A Healing Space: The Experiences of First Nations and Inuit Youth with Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL)

Child and Youth Care Forum
DOI: 10.1007/s10566-011-9140-z

Original Paper
Colleen Anne Dell, Darlene Chalmers, Nora Bresette, Sue Swain, Deb Rankin and Carol Hopkins


The Nimkee NupiGawagan Healing Centre (NNHC) in Muncey, ON provides residential treatment to First Nations and Inuit youth who abuse solvents. As a complement to its culture-based programming, in 2008 the centre began offering weekly equine-assisted learning (EAL) curriculum to its clients in partnership with the Keystone Equine Centre and the Lambton Equine Assisted Learning Centre. This study explores the potential benefit of the EAL program on youths’ healing. We conducted 15 interviews with two intakes of male and female EAL program participants and 6 NNHC and EAL staff, reviewed EAL facilitator and NNHC staff reflections and participants’ EAL journals, and observed the EAL program. It was concluded that youths’ healing was aided through the availability of a culturally-relevant space; from within an Aboriginal worldview this understanding of space is central to individual and communal well-being. This was conveyed in three key themes that emerged from the data: spiritual exchange, complementary communication, and authentic occurrence. This understanding provides insight into the dynamics of healing for Aboriginal youth who abuse solvents, and may be applicable to other programming and populations.• Download PDF (229.2 KB)
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