Running Head: ABORIGINAL PEOPLES, WATER AND HEALTH & WELL-BEING
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When water is looked at in the context of health, it is generally in terms of access to safe drinking water (Health Canada, 2002). When considering the health of Aboriginal peoples however, it is necessary to look at water in a broader context because water plays a vital role in many traditional activities and for many it is also seen as part of the spiritual world (Bartlett, 1988; Droitsch, 2009). Currently, there is very limited research that has explored the relationship between water and the health of Aboriginal peoples, however there are many studies which emphasize the impacts of environmental change on the health of Inuit and First Nations. These studies have found that environmental change such as global warming, contamination and pollution can negatively affect physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. The purpose of this study was to explore how Aboriginal peoples' perspectives on water contributes to overall health and well-being. Data was collected through four semi-structured telephone interviews with people who were over 18 years of age and self-identified as Aboriginal. The overall themes that emerged from the data include: water as being important for a connection to Mother Earth, identity, health and healing and reconnecting to culture. This study explored how water contributes to the health of Aboriginal peoples in a broader sense than just physical health. The findings suggest that water needs to be protected in order to protect and promote the health of Aboriginal peoples and Mother Earth.