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Narrative description of Miyo-Mahcihoyan(Well-Being) from a contemporary Nehiyawak (Plains Cree) perspective



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There are unequivocal health disparities, both physical and mental, between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of Canada. Utilizing narrative inquiry, a qualitative methodology, 15 néhiyawak (Plains Cree people) between 18 and 71 years of age from Thunderchild First Nation were interviewed to explore what improved their mental health and well-being and what they needed to attain optimal mental health and well-being. The néhiyawak interviewed for this study responded with descriptions of strength and resilience. By posing questions that focused on the positive, the strengths, and resilience of the néhiyawak in this study came to the forefront. Narrative thematic analysis of the interviews conducted with the néhiyawak from Thunderchild First Nation consistently revealed four overarching themes that highlighted what positively impacted their mental health and well-being and their perceived needs to attain optimal mental health and well-being: relationships; spiritual beliefs and cultural practices; tānisīsi wāpahtaman pimātisiwin (worldview); and ēkwa ōhi kikwaya piko ka-ispayiki kīspin ka-nohtē-miyo-mahcihoyān (these are the things that need to happen if I want to be healthy). The néhiyawak in this study described holistic health determinants that could best be associated with the medicine wheel and the determinants of health as making a positive difference to their mental health and as necessary for them to obtain optimal mental health and well-being. These results suggest that mental health programming and intervention should be harmonious with Indigenous culture; utilize a holistic approach that takes physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being into consideration; and address the existing mental health disparities using the determinants of health as a framework, with an increased focus on the current socio-economic status of Indigenous peoples in Canada.



medicine wheel, narrative descriptions of mental health, determinants of health, mental health, Indigenous, Aboriginal mental health, Aboriginal holistic well-being, First Nation health



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational Psychology and Special Education


Educational Psychology and Special Education


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