic worldviews. Through my experiences working with the Kahnawà:ke School Diabetes Prevention Program, leaders in Indigenous health promotion, and interactions with my Métis and European family members, I explain how my perceptions and worldviews grounded in my cultural roots, are not only challenged but also reinforced. Applying transformative learning theory to the changes in my positionality, I experienced emotional and cognitive changes unique to those reported by individuals with non-dualistic positions. I describe the interaction of the unique characteristics of my position within the research process and explore how it both facilitates and hinders my ability to engage in Indigenous Health Promotion research.

Language Revitalization in Non-profit Organizations: Exploring theCommunity Wellness Benefits of Kelowna Museums' "Nsyilxcen For Everyone"

Alana Firedancer

When considering Indigenous wellness, (re)connection to culture and land must be considered. Language spans the breadth of both concepts. Indigenous culture cannot be fully understood without language as language shapes worldview and knowledge systems. Similarly, language functions as communication to the land. In syilx territory, the plants, the earth, the animals, all of tmixw understands nsyilxcən as the language of the land since Time Immemorial. Nsyilxcən is an endangered language that requires immediate action to prevent extinction. Fostering spiritual, mental, and emotional wellness in syilx communities looks like the preservation and revitalization of nsyilxcən. Non-profit educational community organizations can assist in language revitalization. Kelowna Museums, in partnership with syilx knowledge keepers, facilitates "Nsyilxcən for Everyone" aimed at Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members. Engaging non-Indigenous communities is vital since it not only raises awareness about endangered Indigenous languages but fosters empathy and provides a Call to Action for Indigenous allies. The roundtable will consist of a fifteen-minute powerpoint presentation on how to create community collaboration, the importance of teaching the language of the land, and the beneficial effects on Indigenous communities. Following the presentation, a short nsyilxcən lesson will take place. A thirty to forty minute facilitated discussion will follow. Attendees will discuss prompts or share their stories on language revitalization. Attendees will walk away with ideas and steps on fostering community collaboration and language revitalization.

Community Engaged Research to Promote Indigenous Well-Being: OurLearning Journey

Judy Gillespie, Jason Albert, Kim Kosik, Dennis Whitford, Violet Noskey

Multisector community change initiatives (CCIs) to enhance Indigenous well-being represent a promising approach to addressing Indigenous child and family well-being. Yet evaluation of their impacts is difficult; CCIs are not amenable to traditional methods of evaluation. And while considerable research is occurring to develop knowledge of effective and meaningful evaluation strategies and approaches, this research is not occurring in collaboration with Indigenous individuals or organizations, nor is it considering the role that Indigenous knowledge systems might play in methodologies for evaluation of CCIs. Our research is addressing this gap in knowledge by collaborating with two Indigenous led CCIs aimed at promoting community change to enhance Indigenous well-being, one in British Columbia's central Okanagan and the other in northwestern Alberta's Peace River district. Collaboration with these two initiatives is generating knowledge regarding the role of Indigenous knowledge in effective and meaningful evaluation of CCIs. Research done in collaboration with community initiatives is also a learning journey and in this panel presentation, we (community and academic participants) reflect on this learning, highlighting key lessons that have enabled our collaboration to move forward. Panel members include Dr. Judy Gillespie, Associate Professor at UBC’s Okanagan campus, Dr. Jason Albert from First Nations University of Canada, research assistants Kelsey Darnay and Violet Noskey, and community advisors and research participants from both CCIs: Dennis Whitford and Jordan Broadhead from the Peace River Aboriginal Interagency Committee in northwestern Alberta and Kim Kosik and Kelly L’Hirondelle representing suxkenixtelx kl cecamala in the Central Okanagan.

A Perinatal Collaborative Community Laboratory on Substance Use andHarm Reduction: The Mothering Co/Lab

Sana Shahram, Lisa Knox, Allison Kooijman

The majority of perinatal substance use (PSU) research, policy, and services are based on paternalistic, colonial, racist, and biomedical discourses. Inattention to the social and structural drivers of harms for mothers who use substances, and their families lead to health and social system responses that can be expected to widen health inequities, owing in part to a lack of equity-oriented monitoring informed by and produced for community-driven needs. There is an urgent need for PSU monitoring that is focused on equity. The Mothering Co/Lab project is poised to change the purpose, process, and tools for PSU monitoring to promote justice and equitable health outcomes. This community and nation-led partnership reimagines population health monitoring for shaping more equitable health and social system responses to PSU by addressing the systemic factors that shape our understanding, monitoring, and responses to PSU that not only impact mothers and their children but also reverberate across communities and generations. Research activities to address objective one “cultivating equity”, include a scoping review and an environmental scan.

