UBC Theses and Dissertations
Story-gathering with the Urban Aboriginal Community Kitchen Garden Project Mundel, Erika
This research focuses on the work of the Urban Aboriginal Community Kitchen Garden Project (the Garden Project). The Garden Project aims to be a culturally appropriate health promotion project with urban Aboriginal people, drawing on traditional Indigenous approaches to health and healing, and rooted in community food work. The project is situated within the context of colonialism, the destruction of traditional foodways, and subsequent increased need for Indigenous people to rely on a dominant food system that is seen as destructive to human and ecological health. The purpose of my research is to describe the Garden Project’s main goals and achievements from the perspective of project leaders, project participants as well as through my own observations and experiences. The research methodology was guided by participatory and community based approaches to research and qualitative methods were employed, focusing primarily on semi-structured interviews with project participants and project leaders. I also participated in and observed the project for two years, from September 2006-September 2008. Data collection and analysis happened through an iterative process of action and reflection. Based on my time with the Garden Project, I suggest that it can be seen simultaneously as a community food security, health promotion, and Indigenous health project. It connects participants with food as a natural product, builds skills around cooking and growing food, and increases knowledge about food system issues. Drawing on the health promotion discourse, it can be seen building community and social support networks, treating the whole person, and empowering participants to take actions around their own health needs. It is rooted in Indigenous approaches to health and healing in the way it promotes individuals’ physical, mental/emotional and spiritual health, the health of the community through cultural revitalization, and the health of the Universe through the opportunity it provides for awareness about ecosystem health. This research project was very site specific. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that food work with urban Indigenous people, carried out in a culturally sensitive manner, may be a powerful leverage point for promoting health with this population. These types of projects can also be vehicles for social change.
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