Table 1:

Quotes supporting primary theme and subthemes

Theme; subthemeRepresentative quote
ConnectionI come to you today to share the spirit, wisdom and culture of our Métis heritage. … In the 1940s and the ’50s, it was against the law to speak our Michif language, against the law to gather as a family or have community dances. Every summer in July, my parents would place willows and a canvas over the box of the truck and load their family of 10. Clothing, bedding, food, cooking supplies, and we headed off to Lac Ste. Anne pilgrimage. … We were taught to pray through the love of our parents. This was also a time for friends and relatives to visit and share their language, fish, dried meat, bannock and stew. Loving times with people of Métis gathered. … They would walk for miles to be with their own people. … I have memories and visions of my parents walking in the healing waters of Lac Ste. Anne. The spirit of Lac Ste. Anne will remain in my heart forever. No one can take the spirit of God from us. I have shared Lac Ste. Anne with my children and my grandchildren. (Doreen Dumont Vaness Bergum, Elder*)

Our Creator, Great Spirit and Lord, is viewed, pondered, worshipped by all.
Where for art Thou? Everywhere, in everything.
Tho far beyond words I have another name for the way in which we are never alone.
Thee Orchestrator of Infinity rhymes with Divinity, while embracing every heartbeat of every creature
Poetry in motion, Loves our devotion. (Travis Ronald*)

How are [health, spirituality and well-being] separated — one cannot be without the others — spirituality is the nucleus or focus which keeps all others in balance and sync. (Participant C-004)

I find if you are not of a sound mind, then your body will never “fully” be healthy. Our health starts internally and mentally. (Participant C-023)

When my spirit loses a sense of purpose, lack of love, too much stress, life distractions, then my health starts to decline and my whole sense of well-being suffers adversely. We must feed all: mind, body, soul, spirit and love! (Participant C-013)

Take medicine and food that you grow. Be happy and don’t dwell on negative people. Walk away lonely from people [who] will hurt you. (Participant C-001)

I learned of the medicine circle many years ago. It is an Aboriginal approach to the way that there are 4 directions in life — North, South, East and West. There are also 4 major categories for humans to consider and prioritize — mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. I have been told and consider it to be a very valuable way of looking at things. … Balance all 4 of these areas equally. If you are too emotional or too spiritual, your other areas will be less fulfilled, causing you to be unbalanced. Just as the wind is under both wings of every bird, there is a natural balance to admire and to strive to achieve in your own ingredients of life. (Participant C-020)

Most people [who] have addictions are hurting inside, and they are trying to fix it. (Participant C-008)

Addiction and spirituality — both are very deep in nature and effect. One is dangerous, and the other is strengthening. In other words, opposites yet competing. Spirituality and cultural history as a tool for healing. One needs something to believe in. To rely on both in an ongoing nature. Something that should deepen over the years as one grows older and more dependent on beliefs as their physical activity decreases and needs something to replace it. (Participant C-015)

A need for continued support for recovering alcoholism and drug abuse. Need a place to go for support groups. List of people to call when think I am going to relapse. (Participant C-030)

When I am not in touch with my spirit, I feel unwell. (Participant C-012)

When you are healthy spiritually, you are usually healthy. (Participant C-011)