Modern Disenfranchisement – The Legality of being an Indigenous RegisteredSocial Worker

Denica Bleau, Melanie Lansall

“The legality of who is considered Indigenous has been created for the purpose of advancing settler colonialism and eradicating Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous People’s identity is held and defined by colonial legislation, such as the Indian Act, and this historical legacy of colonialism has forced Indigenous Peoples to choose between Indigeneity and safety. This paper was formed as a result of the legality which restricts Indigenous, Black and social workers of Colour from participating in social justice movements, specific to Indigenous rights and land rights, due to the fear of losing their social work license/registration. We review the current implications of claiming the label of a Registered Social Worker within Canada, and the use of direct and intentional surveillance of IBPOC people and communities through the realm of social work, which inhibits community and relational practice, and exacerbates a colonial agenda of punitive practice. We conclude by recommending that the schools of social work review how the legality of registration and licensing is a form of modern disenfranchisement, when being confronted with choosing to protect Indigenous self-determination and identity, or colonized legislation and registration.”

"Culture first": Wise practices for decolonizing Métis child welfare

Monique Auger, Raven Fawkes. (Co-Author: Colleen Lucier)

This presentation will highlight wise practices for decolonizing Métis child welfare, from the findings of a research project conducted in partnership with Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services (LMO). Using the Métis Visiting Way as the overarching methodology, we spent time and had conversations with a number of Métis Elders (n=20), LMO staff (n=27), and families who had accessed services at LMO (n=18). The findings speak to the importance of "culture first" - that is, centring a Métis-specific approach as a way of promoting wellness and safety for Métis children, youth, and families. The findings speak to several aspects of this approach, which we position as wise practices for decolonizing Métis child welfare. We will share aspects of these wise practices, highlighting the welcoming space, the use of Michif, land-based learning, music and play, traditional roles, ceremony, and more. We will also share components of LMO's Michif Practice Model and the ways in which utilizing a Métis specific approach to supporting children and families has promoted key wellness outcomes. These outcomes, including strengthening identity and belonging, the preservation and reunification of Métis families, and promoting cultural resurgence, will also be shared. While this research appropriate takes a Métis-specific approach, we also understand that these wise practices may be valuable for other Indigenous child and family agencies who are looking to strengthen their prevention supports.

Introduction of Acupuncture and Cupping as an Allied Resource forIndigenous Wellbeing

Laurie Sibbeston

I have always been interested in health and wellness, and feel I have a slightly unique perspective due to my upbringing in a small northern community in the Northwest Territories. My relationship with the land has always been an underlying reference point of sustainability and natural healing. As I grew older and became more educated on diet and health, I always resonated with more sustainable approaches to medicine. Chinese medicine is based on the cyclical relationship with 5 elements (Metal, Water, Wind, Fire and Earth) which I find correlates beautifully with the traditional concepts of the medicine wheel (air, wind, earth, water) of my ancestors. In this session I will be sharing the modalities in which I use in my daily practice as a registered acupuncturist, in particular NADA (auricular acupuncture) and cupping. NADA is effective, accessible, and non-discriminatory because it can be administered safely without barriers of language. NADA protocol is the use of tiny needles in the ear to help with PTSD, depression, addiction, and anxiety; ideally in conjunction with counselling and in a circular group setting. Evidence based research has shown it is most effective, but not limited to a group setting. It is safe for all ages, cultures and health issues. In this session, I will be sharing about my journey to this medicine briefly and provide a short cupping demonstration. I will provide NADA to anyone who would like to experience it in a  seated, circular group setting, similar to a drum circle. Participants will be asked to retain the needles for up to 30 minutes in a quiet and peaceful setting. 

