Self-Determination as a Health Indicator for Inuit by Nicola on 2013-02-13
Self-Determination as a Health Indicator for Inuit
Christopher Collrin (Representative of the David Lynch Foundation)
Mike Webster (Executive Director, SBHK)
Edited by Dr Nicola Davies
Self-determination is a theory of human motivation and personality, which is based on the assumption that we all have inherent tendencies towards personal growth. In other words, our behavior is self-motivated or self-determined, and aimed at helping us reach our true potential.
Improving Health and Enhancing Social Cohesion
In terms of health and well-being, self-determination is thought to improve health outcomes. In particular, communities that control their resources and services can develop programs designed specially to meet their needs. Not only does this reduce delivery gaps, but it also creates valuable support networks for vulnerable groups. Control over fiscal resources enables communities to plan enduring, well-integrated economic, social, and health programs that spawn lasting change. Furthermore, self-determination is a key factor in creating employment opportunities, which has a direct impact on mental and physical well-being through increased opportunities, socialization, and better finances. Importantly, people in self-determined communities are likely to have more meaningful lives and a stronger sense of social cohesion and dignity.
Photo courtesy of David Ho.
Progress towards Self-Determination
While the determinants of health require unique actions, as discussed in ‘Nunavut Health Indicators,’ a common need exists across all sectors for Inuit self-determination. It has long been understood by Inuit that they must fully participate in the planning and implementation of programs that affect them. Indeed, it is understood that self-determination is a vital component of addressing socioeconomic and health inequalities. Canadian Inuit have made progress towards self-determination, especially within the four Inuit regions where Comprehensive Land Claim Agreements (CLCAs) have been negotiated with the Canadian government. However, the signing of CLCAs is only a first step toward self-determination. It does not guarantee the fulfillment of the stated provisions. Indeed, there is a misconception that Inuit issues have been resolved as a result of land claim settlement. However, this remains far from the truth, with the Government of Canada continuing to hold primary responsibility and determination in the lives of Inuit.
Reaching a Breakthrough
This above dispute reflects the need for involving Inuit at senior levels of the federal government, where they can voice Inuit concerns and ensure Inuit priorities are addressed. In May 18, 2005, Inuit reached a breakthrough in their relations with the Government of Canada, when they signed a Partnership Accord and agreed to several critical principles, including that the demographic, socioeconomic, and geographic realities of Inuit will be carefully considered in the design of institutions and implementation of programs that may affect Inuit. The purpose of such measures is “to increase the understanding of Inuit rights, interests and aspirations in the various departments and agencies that make up the Government of Canada” and “to promote and support Inuit communities to become self-reliant, healthy, culturally vital and secure” (Andy Scott, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development).
Photo courtesy of David Ho.
So, how does the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, discussed in a previous article, relate to self-determination within these circumstances? The simple answer is that TM gives the individual the direct experience of the “Home of all the Laws of Nature,” the source of all cultures, at the transcendental level of one’s own consciousness. This experience opens one’s awareness to the infinite value of their own creativity and intelligence, resulting in the individual rising to the full expression of their own creative potential. Such a life, truly “self-determined,” is one lived in happiness, health, productivity and fulfillment.