Published on January 17, 2022
Rachel VanEvery, Amy Wright
What constitutes an Indigenous identity in Canada is complex, influenced by numerous socio-political factors and policies. Developing a positive Indigenous identity begins long before birth, continues throughout early childhood, and has been associated with long-lasting health benefits. This article describes how mothers experience the complexities of supporting the development of their infants’ Indigenous identities within an urban, off-reserve environment as it relates to their health and well-being.
Methods: Using interpretive description methodology and the Two-Eyed Seeing framework, this study integrates both Western and Indigenous ways of knowing. Interviews were undertaken with 19 Indigenous mothers, five primary care providers and seven providers of early child development services. Data analysis was collaborative between both authors.
Results: Results describe how pregnancy and parenting catalyse mothers’ involvement in the development of their infants’ Indigenous identities. Four themes were identified:
a) complexities of identifying as Indigenous;b) self-disclosing in mainstream health services;c) forced identifying through “flagging”; andd) Indigenous-led services promote health and identity.
Conclusions: Culturally safe health-care environments help mothers to feel secure in disclosing their Indigenous identities. Clinicians can then better support mothers by providing culturally safe care and linking families with Indigenous community resources for cultural knowledge and support alongside health promotion programming.
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