Living sites of nêhiyaw health knowledge — an intergenerational discussion

Dallas Fiddler, Sid Fiddler, Marlena Fiddler, Rachel Fiddler

Indigenous Knowledge is lived knowledge that emerges in relationship and requires relational accountability. It is a process rooted in place that validates how we come to know through culture in an Indigenous context. For nêhiyawak (Plains Cree people) the transmission of Indigenous Knowledge is inextricably linked to health, and families play an integral role in promoting community wellbeing by breathing life into cultural teachings. This panel will bring together four generations of the Fiddler family of Waterhen Lake First Nation (WLFN), a Plains Cree community in Treaty 6 territory, to discuss how nêhiyaw health knowledge has informed their lives and diverse areas of work. Following a brief introduction by moderator Lindsay DuPré (supported by her 4-year-old son Kîsik Fiddler), Elder and former chief Sid Fiddler will begin the panel by sharing about the wholistic wellness framework he developed to support local governance initiatives. Second, Marlena Fiddler will speak from her training as a social worker examining how trauma impacts identity and belonging. Third, Rachel Fiddler will speak about her work in postsecondary administration and discuss how community-based cultural supports can advance health promotion for Indigenous students. Lastly, Dallas Fiddler will offer perspectives from his work as a policy analyst and present findings from his master’s research that examined healthcare access issues for WLFN. The panelists will offer distinct perspectives on Indigenous wellness within and beyond academia, and as a whole the discussion will provide an example of how Indigenous health knowledge is lived across generations within a specific cultural context.

Ktunaxa Understandings of Healthy Communities and Harm Reduction:Insights from the xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ Project

Christopher Horsethief, Alexandra Kent, Bernie Pauly, SanaShahram, Smokii Sumac, Hereditary Chief Sophie Pierre

Since 2018, the Ktunaxa Nation Council, Interior Health, University of Victoria, and University of British Columbia- Okanagan have formed a nation-led partnership to learn from Ktunaxa knowledges on wellbeing to inform health systems transformation. The xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ (Many Ways of Working on the Same Thing) research project has been conducting community-driven, culturally-grounded research to facilitate community dialogues around Ktunaxa understandings of healthy communities and harm reduction. During this panel presentation, members of the xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ research team will share guiding principles and promising practices for research, engagement, and knowledge mobilization with the Ktunaxa Nation. These guiding principles can support co-learning and co-creation of knowledge with community members, Elders and Knowledge Holders, youth, elected officials, health professionals, and researchers. Dr. Christopher Horsethief, Ktunaxa Nation Lead, will discuss the value of amplifying the voices of community members. Christopher advises on following the leadership of local experts to support the re-legitimization of Indigenous knowledge systems and subject matter experts. Dr. Bernie Pauly, UVic Lead, will discuss how mainstream approaches to preventing the harms of substance use should incorporate Indigenous understandings to improve health care services and promote health equity. Dr. Sana Shahram, UBC Lead and Interior Health Embedded Scholar, will share how the xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ project is actively advancing equity-oriented anti-colonial health systems transformation to better serve Indigenous communities. Smokii Sumac, 2SLGBTIA+ Inclusion Lead, will share how the xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ project is embedding Ktunaxa understandings of relational identities into research activities to promote inclusion and connection.

Métis Feminisms and Wellbeing 

Lindsay DuPré, Hanna Paul, Dani Pierson 

Indigenous feminisms have allowed for more contextualized analyses of women’s lives and coalition building within and across Indigenous nations. These lived theories help us to understand not only how settler-colonialism and heteropatriarchy have impacted Indigenous communities, but also to dream and realize alternative ways of being in relation. The experiences of Métis women are not disconnected from those of women of other Indigenous nations; however, the ways in which sexism and racism intersect in Métis communities are distinct in many ways. This panel seeks to examine power imbalances and wellbeing through the perspectives of three Métis feminist researchers. First, Lindsay DuPré will provide an overview of the miyo ohpikinâwasowin (good child-rearing) framework she has developed through her PhD work, discussing how this framework affirms everydayness at the family level as a critical site of knowledge production and resurgence. Next, Hanna Paul will discuss her Masters research on Métis moon time teachings where she investigated the historical legacy of western views on menstruation and how this has impacted Métis women’s self-image, relationship to spirituality, and connections to their bodies. Next Masters student Dani Pierson will share about their theorizing on rest as resistance examining how visiting with Land can support the refusal of colonial and capitalist expectations of productivity by centering practices of relationality and reciprocity. Moderated by Métis scholar Dr. Kim Anderson this panel will contribute to the constellation of Métis feminist texts we live (and dream) through every day.

