"It's exhausting to always be self-editing": The importance of culture and social support in the health of Métis peoples


Métis Peoples, recognized Indigenous Peoples in Canada, are distinct from other Indigenous Peoples with unique histories, culture, and traditions. Historic and ongoing colonization and assimilation policies and practices negatively affect mental, physical, emotional and social health of Indigenous Peoples. These impacts on Métis Peoples, specifically, are unclear, but health impacts and experiences appear to differ from First Nations Peoples' experiences. The purpose of this narrative study was to understand Métis adults' experiences of culture and social support with regards to their health and well-being. In partnership with Saskatoon Métis Local 126, 21 adults (11 males and 10 females, 29.83±10.52 years) participated in conversational interviews and photovoice reflections. These participants' stories, recorded and transcribed verbatim, enabled subsequent reflexive thematic analysis to make meaning of the experiences shared. Five themes, supported by photographs, were created to represent the importance of culture and social support to Métis Peoples' health: (1) Community: "The foundation health and wellness was built on"; (2) "The Métis Person": Identity, acknowledgement and acceptance; (3) A balancing act: "Choosing the safer role"; (4) "Being comfortable and vulnerable at the same time": Connections to the land and nature and; (5) Education and cultural enlightenment: "The new form of Métis resistance" and healing. These findings support culture and social support as health protective factors important in facilitating positive health outcomes and lifestyles for Métis Peoples. Supporting and facilitating Métis Peoples' health requires awareness of Métis identity complexities, and enabling spaces and communities where expressing identity and practicing traditions are culturally safe.

Acknowledgments: This research is funded by Heart and Stroke, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)