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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Traditional knowledge for health MacPherson, Nancy Elizabeth


The objective of this research is strengthening Nłeʔkepmx Traditional Food Relationships (NTFR) for community health, education and self-sufficiency and ultimately self-determination of Siska community members. Upholding the interconnected Nłeʔkepmx worldview, the research became known as “Traditional Knowledge for Health”. Research took place at Siska within the Nłeʔkepmx Nation Territory. Siska Traditions Society led this research in partnership with University of British Columbia- Faculty of Land and Food Systems. This partnership made explicit respectful research processes in the Siska-UBC Traditional Knowledge Protocol (TKP), an ethical research agreement. The principles of the agreement were enacted through community-directed Indigenous action research processes. This strength-based approach led to achieving self-determined control and application of Nłeʔkepmx knowledge systems through two main research activities: 1) The Siska Traditions Ethical Picking Practices- Harvest Training and Certification Program (STEPP) set a precedent for self-determined Indigenous education and policy creation for Nłeʔkepmx traditional food relationships (NTFR). The STEPP training resulted in hands-on culturally relevant traditional food workshops. Community members unanimously agreed the workshops are an effective way to pass on NTFR knowledge, practices and values. Following the training, participants increased their traditional food use and time spent on the land base. STEPP participants demonstrated their role as NTFR stewards and managers. The Siska community policy creation process provided clear direction for jurisdiction and management of NTFR. Indigenous title and jurisdiction will guide NTFR management. 2) The Youth-Elder Traditional Food Interviews reinstated the honourable roles of Nłeʔkepmx Elders as educators and youth as self-determined leaders of tomorrow. The Youth-Elder Interviews arose from Elders’ recommendation that technology may be part of the solution to getting youth to engage actively and passionately with the traditional teachings about food and health. The interviews resulted in the youth-directed documentary, “Traditional Foods of the Nłeʔkepmx Territory”. In this documentary, Elders’ share stories about Nłeʔkepmx traditional food relationships’ interconnectedness with: spiritual, cultural, educational practices; overall community health and strength; as well as impacts of colonization and ecological degradation. Overall this research has led to sustained community actions to strength Nłeʔkepmx traditional food relationships and ultimately contributes to Nłeʔkepmx Peoples’ self-determination.

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