At the Waniska Centre, we believe that gender re-awakening and healing are essential for the health and wellness of an individual and their community. Gender is a concept for determining roles, processes and structures in a community or society.
Gender is a fluid construct that is affected over time by social, cultural and environmental factors, resulting in gender norms. Gender also encompasses the way that differences in people, whether they be real or perceived, have been used and relied upon to classify and assign roles and expectations to people and groups.
Men, women and Two-Spirit people all have their own lives and experiences and are operating within complex sets of different social and cultural expectations. As a result, gender and other identity factors can act as a barrier or an enabler to health initiative outcomes and conclusions because of the way the health system may interpret fact and opinion in health care.
Indigenous world views, health and wellness have been impacted by gender and colonialism. Western colonial ideas of gender roles were wrongly applied to Indigenous people and communities so Indigenous people in North America and other places touched by colonialism have been significantly impacted in terms of culture, identity, spirituality and ways of being conflicting with European-centric Christian views.
Women who were leaders or warriors were targeted, as were 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals and their own experience as leaders and guides in Indigenous society. Men were forced out of hunting and into roles such as gardening and leading the household, traditionally roles filled by women. The colonization of gender results in violence and discrimination directed at Indigenous women and LGBTQ2S+ individuals while harming men’s psyches at the same time. The imbalance in gender disrupted the way spiritual and health beliefs that led to wellness and instead contributed to inequity with substance use, HIV, HCV and other STBBIs seen today.
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