Exploring Indigenous Connections, Gender and the City
“All my relations.” This is a phrase often heard among Indigenous people as an offering of gratitude and connection. Healthy interactions?human, environmental and spiritual?are foundational to Indigenous cultures and are the keys to wellness. Dr. Kim Anderson, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Relationships, is exploring how “all our relations” are developed and maintained in urban environments.
Anderson is building on decades-long work with Indigenous Friendship Centres in Canada to determine how women build community. Knowing that the position of men and masculinities is an underexplored area at the heart of Indigenous relationships, Anderson and her research team are also working with a growing network of Indigenous masculinities scholars to publish collective work, sponsor public dialogue, and set the stage for program and policy work for Indigenous men.
By creating and evaluating the impact of land-based learning spaces in the city of Guelph, Ontario, Anderson and her team aim to challenge the current narratives of urban Indigenous identities. These spaces allow students and communities to build relationships with foods, plant medicines, the land and each other. To provide comparative insight, Anderson and her team are also working with Indigenous land-based post-secondary educators in Ecuador.
Canada’s urban Indigenous populations grew by 60 per cent between 2006 and 2016. In addition, almost a third of the current population is under the age of 14, and more than half live in urban centres. Finding ways to develop the knowledge needed to chart pathways to wellness and reconciliation, and to support “all our relations” in urban Indigenous contexts, is critical to this young and growing population.