Traditional Healing Practices in an Urban Indigenous Setting: An Autoethnography


  • Natalie St-Denis University of Calgary
  • Christine Walsh University of Calgary


decolonization, social work, traditional healing practices, urban Indigenous peoples, autoethnography


A growing number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous social workers are actively working towards the decolonization of their practice. However, incorporating traditional healing practices within an urban Indigenous setting requires commitment and dedication to understanding these practices.  Relationships with Elders and access to traditional healing practices have been advanced as critical in this process.

Frameworks on how to do this work have been proposed, yet few have included stories of how these approaches are interwoven into daily practice in an urban Indigenous context. The goal of this autoethnography is to share experiences and reflections of frontline work and to further the dialogue to improve services for urban Indigenous peoples accessing social services. It is through the process of decolonization that social workers, not only fulfill their ethical professional obligations, but also contribute to reconciliation and the healing journey of Indigenous peoples.


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