Tradition + Transition
ENGLISH/INUKTITUT
traditionandtransition@mun.ca        

Land-based Wellness in Nunatsiavut Cultural Landscapes

May 2018

Guest post by: Edward Allen, PhD Student, Memorial University

My name is Edward Allen Jr. and I am from Rigolet. Like my father, I have spent many years helping in the areas of wellness. I have always admired the resiliency and strength, generosity, community, and laughter of our Nunatsiavimmiut, and how we are able to foster and retain wellbeing in sometimes challenging circumstances. I have heard many people express that their relationship with the land is one of the key determinants related to their psychological, physical, and socioemotional wellbeing. Being on the land has often been described as therapeutic.

I would like to learn more about the processes that make being on the land therapeutic. For instance, some people say they feel grounded, calm, and fulfilled while on the land. Some say that their identity, spirituality, and sense of purpose comes from being on the land, that they learn attunement, patience, self-sufficiency, and develop other capacities that help them in their day to day life.

I believe that we can acknowledge and honor the therapeutic processes with respectful research, conducted in unity with cultural values and interests, that draws on the expertise of Nunatsiavimmiut. This kind of research could further verify the therapeutic value of Inuit ways of being and doing when it comes to fostering and retaining wellness.

I am currently attending school at Memorial University in the Department of Geography. I hope to use this incredible opportunity to learn more about Inuit wellness practices and how they are connected to the land. I will be respectfully seeking guidance and authorisation from NG’s Research Center to be able to speak with people from each of our communities. I hope to find people who are willing to share their stories and knowledge about:

  1. both the past and current wellness practices of the Labrador Inuit,
  2. what makes being on the land therapeutic, and
  3. how those things help us foster and maintain our wellbeing in other areas of our lives.

The things that our people share would then be put together in a document that will confirm the significance of Inuit knowledge. The report would also be a resource for anybody who wants to know more about land-based wellness in Nunatsiavut. It would add to the growing body of Inuit led research on land-based education and programming and may be useful to those who develop policies related to the wellness of Nunatsiavimmiut.

I believe that the rest of the world could learn a lot from Inuit ways of being and doing in regards to wellness. However, Inuit ways of knowing must be presented in a respectful and authentic way that prioritizes the present and future needs of Nunatsiavut. The support and guidance of the Tradition & Transition Partnership will help ensure that the Traditional knowledge and live experiences shared will be represented in a way that is both relevant and meaningful to Inuit and informative to non-Inuit. In this way we can further demonstrate the continuing vitality of Labrador Inuit culture and ways of knowing to broader audiences.

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