In many Indigenous cultures, health and wellness is defined as a balance between the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental spheres of one’s self. Like ripples radiating across the surface of a pond, wellness diffuses out to all our relations (both human and other-than-human) impacting the health and wellness of the entire ecosystem. The stronger the ripple, the stronger the relational network becomes. At the same time, a breakdown of one or more spheres of health, whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual, destabilizes all our relations.
Although there is a growing movement to decrease social determinants that impede access to optimal health outcomes in Indigenous communities, there is a great deal of effort that must still be undertaken. In this panel, we explore the critical importance of Indigenous voices in health and wellness movements nationally, asking: 1) What does it mean to be well, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? 2) What are the customs, practices, cultural traditions, and experiences that build meaning, strength, and a sense of purpose in our lives? 3) How can institutions better support the health and wellness needs of Indigenous children, youth, families, and communities across all stages of the lifespan?