The (De)colonization of Memory: Implementing Ojibwe Knowledge as aChallenge to Settler Narratives

Benjamin Ramirez

This paper presentation discusses how settler narratives can be challenged through Ojibwe Medicine wheel teaching. Settler colonization is not relegated to the past, rather, it continues in our current era while simultaneously shifting through time in its attempts to remove and replace Indigenous people. Education, has a profound influence on the Wellbeing of Indigenous people. The perpetuation of settler narratives in educational settings continues to shape national perspectives on Indigenous people. Thus, this paper presentation addresses a broad question that correlates with Indigenous Wellbeing. More specifically, the presentation shares an example of deconstructing settler narratives from high school history textbooks through an understanding of Ojibwe Medicine Wheel Teachings.

Urban Indigenous Community-Led Wholistic Diabetes and Healthy WeightWellness Programs: Learning Together for Health Promotion AcrossGenerations

Donna Kurtz, Karlyn Olsen and Kelsey Darnay

Decolonizing Indigenous community-led health research prioritizes community connectedness, health equity and self-determination. There is an urgent need to challenge and change colonial systems of care to inclusive Indigenous Traditional and Western approaches for wholistic health and wellness. Guided by Indigenous Methodologies and Two-Eyed Seeing, since 2018, a Collective of six urban Indigenous Friendship and Métis Centres, the University of British Columbia Okanagan and Interior Health have worked together to provide Traditional and Western approaches for diabetes and healthy weight management. Through cultural safety sessions, Talking Circles, and Community Gatherings, Centre communities identified and prioritized wellness needs. From this, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Healers, youth and young adults, Centre staff, health providers, and university team members collaboratively co-developed, co-delivered and co-evaluated site-specific distinctive 4-8 week Traditional and Western diabetes and healthy weight programs for wholistic - mental, physical, emotional, spiritual - well-being. Over the current five-year project, 101 community members joined 13 Centre-specific Community Programs focused on community-chosen topics including Traditional practices, land-based wellness, Ceremonies, healthy eating, and diabetes/healthy weight. Other activities include community diabetes/healthy weight resources, walking programs and community gardens. Collective Gatherings were held to share, celebrate, and discuss future activities, programs, and funding. We share successes of how urban Indigenous community-led research grounded in cultural safety, self-determination, relationality, decolonization, and guided by Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Healers, youth and young adults is central to creating meaningful and effective pathways for diabetes and healthy weight, and health promotion across generations.

meditation as ceremony: reclaiming wellbeing within

Nadine Atkinson

a métis woman's story of disconnection and reclamation. how ceremony led her to meditation, and how meditation led her home. during this offering we will explore the modern science behind meditation and its benefits on our wellbeing, and we will reclaim the traditional role it has played within indigenous ceremony and how it balances our medicine wheel. throughout the presentation we will be guided through different forms of beginner friendly meditations, and be given the opportunity to tell our own stories and ask questions during a sharing circle. 

Two-Eyed Seeing for Quality Improvement - Community Food  Action Initiative Food Security Funding Program 

Michael Wesley (Co-Author: Jill Worboys)

The Community Food Action Initiative (CFAI) is a health promotion initiative that aims to increase food security for all British Columbians. In the Interior Health region, the Public Health Dietitian team oversees the CFAI funding and has administered a traditional proposal-driven grant process since 2005. In 2019, analysis of funding allocation revealed that Indigenous communities have not been funded to the same extent as urban settler communities- the grant process created barriers for Indigenous communities to apply. A number of changes were implemented to improve processes which included prioritizing Indigenous communities, simplifying the application process and ensuring the opportunity is disseminated to Indigenous communities. These changes resulted in more applications from Indigenous communities and more funding being allocated. We also recognized that allocating funding through a formal grant process is inherently grounded in power imbalances, racism and colonization. So we embarked on further changes to the CFAI funding program which includes providing direct funding to Urban Indigenous organization such as Friendship Centres and Métis organizations.

