UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Hey, where can I go for help?" : Aboriginal people and "good medicine" at an urban Aboriginal health agency Wilson, Margaret


This dissertation examines the perspectives and experiences of urban Aboriginal people who utilize cultural, social and health services and staff who work at an urban Aboriginal agency located in Surrey, British Columbia (BC). Availability, accessibility, and acceptability of health services from the perspectives of urban Aboriginal people are emphasized to inform future policy and services offered to urban Aboriginal people by the BC provincial health care system. Archibald’s (2008) seven Indigenous Storywork principles of respect, responsibility, reciprocity, reverence, holism, inter-relatedness, and synergy form the foundation of the Indigenous methodology for this study. Kirkness and Barnhardt’s (1991) principle of relevance is added to the methodology. The traditional story and metaphor of Hamumu, (Butterfly) from my family in Kwakiutl territory, Kalugwis/Turnour Island also guides methodological and theoretical aspects of this thesis. Hamumu highlights transformation and the metamorphosis of urban Aboriginal people’s lives, including mine, through wholistic health services that address physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. The development of a Hamumu Theoretical Framework for this research is an outcome of a critical examination of colonial impacts upon urban Aboriginal people and the start of a self-determining conceptual health framework based on local Indigenous knowledge. Three sources of knowledge which shape the development of an Indigenous Good Medicine Theory include: (1) my personal story; (2) perspectives and health-related stories of 14 urban Aboriginal people; and (3) health and policy literature. The Indigenous Good Medicine Theory includes approaches that focus on culture, comfort, collaboration, and communication.

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