UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Digital Wellness Project for young Indigenous men : Indigenous masculinity, identity, and mental health and wellness King, Liam


Currently, little is known about how digital media influences the identity, mental health, and wellness of young Indigenous men in Canada. Given that media has historically misrepresented Indigenous men and masculinities through a colonial mindset reinforcing racialization of Indigenous Peoples as primitive savages, it is important to understand the role digital media plays in the identity construction process of young Indigenous men in Canada. For this project, we partnered with the Aboriginal Programs and Services Centre at UBC Okanagan in a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to work with undergraduate students (aged 18 – 30 years old) at UBC Okanagan who identify with the lived experiences of being an Indigenous man. This Digital Wellness group was conducted in a research sharing-circle and was guided by Indigenous Storywork Principles. Data was collected via audio recording and transcription and analyzed using Indigenous Storywork Principles through a Critical Indigenous Gender Lens. Results indicated motivations for young Indigenous men’s digital media use, such as connecting with friends, cultural revitalization, work-/school-related purposes, entertainment, and for taking a break, where they indicated digital media play a significant role in their daily lives. Group members stated both positive and negative effects of using digital media where they felt digital media provided an avenue through which they could explore their Indigenous identities which can positively influence their mental health and wellness, but also felt violence towards Indigenous Peoples and misrepresentations of Indigenous People on digital media had negative impacts of their identities, mental health, and wellness. Further, group members discussed perspective changes within themselves in relation to their digital media use and how they felt engaging in this Digital Wellness group positively impacted their own mental health and wellness, indicating how digital media can be used to connect young Indigenous men with one another to discuss topics of Indigenous identity, gender, and mental health and wellness and bring about positive identity transformations through meaning-making processes. In conclusion, this project demonstrated the importance of engaging young Indigenous men in participatory approaches to better understand how digital media influences the identity, mental health, and wellness of young Indigenous men.

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