Our Way of Life: Importance of Indigenous Culture and Tradition to Physical Activity Practices
To challenge the current negative and disease-oriented view in the Western health science paradigm, researchers from the University of Alberta collaborated with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation’s Community Wellness Program in a participatory action research project that took a wellness- and strengths-based approach to explore physical activity. We worked with youth to develop participatory videos about physical activity, which sparked community conversations on health promotion, community wellness, and ways to encourage more people to engage in physical activity. Findings revealed a multifaceted meaning of physical activity, supported by the theme of cultural identity. Participants highlighted aspects of culture, tradition, participation, and the land in defining physical activity. Being active was not only about soccer and running, but also playing traditional games, checking the fishnet, scraping the hide, being out on the land, and participating in the community. In other words, to be physically active was to be culturally active and to actively contribute in the community. Ultimately, through collaboration and dialogue, we generated different meanings of physical activity grounded in wellness, and we reinforced and provided further understanding of the cultural element of this health science terminology in an Indigenous context.
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