The purpose of this study was to explore nehiyaw iskwêwak (Cree women’s) perceptions and beliefs about how to restore balance to health. Fifteen indigenous women from Northern Alberta, Canada, participated in a 3-day cultural retreat on beauty and art in British Columbia, Canada, in May 2015. At the end of the retreat, these women were invited to participate in a talking circle and asked, ‘What does restoring balance look like?’ A constructivist grounded theory approach was used to explore individual and collective perspectives on restoring health. Nehiyaw iskwêwak provided a vision of health using metaphors from the natural environment. Starting points and core characteristics of health were grounded in relationship with self, others, place and the land, suggesting interventions grounded in land-based pedagogy and focused on restoring relationship and secure attachment might be effective for this population. Nehiyaw iskwêwak also said interventions should start at the individual level; as the individual restores balance mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, a long-term ripple effect can be initiated through the generations and community when these women in turn support the strengthening and nurturing of relations (e.g. parents, siblings, friends, children, grandchildren) for the next seven generations.

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