June 23rd, 2024

Viva Vitality: Balancing mind, body, spirit and emotions

By Medicine Hat News on June 22, 2018.

This week, June 18-22, Canadians take time to recognize the diverse cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities by celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Week.

In co-operation with Indigenous Peoples’ national organizations, the Government of Canada designated June 21 as National Indigenous Peoples Day, a celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ culture and heritage. This date was chosen because it corresponds to the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and because for generations, many Indigenous Peoples’ groups have celebrated their culture and heritage at this time of year.

National Indigenous Peoples Day is a wonderful opportunity to become better acquainted with the cultural diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, discover the unique accomplishments of Indigenous Peoples in fields as varied as agriculture, the environment and the arts, and celebrate their significant contribution to Canadian society.

This year is the 22nd year since the former Governor General of Canada, Romeo LeBlanc, declared National Aboriginal Day annually on June 21.

The Northwest Territories took it a step farther, and declared National Aboriginal Day a statutory holiday. June 21 was chosen since it coincides with the Summer Solstice. Indigenous philosophy asserts the summer solstice as a sacred and spiritual time of the year since the sun is at its closest to the earth and therefore at its strongest. Indigenous people believe all things are animate, imbued with a spirit and in constant motion.

The cyclical view of the world emphasizes the importance of renewal, as with cosmic cycles, seasons, migratory patterns and renewal ceremonies. The Blackfoot have sacred ceremonies that will start during this time of year and happen throughout the summer.

Visit the AHS YouTube channel titled ‘AHS Indigenous Health Playlist’ to find a repertoire of Indigenous Health and educational resources for AHS staff and communities.

At the time of contact, Indigenous societies had self-sustaining nations with developed institutions such as health, justice and education. Indigenous practices related to health and well-being were integral components of a communal society. Healing traditions addressed emotional and spiritual wellbeing, utilizing remedies such as physical cures using herbal medicines and other remedies, individual counselling, involvement of elders, ceremony and tribal grandmothers and grandfathers.

Accounts of early explorers frequently document the excellent health and stature of Indigenous people. The Blackfoot were known for being fierce warriors; some accounts referencing them as “The Lords of the Plains” in relation to their tall and large stature.

The contemporary life and health of Indigenous people relies heavily on the resurgence of culture and maintaining continuity within the continuum of care. Incorporating Indigenous cultural approaches into health care delivery provides apparent health benefits. Looking at the whole person from an Indigenous perspective asserts health-care delivered from an integrative perspective that seeks balance of the mind, body, spirit and emotions in a healthy community environment.

To contact members of the AHS South Zone Indigenous Health Team, email Stephanie.FisherDortman2@ahs.ca

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