Importance of Spiritual Wellbeing in Community-Based Health Interventions in Indigenous Peoples in BC
Background: The health gap between Indigenous peoples and other populations in Canada is of concern. Various health promotion and wellness programs have been attempted in Indigenous communities, but many of these programs have been ineffectual partly because they are not culturally sensitive, culturally relevant, or wholistic. Purpose: This narrative review discusses the foundational concepts of wholistic health and community-based programming with reference to two programs based at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Tu’Wusht Garden Project and the Summer Science Program, that integrate spiritual wellbeing into health programming. We further discuss how the frameworks from these programs can be used in other Indigenous communities. Foundational Concepts: The wholistic or Indigenous model of health is guided by the teachings of the Medicine Wheel and includes mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. While current health programs often address physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, they frequently fail to incorporate spiritual wellbeing because of how diffuse spiritual wellbeing can be as a concept for health practitioners in Canada. Discussion: The Tu’Wusht Garden Project utilizes traditional activities (like gardening and ceremony) to integrate spiritual health into programming and engage Indigenous community members in health programming. The UBC Summer Science uses a contemporary Two-Eyed Seeing approach to blend Western and Indigenous health lessons. This includes spiritual health into programming and offsets any weakness of Western or Indigenous health models. Both programs have received strong support from Indigenous peoples. Conclusions: Collectively, these programs demonstrate the importance of including spiritual health lessons within health and wellness programming within Indigenous communities.
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