Gimiigiwemin: Putting Knowledge Translation Into Practice With Anishinaabe Communities

  • Joshua Kane Tobias The University of Western Ontario
  • Chantelle Richmond University of Western Ontario
Keywords: Knowledge translation, Anishinaabe, Ojibway, Elders, Lake Superior, environmental repossession, community-based research, resistance, talking circles, qualitative


In the Anishinaabemowen lagnuage, Gimiigiwemin is a concept that means, “we are exchanging gifts.” In the context of research, Indigenous communities often share their gifts with researchers by exposing them to local ways of knowing. Researchers can engage in exchanging gifts through sharing their skills and working towards producing research that meets community needs, such as supporting efforts to maintain health-sustaining relationships with traditional lands. Environmental repossession refers to the social, cultural, and political processes through which Indigenous Peoples are building resilience and reclaiming their traditional lands and ways of life. These processes are important because the health, ways of living, and knowledge systems of Indigenous Peoples all depend on access to traditional lands. This paper presents the results of a community-based participatory research study conducted in collaboration with Elders (= 46) from two Anishinaabe communities on the north shore of Lake Superior (Ontario, Canada). This research employed locally relevant forms of integrated knowledge translation as a means of exchanging the gift of knowledge amongst all involved. This process culminated in a 2-day celebration wherein talking circles were used to explore Elders’ ideas about potential strategies for environmental repossession in their communities. Results from the talking circles pointed to four main strategies: (1) re-establishing the relationship between Elders and youth, (2) increasing time spent on traditional lands, (3) improving physical health, and (4) fostering community pride. This research emphasizes the strength of adopting culturally appropriate approaches to knowledge translation within studies aimed at supporting community aspirations of environmental repossession. 


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