Promoting Healthy Urban Environments for Young Indigenous Peoples: The Case of M'Wikwedong Native Cultural Resource Centre
Sanchez Pimienta, Carlos E.
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Background: In the Canadian context, ethical tensions for health promotion in relation with Indigenous health have received limited attention. Urban environments are particularly relevant for an anti-colonial critique of health promotion because urbanization processes have worked to exclude and marginalize Indigenous peoples. For this research, I partnered with M’Wikwedong Native Cultural Resource Centre, a friendship centre in Owen Sound, Ontario. Objectives: Firstly, to explore how M’Wikwedong fosters health in the city of Owen Sound from the perspective of Indigenous youth. Secondly, to suggest ways in which anti-colonial health promotion approaches can be advanced. Thirdly, to reflect on digital storytelling’s potential as an anti-colonial research method. Methods: In May 2017, I moved to Owen Sound. Ongoing volunteer work at M’Wikwedong allowed me to establish a research team. From January to August 2018, I worked with five youth co-researchers using a modified digital storytelling process that facilitated a critical and in-depth inquiry of my co-researchers’ perceptions about M’Wikwedong’s work and produced four videos (1-4 minutes). There were 13 research team meetings and 17 individual video-coaching sessions. We used semi-structured interviews and note-taking to document co-created data. I performed thematic analysis on interview transcripts, observation notes, and video scripts followed by discussions of emergent interpretations with youth co-researchers. Findings: Four thematic categories emerged. The first category highlights M’Wikwedong’s role in intervening in the city to foster welcoming places for Indigenous youth. The second focuses on the conditions that foster a sense of safety in urban environments. The third tackles the relevance of access to Indigenous ways of knowing and living in urban environments. Finally, the fourth emphasizes M’Wikwedong’s supports for youth in carrying on their ideas for making their city a better place to live. Implications: Using environmental repossession as a conceptual lens, M’Wikwedong’s work brings attention to the opportunities of an epistemic shift in health promotion: from an onus on ‘controlling’ health to an onus on fostering ‘connection’ as inherently health promoting. Methodologically, digital storytelling can be a successful process for advancing anti-colonial health promotion agendas if it is properly adapted to the local context and oriented by Indigenous research.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/24846
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