Brave spaces: Indigenous children in Canada plan for a different tomorrow

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2022 Jun 1;47(6):659-670. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2021-0470. Epub 2022 Mar 10.


When considering the impacts of historical trauma and colonization on the lived realities of Indigenous young people within Canada, it is essential that research uses strength-based, capacity-building approaches to ensure that the voices are heard and that their perspectives and advice can be actioned. A series of participatory workshops with adults and children were conducted within urban geographies to explore health-seeking behaviours, health knowledge, and community resiliency. Research took place in Manitoba, Canada (2015-2016, n = 36 girls and 24 adults) with First Nations and Métis community members and British Columbia, Canada (2017, n = 11 children and 15 adults) with Métis community members. Children participated in community transect walks, photo elicitation activities, discussion circles (with adult participant contribution), and projected community mapping exercises where they drew their ideal, imagined community. Community consensus processes were used for member checking as well as initial evaluation of research findings, including the establishment of key themes. Field notes, discussion transcripts, and images were analyzed for similarities and differences between ages, genders, cultural identifiers, and geographies. A key finding was the need for safe spaces that can also be brave spaces, or moments when the community can be free to push for change without reprimand. Children were particularly concerned with sustainable, appropriate housing, safe methods of transportation, access to green spaces, and environmental stewardship within their day-to-day lives. Novelty: Brave spaces are essential for achieving/maintaining wellness within Indigenous communities. This article responds to a need to shift to a determinants of life focus.

Keywords: community resilience; determinants of health; déterminants de la santé; espace sécuritaire; historical trauma; intergenerational; intergénérationnel; pediatrics; pédiatrie; résilience communautaire; safe space; traumatisme historique.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • British Columbia
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manitoba