The Medicine is Alive: Indigenous Focusing Oriented Therapy from the Client Perspective

Melissa Lupton

While Indigenous people account for only 5% of the general population of Canada, they are greatly overrepresented in our social service systems. We see a clear need for change in these 'helping' fields. Counselling psychology is dominated by western Eurocentric approaches that are not accessed by Indigenous people for several reasons. The Canadian Psychological Association's (CPA) response to the TRC of Canada encourages psychologists to familiarize themselves with Indigenous approaches to therapy. One approach, highlighted in CPA's response, is Indigenous Focusing-Oriented Therapy (IFOT). There is a dearth of research for counsellors to familiarize themselves with IFOT, so the aim of this research was to fill this gap in the literature. The current research looked specifically at the client perspective of IFOT. The question was: How do clients experience IFOT? The question was examined following a Storywork methodology. Storytellers shared their experience of IFOT from the client perspective. Through a meaning making process, themes emerged. IFOT as ceremony, a decolonized approach, IFOT felt sense, Medicines, Land, and All My Relations were the identified themes. These are understood non-linearly; they are each interconnected.

Ooma La Michinn: Walking in Wellness with Métis Youth for Life Promotion

Logan Burd

In response to the Calls to Action for transformation by the Province of BC, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015), and the In Plain Sight report (Turpel-Lafond, 2020), Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) is working to provide resources grounded in Métis-ways of knowing. Métis youth are at higher risk for mental illness, and culturally appropriate suicide prevention programs are limited or non-existent (Auger, 2019; Smith et al., 2019). MNBC and our Métis advisory panel have chosen to focus on life promotion approaches rather than suicide prevention. We focus on connecting youth with their Métis culture and identity in a positive and meaningful way. Titled Ooma La Michinn (Here is Medicine), the overarching theme for this project is one of connection. Drawing from Métis focused research and community knowledge, we have created five online modules grounded in Métis content, emphasizing life promotion. The modules focus on connection to wellness, culture, community, self, and land. Creating this project has been ongoing and informed by a Métis advisory panel. The goal is to foster community connections and bring youth back into their Métis culture, identity, and spirituality to promote wellness as a whole. The project highlights the importance of community connection extending beyond physical space and will provide free and accessible online Métis-focused resources for Métis youth. The Ooma La Michinn project also presents opportunities to promote and prioritize Métis' ways of knowing and methodologies to the forefront of current research which is essential to addressing the currently identified literature gaps.

Indigenous Peoples' Engagement and Research Council: Indigenous engagement and governance within a kidney research network

Jocelyn Jones

The Can-SOLVE CKD Network is a pan-Canadian patient-oriented kidney research initiative that is working to improve the health of all Canadians and bring Indigenous ways of knowing into health research. The Indigenous Peoples’ Engagement and Research Council (IPERC) plays a valuable role in providing governance and oversight within the Can-SOLVE CKD Network. IPERC exists to ensure Indigenous voices are heard and to guide research priorities that affect Indigenous communities and individuals with kidney disease. IPERC acknowledges the unique aspects of patient-oriented research which involves First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. Members of the council include patients, families, caregivers, Knowledge Keepers, Elders, educators, physicians, nurses, and other health professionals.

Rethinking Wellness: Bringing traditional practices into urban spaces for Indigenous Youth

Keyara Brody

Indigenous youth in Canada face some of the most profound health inequities as a direct result of colonization and the historical and current traumas imposed on Indigenous Peoples. With the growing acknowledgment that culture is a key protective factor for Indigenous Peoples’ health and wellness, Indigenous cultural identity and connectedness is being promoted as a means of reducing the social and health inequities Indigenous communities’ experience. More than half of all Indigenous Peoples in Canada live in metropolitan areas. Urban Indigenous youth are one of the fastest growing demographics, illuminating the need to address what land-based traditional wellness practices look like in urban spaces. Indigenous youth in particular, have identified the importance of creating urban spaces for fostering support, community and culture, including access to spaces for engaging with cultural activities, traditional practices and Elders. Providing better access to traditional practices in urban spaces that increases connections to land, community and culture can address the gap in health and wellness for urban Indigenous youth. While many barriers and facilitators of Indigenous wellness and traditional practices have been identified, literature is lacking on the access and implementation of these practices that increase health and wellness in urban settings, and even less literature on this access for urban Indigenous youth. Not surprisingly, current policy is also lacking to address Indigenous health and urban Indigenous service needs. This presentation shares the current understandings of traditional health and wellness practices in urban settings for Indigenous youth and explores possible avenues for further engagement.

