Using digital technology to improve Indigenous well-being
Indigenous peoples in Canada face continued suffering as a result of colonialism. Among the many consequences of this is the erosion of intergenerational closeness, particularly between the youngest and oldest members of society.
Chelsea Gabel, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Well-Being, Community Engagement and Innovation, is studying these relationships. Her work shows that Indigenous community members are aware of the weakening of elder-youth relationships, and that there is both a need and a desire to restore them.
Some Indigenous communities are turning to technology to help improve their conditions. Digital technology can boost community capacity, affirm Indigenous identity, and disseminate culturally relevant information. It can also be used to enable intergenerational engagement: empowering elders who want important information to be available to youth, and empowering young people as agents in the preservation of unique Indigenous knowledge.
Gabel is exploring the theoretical and practical impacts of technology deployment in an Indigenous context. She and her team will engage elders and youth in discussions about healthy living, Indigenous knowledge, and preserving community connections. This research recognizes that the well-being of these two groups is closely linked, and that reimagining digital technologies as creatively engaging tools for healing and empowerment can bring elders and youth together to address the challenges they face.
Addressing these issues will lead to the development of elder/youth initiatives and policies that will improve the quality of life in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across generations.