Melq’ilwiye: Intersections of Identity, Culture, and Health Among Urban Aboriginal Youth
Research Start-up Summary and Abstract:
Melq’ilwiye is a Secwepemc word that means, “coming together.” This research will take place in the interior region of British Columbia through a community-university partnership between the Interior Indian Friendship Society and Thompson Rivers University, both of which are located on the traditional territories of the Secwepemc peoples in the city of Kamloops. The Interior Indian Friendship Society is part of a network of 119 Friendship Centres in Canada and is a member of the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC, n.d.). Friendship Centres are the primary providers of culturally enhanced programs and services to urban Aboriginal people. The urban Aboriginal youth population is the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian Aboriginal population (54% in 2006) (NAFC, n.d.), yet in Kamloops as in many cities there remains a temporal component to one’s location and identification as “urban Aboriginal,” varying according to the person’s life history and story.
This research proposal has been developed in ongoing dialogue between community and academic researchers. It has been informed by previous and ongoing research conducted by the applicants. The goals of this research study are two-fold: 1) to advance the understanding of how urban Aboriginal youth who identify as homeless or at risk of homelessness identify their health needs within an Indigenous intersectional model of health and wellness, and 2) to contribute to new understandings and knowledge of Indigenous urban youth and research capacity among urban Aboriginal youth and urban Aboriginal health-care providers. A key focus will be the development of strategies for addressing the aspirations of urban Aboriginal youth, laying the foundations upon which their health and wellness potential can be nurtured, supported, and realized. The project will address the goal identified by NAFC, for more effective ways to promote health among urban Aboriginal youth. It will also address the recommendation of the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples (2003) with respect to promoting “urban First Nations health research initiatives that could provide valuable information on the needs, experiences and priorities of First Nations youth living in urban centers under a First Nations controlled design”.