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The Big House is Kwakwa’kawakw Medicine


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Culture and Health Research Project, Alert Bay
Rural Aboriginal Maternity Care Project(2003-2006)

Vera Newman
Barbara Cranmer
Helen Brown
Kali-Olt Sedgemore
Trevor Isaac

Published in: Health & Medicine
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The Big House is Kwakwa’kawakw Medicine

  1. 1. The Big House is Kwakwa’kawakw Medicine Vera Newman Barbara Cranmer Helen Brown Kali-Olt Sedgemore Trevor Isaac National Aboriginal Health Organization National Conference, 2009 Our People, Our Health Nov 24-26, 2009
  2. 2. History Rural Aboriginal Maternity Care Project (2003-2006)
  3. 3. Kwakwaka’wakw, Culture, Tradition, Health and Well-Being in Alert Bay 2007-2009 Project Goals:  To understand the relationship between Kwakwaka’wakw culture and health;  Create strategies and recommendations to enhance the health of the community through the connection to culture
  4. 4. Logo on scenic Youth Artists & Research Assistants: Trevor Isaac & Kali Sedgemore
  5. 5. 38 Research Participants: 20 females, 18 males (ages 14-83)
  6. 6. “We believe when we are strong in our culture, we are healthy, and well-balanced as a people”
  7. 7. History and Tradition as Methodology The Kwakwa’kawakw Teachings
  8. 8. Data Analysis  Beginning with the wisdom of the elders – line by line reading, asking “what is important? “How does this insight compare and contrast with what others have said?” “Where are the contradictions?”  Honoring stories and experiences, knowing that how we read the transcripts is shaped by our own ideas about the topic, and our biases and assumptions
  9. 9. “Culture and health have to go together, you have to be healthy to be present, and being present is strength in culture”
  10. 10. Findings  We’re Kwakwaka’wakw and we have laws that are spiritual that will sustain us through time. If we go by the mamala it will destroy us. We will be the healthiest when we can give expression to that.
  11. 11. I think health and culture should be inseparable. It’s actually essential because culture is the medium, or the forum or the process that allows us to give full expression to who we are, mentally, physically, spiritually, collectively as friends and family, individually, historically looking forward…
  12. 12. Implications for Health Services in Alert Bay Importance of language as foundational to health and well-being  “ People might not complain since they feel The importance of they are just lucky to community driven have services at all” change The necessity of effective (participant) implementation plans
  13. 13. Recommendations  Evolving health programs to better account for how health and culture go together in local contexts  Reducing the incidence of illness, disease, and trauma through the riches of culture, connection and community  Drawing on history and tradition to mitigate the impacts of illness, disease, and trauma.  Whose voices need to be heard? How will we work together?
  14. 14. The knowledge is here, the capacity is here if we start to think holistically about we can resolve some of the problems. I think the community starts with good leadership, we see the big picture and we see how we can maximize all those resources, we have it all throughout our community.