Vitality of First Nations cultures remains the same or shows improvement: Regional Health Survey

Ottawa, June 20, 2012 – The majority of adults (83%) taking part in the First Nations Regional Health Survey (RHS) say they feel their cultures on-reserve and in northern communities had either improved or stayed the same. This is encouraging news after decades of government policies that sought to eradicate First Nations languages and cultures.

67% of First Nations adults “sometimes” participated in cultural events in their territories. The RHS found that adults who frequently participated in community cultural events “were less likely to be depressed, more likely to perceive control over their lives, more likely to perceive greater social support, and less likely to use licit and illicit substances.”4 out of 5 First Nations adults considered traditional ceremonies or spirituality at least “somewhat” important, although young adults were less likely to feel the same way.

Jane Gray, the National Projects Manager of the First Nations Governance Information Centre and national coordinator of the RHS, says that while the results are encouraging they are also fragile.

“We’ve seen a lot of hard work on the part of First Nations to stop the erosion and rebuild their languages and cultural practices over the years. Our Health survey shows that First Nations have made some gains but questions remain whether the support will be there for language programs to introduce another generation of youth to their own ceremonies and beliefs.”

A minority of respondents (21%) said they had visited a traditional healer in the 12 months prior to this survey. Despite the low numbers, adds Gray, “these figures are up from 15% in our previous RHS in 2003. It shows that First Nations are making progress to revive their own cultural practices despite the almost constant pressures to give them up.”

For further information:
Gail McDonald
FNIGC National Operations Manager
[email protected]

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