Totally connected, the difficulty is Western culture asks us to work and live, leaving emotions and spirituality out of the picture; then we suffer consequences of mental health issues. (Participant C-002)
Connection to Métis ancestryGrounded! Always have known who I was and my family and Métis culture. (Participant C-022)
My grandfather hid from our family that we were Métis because of the prejudice that existed against Métis back in the 1920s, when he started his family near Winnipeg, Manitoba. I didn’t find out that I was Métis until I did some research into my family tree in 2003. It took me over a year on my own to put together the genealogy, but the family history and stories I found to be amazing and explained a lot to me of who I was and why I am the way I am. (Participant C-010)
Once we learnt about our Métis status, we have been learning, trying to understand why my parents never talked about it. My mom, who is now nearly 90 years old, has started to tell us a bit more. (Participant C-006)
The more I share my identity, the more others are accepting of me. The more I hide my identity, the more untrusting (confused) people can be of me. (Participant C-014)
Protecting yourself from racist people. You put up a shield of armour to protect your … hearing, sight and heart. (Participant C-003)
Though some would say that Métis people can usually hide their identity, this hiding does nothing to promote health, spirituality and well-being. [As I am] Métis, lots of people tend to believe that I am not a productive, worthwhile human being. Sometimes it is easier to fall into the trap of what people expect instead of standing up for what I truly believe and what I really am! (Participant C-030)
They tell me to say I am French, as the Métis are sometimes looked down on, but I am who I am. (Participant C-001)
If the medical community is aware that I am Aboriginal, there is obvious discrimination. (Participant C-021)
If I hide my Métis identity, my spirit and my health suffer. If I share my Métis identity with mainstream society, I suffer racism. (Participant C-002)
Connection to communityI believe that addressing the wholeness of a person and of a community is the only way that we can address root causes of the intergenerational and direct trauma that cause Indigenous people to remain on the margins of society. These traumas, combined with systemic racism, trap us in lifestyles where our choices become very limited and the cycles of hopelessness are perpetuated. Our culture and language are who we are and who we always have been. They are our spirituality, our religion and our governance. They are integral to our ability to heal, because without them neither the individual nor the community can reclaim our wholeness. Until we are whole, we cannot see other than what we have already seen. (Participant C-017)
I am highly interested in how past trauma can be passed down to younger generations and how we can break the cycle of addiction/abuse. (Participant C-023)
[Health, spirituality, well-being] are all connected through my community. (Participant C-021)
Once I knew I was Métis and met more Métis, I felt like I had come home. (Participant C-008)
The Métis [people are] very hard working and they are very productive in the community. Lots of the Métis people start companies and contribute to society. (Participant C-030)
I am very new to the community, so being part of this community really brings me joy, which helps with my well-being. (Participant C-016)
Connection to landWe belong to the land, and without our connection to the land and nature we suffer. We are community spirited, and without our kinship we are lost. Strong culture = strong spirit. (Participant C-002)
I have strong feelings that we as a nation of Métis people need to reconnect with the land to be self-sufficient and live off the land to find better health nutritionally but also mentally, and the work to do so creates physical health. Land claims — I hope that as a nation we can get our land back so we can continue to become more self-sufficient and provide healthy food for ourselves. (Participant C-019)
[I] want to see the harvesting rights given to the Métis the same as the First Nations. Grandmother was robbed of her land by the government. (Participant C-030)
How much more beneficial is it with sustainable harvesting to use rod and line? My ancestors were scouts and interpreters — I am honoured with the example they have left for me to follow. (Participant C-004)
Body movement, breath work, connection to land, prayer, smudge, healthy food and being connected to heart is … a major key in my current health. (Participant C-031)
I go to church most weeks, and I believe this helps keep a person happier through the good times and the bad times that this life can dish out. My Catholic religion helps me with spirituality, and my Métis background helps me to find this spirituality in the great outdoors out in the environment and wilderness. (Participant C-010)
Connection to traditionCan we teach cultural history and practices to foster spirituality in a way [that provides] “soul food” for one’s spirit? If we have gaps in our cultural history and identity, can we feel spiritually whole and fulfilled? Passing on Métis traditions and culture to younger generations — [I] feel this is important to foster a younger, healthy, thriving Métis generation. This can take [place] through numerous modalities: music, art, song, games, etc. representing traditional cultures. [It] would be amazing to have cultural “tours” to key Métis historical sites via community bus. Guided, informative and a journey of healing, understanding and cultural immersion … “retreats” — spiritual, cultural, educational — that can be informative, experiential and healing as a collective. (Participant C-013)
I believe having a connection with a higher power gives people a reason to live and a sense of moral responsibility. Our general well-being is constantly affected by our daily decision-making, and our daily decision-making can be directly linked to our spirituality or lack thereof. (Participant C-019)
When I feel spiritually connected, I feel better, physically look better and feel grounded. (Participant C-014)
I walk with the Lord … coming to know Jesus as my Lord and allowing him to be part of my life. He healed my mind, body and soul. (Participant C-008)
My Catholic religion provides me with my God, and my God is the Creator. (Participant C-010)
How best can blending different cultures and spiritual practices be bridged to honour and respect both? (Participant C-013)
Smudging is good and helps me feel good. Also sweats, praying and keeping in touch with my spirituality helps me maintain a good perspective on life. (Participant C-011)
I pray to many gods: [Jesus Christ], Creator, Quan Yin, Buddha, Angel Spirits, Animal Totems. [It] gives a greater sense of totality and connectedness to all having something to offer. I pray, drum, smudge, practise yoga, read about angels after life, traditional practices and … choose what works. (Participant C-013)
Became a eucharistic minister in my church and Lac Ste. Anne pilgrimage. (Participant C-003)
Becoming a pipe healer/storyteller. (Participant C-024)
Blending traditional and nontraditional healing and health care. (Participant C-022)
I attend Christian church and blend my spiritual knowledge and thoughts with the moral ideals and teachings at the church. If there were a Métis church that imparted traditional teachings, I would attend that. (Participant C-019)
  • * Participants requested that their name be included.

  • Read at the data analysis working group session, with permission to share.