Indigenous Knowledge Development Centres with a focus on Wellness

In Canada, most health research is focused on a disease or deficit end-point, whether designing, testing or implementing interventions, treatments or preventive measures. The focus of this Indigenous knowledge development project is on wellness – promoting, maintaining and re-gaining wellness, by itself, or in the context of a variety of conditions or life circumstances that First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples may find themselves. There is much Indigenous health and wellness knowledge/wisdom that has yet to be re-awakened, and in fact, cannot be well-supported in our current colonized structures and conceptualizations. To do so will take the development and re-development of roles and processes within community. It is within this context that we see Indigenous community as being the primary research leader, with the academy and the health system as being knowledge users.

Miyo-pimâtisiwin is a network of Indigenous health knowledge development centres. These centres are grounded in the land and in culture, with land-based Indigenous research methodologies a critical component of the network. Using a health determinants approach and working with communities of Indigenous people including Elders, Knowledge Holders, youth, researchers and health workers, we explore what makes Indigenous people well, what keeps them well, and how Indigenous wellness can be achieved or re-gained and maintained through practices and interventions based on traditional and western knowledge. Through meaningful engagement between academic centres and Indigenous communities, our network of knowledge development centres will increase and build on our understanding of wellness.

Research began in the Norther Village of Île-à-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan, in December 2019. Research was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic but progress has been made.

In the words of the Elder: “Let’s research ourselves back to life.”

The idea for the project was to be community-led, with the vision, idea and research strategies coming from the community. They lead the researchers, rather than the other way around.

The project also intertwines with food sovereignty, such as an Elder-led greenhouse garden project, which allows produce to be sold while connecting participants with the community and land.

An upcoming aspect of the research will involve community mapping, connecting with organizations in the community and finding out if there are any gaps which can be addressed with help from the team of researchers.

Other communities involved in Miyo-pimâtisiwin are Onion Lake Cree Nation, which is doing community-led language preservation work, and Grandmother’s Bay, one of the reserves that comprises Lac La Ronge Indian Band, which is focused on cultural preservation.

For more information, contact:

Alex Smith –

Recent News on Miyo-pimâtisiwin Project


Most of our team lives and works on Treaty 6 territory and the Homeland of the Métis. The original peoples of these lands are the Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, and Métis. Others are based in Vancouver, on the unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. We encourage everyone, wherever they are, to learn about the Indigenous people of the lands on which they live and work. We seek to become engaged allies together. In the spirit of truth and reconciliation, we respect the self-determination of First Nations, Métis and Inuit – in their cultures, languages and their pursuit of wellness.

© 2023 Pewaseskwan (the Indigenous Wellness Research Group) | Office of the Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellness, University of Saskatchewan.