Promoting traditions: an evaluation of a wilderness activity among First Nations of Canada

Australas Psychiatry. 2009 Aug;17 Suppl 1:S108-11. doi: 10.1080/10398560902948605.


Objectives: Several native American communities face serious social problems brought about by the loss of culture. Many First-Nation communities organize traditional activities in a wilderness setting to promote culture and prevent social problems, among them suicide. The activities evaluated in this study were organized by the Atikamek community of Manawan (Quebec, Canada) for adolescents aged between 14 and 17 years. The main goals of these activities were to increase self-esteem, re-establish cultural continuity, encourage pro-social behaviours among the participants and ultimately empower and mobilize the community.

Methods: Within the context of an honours thesis project, this research assessed the process and the effects of these traditional activities on a group of First-Nation youth. The evaluation used a mixed methodology consisting of two self-esteem scales and participatory observation. The results of this evaluative study show that this type of traditional activity is an innovative tool to increase cultural pride, foster pro-social behaviour and empower First-Nation youth.

Conclusions: Obstacles met during the course of this research project highlight the importance of developing methodologies able to capture the rich and specific outcomes of traditional activities in an Aboriginal context.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Canada
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / psychology*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Psychometrics
  • Quebec
  • Self Concept
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Problems
  • Suicide