This study describes some of the many health benefits and positive outcomes that can come from spending more time out on the land, especially in supporting youth resilience and wellness in response to high rates of suicide in Canada’s north. This research found that Land-based practice is a highly effective way of supporting Indigenous youth and adults’ reconnection with the Land, their identity and culture in a rapidly changing world.

The term Land-based is being used across the north to describe an Indigenous understanding of the world, and the inseparability of land and water from our health and wellbeing. It is a key concept for understanding First Nations, Métis and Inuit views on mental wellness, which can’t be separated from emotional, physical and spiritual health or the land itself. Land-based understandings recognize that being on the land itself heals. This traditional knowledge (TK) is further supported by current biomedical research documenting in detail the many health and healing benefits of spending time in the outdoors including improved cognition, memory and mood.

This study recommends that any health intervention developed within northern Canada should consider this land-based relationship in its design. This is an important move towards reconciliation in northern Canada, based on a recent history of forced relocation from life on the land and its related health challenges. Providing opportunities for First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth and adults to access the land in a meaningful way, can help support Indigenous and western education, mental health and wellbeing, and environmental outcomes in our shared communities.

See results here: Land Based Research Summary