"A spoke in the wheel": Understanding experiences of 'Métis Red River Jig' dancers and impacts of the Métis Red River Jig on health and well-being


Indigenous Peoples in Canada have experienced disruptions in cultures, traditions, identities, and social and community structures through centuries of ongoing colonization and assimilation. The Métis Red River Jig dance is important in maintaining and extending community ties, has survived the cultural genocide aims of colonization, and continues to thrive. This dance combines Plains First Nation, Scottish, Irish, Scandinavian and French-Canadian dance forms in alternating sections of the "double step" and varied fancy steps. The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of Red River Jig dancers and impacts of Red River Jigging on their health and well-being. In partnership with Li Toneur Niimiyitoohk Métis Dance group, this narrative inquiry used conversational interviews to hear stories from ten Red River Jiggers (6 females; 20-62 years), proficient in dancing the "double step". Stories were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2019) conducted. Four themes were created from stories shared to understand how dancing the Red River Jig influences health and well-being: (1) "It's the bonding, building community, and strengthening": Red River Jigging is community; (2) "Heightened sense of pride and awareness": Embracing and reclaiming culture and identity; (3) "You have to utilize your mind, body and spirit": A "spoke in the wheel" of wholistic health and; (4) "Dancing has kept me sober": Therapy and healing from historic trauma. These findings support cultural traditions including the Red River Jig as vital to restoring cultural identity and facilitating Indigenous Peoples' physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being.

Acknowledgments: Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF)