Healthy Living in the North

Celebrating Aboriginal Awareness Week and holistic approaches to health

seaweed, Aboriginal health, healthy eating

Seaweed is left in the sun and open air to dry (Kitkatla, 2011).

Aboriginal Awareness Week was introduced in 1992 as a week to acknowledge and celebrate Aboriginal peoples and the many Aboriginal cultures in Canada, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

In northern British Columbia, the landscape is home to many diverse Aboriginal peoples, territories, languages, and cultures. Across the north, approximately 18 per cent of the total population is Aboriginal. The majority of Aboriginal peoples in northern B.C. are First Nations (approximately 75 per cent), followed by Métis who make up approximately 22 per cent of the Aboriginal population. Less than one per cent is Inuit and approximately three per cent identify as other Aboriginal identity. The largest First Nations population is in the northwest and the largest Métis population is in the northeast.

In 2012, Northern Health invited First Nations and Aboriginal people and groups to participate in regional discussions about holistic health. From this, we learned about holistic health from a northern Indigenous perspective. For many Indigenous peoples, holistic health is based on a relational worldview. At the heart of this view is an understanding that all things are connected and in relationship to one another. Land, water, air, animals, individuals, families, and communities are all connected and related.

At the heart of holistic health is an understanding that all things are connected and in relationship to one another.

Cultural activities and teachings are an important part of holistic health; language is central. These activities and teachings affirm resilience and a sense of belonging to a collective culture and community. Collective activities provide opportunities for relationship building and learning. Individual actions to achieve holistic health include living a life based on relational values as well as actions that include respect for oneself and others.

To create a shared understanding of a holistic vision of wellness, the First Nations Health Authority has developed the First Nations Perspective on Wellness. To learn more, visit fnha.ca.

Individual actions to achieve holistic health include living a life based on relational values as well as actions that include respect for oneself and others.

Northern Health is committed to partnering with First Nations and Aboriginal peoples and to building a health system that honours diversity and provides services in a culturally respectful manner. To learn more, visit: northernhealth.ca/YourHealth/AboriginalHealth.aspx. From there, you can access more information on holistic health in a Northern Health report called All That Heals: Discussions on holistic health in northern BC.

What are some ways you think your health is connected to other things?

 

The author would like to acknowledge Hilary McGregor, knowledge translation and community engagement lead, Aboriginal Health, Northern Health for her contributions to this blog post.

Margo Greenwood

About Margo Greenwood

Dr. Margo Greenwood is the Vice-President of Aboriginal Health at Northern Health. Margo is deeply invested in the health and well-being of Indigenous children, families and communities. As a mother of three, she is personally committed to the continued well-being of children and youth in Canada. Margo also has two big dogs that keep her active. She is a long-distance walker and has completed several half-marathon walks.

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