Te Mauri - Pimatisiwin

Metis Identity: Sharing Traditional Knowledge and Healing Practices at Metis Elders’ Gatherings

 

 

Abstract

The adoption of a holistic and population health approach to Métis health encourages us to consider indicators other than physical health that may contribute to our health and wellness as Métis. This article represents an overview of a traditional knowledge project with Métis Elders from across Canada, initiated by the Métis Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization. It is a collaboration between a Métis researcher and one of the Métis Elders who participated in the national and regional Métis Elders’ Gatherings over a four-year period. Based upon a collaborative presentation at the 2006 Healing Our Spirit Worldwide conference, the authors present their experiences as participants in this unique initiative as shared by the group of Métis Elders, seniors and healers with whom they engaged. From the knowledge made available through this process, factors that contribute to Métis identity, health, healing and wellness are identified and further explored. The foundations for the article rest on the following themes identified by project participants: health and healing by Métis through listening to ancestral voices; a return to the Michif language; a greater awareness of the significance of the role of Métis women and family to the health of communities; a better understanding of the centrality of our relationship to the environment for individual and community health and wellness; and an awareness of historical, cultural and Aboriginal language perspectives for understanding traditional cultural practices and protocols. The Métis Elders’ Gatherings are a demonstration of how events can facilitate and foster the exchange and practice of traditional knowledge in a respectful and reciprocal manner. It was a clear outcome of the process to the participating Métis Elders, seniors and healers that this type of collaborative community-based research initiative contributes to the enhancement of their own health as Métis today and, therefore, in turn, will contribute to the health of future generations.

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