Eyininiw mistatimwak: The role of the Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony for First Nations youth mental wellness

Angela Snowshoe, Noel V. Starblanket


First Nations youth across Canada face considerably higher risk to develop mental health issues compared to their non-First Nations counterparts. These disproportionate risks have arisen within the context of an extensive history of harmful treatment of First Nations peoples borne of political policies aimed at the destruction of First Nations cultures. Research has demonstrated the importance of culture for positive mental health outcomes among First Nations youth. Like other land-based initiatives, there has been growing interest regarding the importance of equine-assisted learning and therapy for First Nations youth mental wellness. However, there is limited scientific understanding of the mechanisms by which First Nations youth can heal with horses, and even less is known about how equine-assisted programs can be adapted for cultural relevance. The current paper addresses this gap in the literature by introducing the Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony as a potential key player in First Nations youths’ healing journeys. A culturally-responsive framework is offered that highlights the ways in which a mutual helping relationship can be built between First Nations youth and this critically endangered Indigenous horse.

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