Culturally Grounded Post-Secondary Learner Wellness at Indigenous Institutes in Ontario (E/SI)
April 24, 2023 | 3:15 pm - 4:15 pm
In 2022, the Indigenous Institutes Consortium (IIC) initiated a community-based research project on culturally grounded post-secondary learner wellness. Working with seven of Ontario’s nine Indigenous community-mandated and territorially-based post-secondary institutions (the Indigenous Institutes, or IIs), the project team engaged with current learners, alumni, staff, and subject matter experts to explore and/or document the wellness indicators, processes, policies, activities, interventions, and resources that flow from the unique ontologies, epistemologies, and axiologies of Ontario’s Indigenous communities and nations. Building on prior work at the IIs and IIC, the resulting wellness model framework constitutes the first phase of a longer-horizon initiative to develop a self-care toolkit, or “personal wellness bundle” that uses innovative delivery modalities to meaningfully engage Indigenous college, university, and skilled trades learners. In this session, representatives of Ontario’s Indigenous Institutes and members of the research team will present the project’s unique methodology and findings, including successful modalities for sharing insights across and within communities and community-based organizations; the cultural and relational foundations of wellbeing in Indigenous educational contexts; the deep impacts of COVID-19 on conceptions of wellness, and ideas about how it is best protected and promoted; the centrality of land and language into functional well-being models; lessons learned through prior wellness initiatives; the key distinctions between “Indigenous” and “Indigenized” frameworks, and why mainstream models are both insufficient and inappropriate; and emerging best practices in culturally grounded wraparound supports for holistic and whole-person wellbeing.