Indigenous Worldviews and Speech Therapy (Part 1 of 3)

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

This post was written with contributions from SLPs Michelle Dolmaya, Mikyla Grau, Janessa Tam, and Ibtissam Mustaq

For more than 40, 000 years, Canada has been home to Indigenous peoples, with an estimated population of 2 million prior to European contact. As members of a settler society, it's important that we recognize the rich history and the current presence of Indigenous peoples who were here before us and who continue to be caretakers of this land today.

Three groups of Aboriginal peoples recognized by the Constitution of Canada are Indian, Métis, and Inuit. Today in Canada, the term First Nations is generally preferred to the term Indian. There are more than 600 First Nations bands with their own unique cultures, and over 60 different languages indigenous to Canada.

"A Tribute to Aboriginal Women" by Leah Dorion, 2016

Importance of Land

Turtle Island refers to North America, and is recognized by some Indigenous peoples as part of the story of creation of life. There are many different variations, and it's important to remember that there is no singular "Indigenous culture", since each community has their own beliefs and practices. But what is common among most of these creation stories is that the land grew on the turtle's back and all the people of North America live on this same shared space.

Another common element among many Indigenous communities is a strong connection to the land. According to the Assembly of First Nations' Environmental Stewardship Unit, "Traditionally, First Nations’ use of the land recognized the impact on other species around us and we were respectful of the impact we imposed. We do not view people as the masters of the earth, but merely a part of the delicate balance of the earth’s cycle of life."