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Traditional Indigenous Approaches to Healing and the modern welfare of Traditional Knowledge, Spirituality and Lands: A critical reflection on practices and policies taken from the Canadian Indigenous Example

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Author(s): Julian A. Robbins | Jonathan Dewar

Journal: International Indigenous Policy Journal
ISSN 1916-5781

Volume: 2;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Indigenous | health | healing | Canada | tradition | policy

ABSTRACT
In order for traditional knowledge to be maintained and to develop, it has to be practiced. Traditional healing provides a vehicle for this to occur. In Canada, the spiritual revitalization of Indigenous communities and individuals often involves the use numerous components of traditional healing. These elements are reflectedmost clearly at the grassroots level, however, current Indigenous programs delivered by Indigenous and governmental agencies have made some accommodating efforts as well. Perhaps most importantly, traditional knowledge and Indigenous spirituality hinges on the maintenance and renewal of relationships to the land.Indigenous land bases and the environment as a whole remain vitally important to the practice of traditional healing.A focus on Indigenous healing, when discussing Indigenous knowledge systems and spirituality, is paramount today due to the large scale suppression of Indigenous cultural expressions during the process of colonization. With respect to policy, there appears to be a historical progression of perception or attitude towards Indigenous traditional healing in Canada from one of disfavour to one favour. There are nevertheless continuing challenges for traditional healing. Mainstream perceptions and subsequent policy implementations sometimes still reflect attitudes that were formulated during the decline of traditional healing practice during colonization processes. As a consequence the ability for particular communities to maintain and use their specific understandings ofIndigenous knowledge continues encounter obstacles. Indigenous Knowledge systems are living entities and not relics of the past. Today, these knowledge systems are still greatly being applied to help Indigenous communities and Indigenous people recover fromintergenerational pain and suffering endured during the colonization process. Future policy development and implementation should aim to support Indigenous peoples and communities when they decide to learn about, maintain and build upon the knowledge amassed by their ancestors.
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