An Indigenist Perspective on the health/wellbeing and masculinities of Mi'kmaq men Tet-Pagi-Tel-Sit: Perceiving himself to be a strong balanced spiritual man
Getty, Gracie A.M.
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Introduction: The lifespan of Mi’kmaq First Nations men continues to be eight years less than that of other Canadian men. Therefore, this study examined the intersecting relationships between the social determinants of gender, health practices and other factors on the health of Mi’kmaq boys and men living in Elsipogtog First Nation. Goal: To promote the health of Mi’kmaq men living in Elsipogtog First Nation and to decrease the health disparities among Mi’kmaq men and other Canadian men. Objectives: (a) To explore how Mi’kmaq men construct their masculinities across the lifespan within Mi’kmaq culture; (b) To examine Mi’kmaq men’s perceptions of health and health practices and how their practices of masculinity influence these practices; (c) To explore how the experiences of illness and health influence Mi’kmaq men’s perceptions of their masculinity and the configuration of its practices; (d) To contribute to the scholarship of masculinities, health, culture, race, and inequity; (f) To build research capacity among members of the community of Elsipogtog; and (e) To identify strategies or programs that will support the health of Mi’kmaq men and their ability to care for their own health. Method: A community based participatory action research study based on an Indigenist critical social theoretical approach was used to gather and analyze the data. A research team of four Mi’kmaq people worked with me to analyze the data from an Indigenous perspective. A community advisory committee advised the research team regarding recruitment issues and the findings of the study. Thirty Mi’kmaq men and seven women were interviewed. Findings: The masculinities practices of Mi’kmaq men were: (a) respecting women, (b) fathering their children, (c) providing for their families, (d) caring for the environment, (e) respecting self and others, and (f) respecting sexually diverse family friends and self. During their lifetimes, many participants dealt with multiple losses, addiction, racism, sexual abuse, suicide attempts, and poverty. Their masculinity practices, culture, and spiritual health practices served as resiliency factors that contributed to their health status and practices Conclusions: The masculinity practices of Mi’kmaq men were strengths in their health.