Indigenous Restorative Justice to Restore Health and Identity

Kelsey Darnay

Indigenous peoples are over-represented in the Canadian justice system because of colonization. Colonization has replaced longstanding governance and legal practices that are fundamental to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples and forced colonial legal systems upon them that punishes indigeneity, separates individuals from their communities, and reinforces historical traumas. While Canada’s Criminal Code has been amended to include section 718.2(e) in an attempt to alleviate over-representation, incarceration rates of Indigenous peoples continue to increase. Using community-engaged, decolonial, Indigenous methodologies, this research explores the reconnection of individuals to cultural traditions and practices through Indigenous restorative justice (RJ), and the role in promoting health and wellbeing and restoration of community balance through wholistic healing. The loss of traditional ways of living and practices takes away fundamental determinants of Indigenous peoples’ health that are essential to their wellbeing, and Indigenous RJ aims to reconnect individuals to traditional ways. This research will be conducted in partnership with my urban-Indigenous community in the Niagara Region. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches will be used to examine statistical data from the program and interviews with Elders, knowledge keepers, program coordinators and participants regarding their perspectives of the program. The research is currently in the proposal stage.

Fostering Mental Wellness with Community-Based Research and Mentorships 

Desiree Marshall-Peer, Margaret Macintyre Latta, Elizabeth MacDonald, Morgan Raske, Brianna Chernenkoff, Alana Firedancer, Danielle Lamb

This poster reflects the community-based research experience of undergraduate and newly graduated students, working on the SSHRC funded project Honouring Indigenous Connections to Culture, Land and the Relational Self. Research assistants will share their insights and experiences with community-based research, and the role of Indigenous wellness both as an outcome and direct process within the research. The trainees will disseminate scholarly and creative content and will share how they work through the experience to create wellness within the project for both themselves, the community, and land. Together, they will bring attention to learning/unlearning significances —committed to curricular Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation. The undergraduate research assistant’s (URAs) offer personal insight on fulfilling their responsibilities within the project by creating pathways for fostering wellness within themselves, community, and land. Each URA specifically engages with how the project impacts and creates wellness within the six core concepts: practices of learning/unlearning/relearning, mentoring, community-based research, community agreements, Indigenization, habits, practices and well-being. Working as bridges between various knowledge systems and community groups, the URAs will speak to combining their research experience and creating wider wefts of understanding. These connections work as foundations to undo and stop harm, while creating a momentum for holistic healing within the education system. URAs aid in fostering teacher’s wellbeing that improves the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of School District #23 which directly benefits the Syilx community and Indigenous guests. By increasing Syilx-informed knowledge within the classrooms, it decreases stigmatization and increases visibility of future Indigenous opportunities.

The Kokum Scarf as a Symbol of Solidarity: Restoring Relations for Well-being

Avery Shtykalo

To be well, we must have good relations. Stories, Indigenous scholarship, and other transmissions of Indigenous knowledge tell us that we are interconnected to everyone and everything – that our existence is dependent upon relationality. Indigenous Peoples have attempted to build interpersonal relationships with non-Indigenous Peoples that were built on mutuality, sharing and reciprocity. Unfortunately, the majority of settlers have not reciprocated these values leading to ongoing colonization and the genocide of Indigenous Peoples, negatively affecting Indigenous Peoples’ well-being. However, Indigenous Peoples have resisted against colonialism and have called for renewed relations. Through analyzing scholarship and my own experience of being a Ukrainian settler majoring in Indigenous Studies, and a researcher in an Indigenous Health Promotion and Cultural Safety Lab, I have learned that many settlers are unsure of how to approach relation-building. Through the exploration of historical relationships between early Ukrainian settlers and Indigenous Peoples marked by the Kokum Scarf, we can find teachings of reciprocal relationships that promoted mutual wellness. Contextualized within Indigenous scholarship on decolonization, allyship, solidarity and reconciliation, this research uncovers stories of wisdom to guide settler-Indigenous relationships to promote reciprocal well-being. In this presentation, questions surrounding restoring settler-Indigenous relationships will be explored: How does white fragility and white guilt prevent settlers from building relationships? What is truly allyship and what is performative? What is the difference between decolonization and reconciliation in terms of relationships? Finally, we will discuss the vibrant, floral Kokum Scarf’s symbolization and connection to all of these intersecting concepts to support Indigenous wellness.

