Social-relational understandings of health and well-being from an Indigenous Perspective
This article presents the findings from a research project that examined how well-being, especially with regard to diabetes prevention, was understood within an Indigenous community, Kahnawà:ke, a Kanien’kehá:ka community on the St. Lawrence River near Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Both philosophical hermeneutics and Indigenous ways of knowing were used to achieve a decolonized research approach to undertaking and analysing interviews from key stakeholders. The research findings revealed that the social- conditions created by external Western influences on culture, language, and epistemologies are strongly connected to the relational conditions that continue to influence the health and well-being of individuals, families, and the community. Indigenous well-being was found to be closely related to the concept of being Onkwehon:we, to the roles and responsibilities of families as nurturers of health-promoting relationships, and to processes expected to promote the healing of multigenerational traumas rooted in a history of colonization. Developing a shared understanding of Indigenous people’s knowledge about what is required to effectively prevent type 2 diabetes, while simultaneously fostering the sense of being Onkwehon:we, is a new approach to health promotion within Indigenous communities.