Strengthening Âhkamêyimo among Indigenous youth: The social determinants of health, justice, and resilience in Canada’s north

Osemis Isbister-Bear, Andrew R. Hatala, Erynne Sjoblom


The wellbeing of Indigenous youth living in Canada’s northern communities continues to lag behind the rest of the Canadian population. To a large extent, these health inequities are perpetuated by processes of colonisation that significantly impact the social determinants of health in Canada’s Indigenous north. The purpose of this article is to review the history of colonisation and its impacts on the wellbeing of Indigenous youth in Canada’s north, as well as processes of resilience that have helped Indigenous youth live healthy lives despite social challenges. Academic articles published between 2000 and 2016 outlining resilience from Indigenous perspectives are reviewed in the contexts of Canada’s Indigenous north. Analysis focuses on what insights about resilience emerge from Indigenous communities, particularly as they related to the health inequities of circumpolar regions. The concept of Âhkamêyimo is discussed and how systems of Indigenous knowledge offer important insights into resilience in general, and can be utilised in health promotion, education, and prevention programs targeting Indigenous youth in northern Canada. We conclude that attention should be turned toward issues of social justice and health equity that are desperately needed in order to create healthy environments whereby Indigenous youth within northern Canadian communities can be assisted to flourish.


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