Empowering Justice: Exploring the Significance and Impact of Gladue Writing in Restorative Practices

April Carrier, Brian Lester

This panel discussion delves into the significance and impact of Gladue writing in restorative practices, exploring its role in empowering justice for Indigenous communities. Rooted in Section 718.2(e) of the Canadian Criminal Code, Gladue writing acknowledges the historical injustices faced by Indigenous peoples, aiming to provide a more culturally sensitive and holistic approach to sentencing. Through a comprehensive analysis of real-life cases and experiences, the panel brings together experts, practitioners, and community leaders to highlight the transformative potential of Gladue writing. By incorporating cultural context and addressing intergenerational trauma, Gladue writing has the capacity to foster reconciliation, restore relationships, and promote healing for both victims and offenders. Moreover, the discussion delves into the challenges and successes of implementing Gladue writing in Canadian legal systems, advocating for increased access to culturally competent Gladue report writers and collaborative engagement with Indigenous communities. The goal is to inspire meaningful change within restorative practices, ensuring justice becomes truly empowering and equitable for all.

Our Shared Journey: Exploring Esk’etemc Palliative Care Needs and the Nav-CARE Intervention

Cara Basil, Doreen M. Johnson, Barb Pesut

Our panel will present our shared journey from three perspectives: Esk’etemc Knowledge Keeper, Esk’etemc Traditional Knowledge and Research Ethics Chair, & Supervisor Doreen M. Johnson, Graduate Supervisor Barb Pesut, and Graduate Student Cara Basil. Since 2021, Esketemc, UBCO and Graduate Student Cara Basil have partnered to understand current community-based practices for caring for one another, envisioning a community-based model of navigation with the Esk’etemc, and exploring whether Nav-CARE could be adapted to suit Esk’etemc cultural beliefs and practices. The panel will share how the partnership uncovered barriers posed by academia when conducting research with Indigenous Peoples and communities, how to navigate those barriers, and the shared research journey that captured Esk’etemc knowledge through community talking circles.

stem čxʷ k̓ʷə́cnəxʷ? łqíl̕təm θə sil̕ə What do you see? asked Granny

Cheyenne Cunningham, Leah Meunier

This is a story in the hən̓q̓əmín̓əm̓ language (with english translation). The story begins with Little Wren and her Granny as they embark on their journey. Granny teaches Little Wren about Katzie traditional ecological knowledge. For example: What is that? Asked little wren - stem tθéʔ? łqíl̕təm θə tət̕emíyəʔ This is a seagull said granny - q̓ʷəlítəq teʔí səw θət θə síl̕ə The ocean seagull tells us that the eulachon are in the river - ʔi q̓ʷə́l̕qʷəl̕əs tə q̓ʷəlítəq kʷθə swíw̓ə sən̓íw̓ kʷθə stál̕əw̓. The story relates to Indigenous wellbeing as it contributes to Indigenous language revitalization and Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge. Language revitalization and reclamation is connected to health and wellbeing as it allows us to delve into the cultural and traditional activities of our ancestors through land-based learning. The depth of knowledge, including language, is rooted in Indigenous peoples’ inhabitation of place, and expressed in their material, ancestral, and physical worlds. Land based knowledge is a productive and sustaining form of literacy. Many cultural practices and protocols take place out on the land and are expressed through storytelling. The story reviews traditional knowledge and language for folks who may not otherwise have access due to colonization. Although Katzie traditional ecological knowledge may not be the same as other nations, in sharing the story, it provides an opportunity for knowledge sharing and to see commonalities (if any) among Coast Salish and Interior Salish Indigenous communities.

bottom of page