“We stopped sharing when we became civilized”: A Model of Colonialism as a Determinant of Indigenous Health in Canada

  • Darell Manitowabi Laurentian University
  • Marion Maar Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Keywords: Indigenous, Determinants of health, Colonialism, Canada


In the post-World War II era, attention to the poorer health outcomes of Indigenous peoples led to a gradual shift in the discourse surrounding Indigenous-State relations in Canada. By the 1980s, the federal government devolved policies involving First Nations, resulting in First Nations control of the local delivery of federal and provincial government programs and services such as social welfare and capital for improved infrastructure and economic development. We conducted qualitative research examining the perceived impact of increased local control and access to social and economic investments on mino-bimaadiziwin (“good health”) in five Ojibwa/Anishinabe First Nations in northeastern Ontario, Canada. Results suggest these interventions have reduced community solidarity, led to higher unemployment, poorer health and a reliance on materialism, technology, and social programs. There are community divisions between those who have benefited and those who have not. Indigenous communities frame past life ways as a guide to improved mino-bimaadiziwin.


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