Medicine and Health Care

Sports and Nutrition

Physical activity has traditionally been an inherent part of many Indigenous communities due to following migratory routes, dealing with extreme climates, and having to forage for food in various natural environments. Moreover, sports were and continue to be a key method of community building. Hockey, in particular, plays a big role in the lives of many First Peoples in Canada. As Michael Robidoux argues, hockey tournaments not only draw Indigenous communities and nations together, they also provide material for more contemporary and locally relevant orature.

Before colonization, First Peoples diet was dependent on locally available food sources. The approach to diet then was holistic, meaning, also, that foods consumed always had a cultural significance. Now, of course, diet and nutrition has been impacted by the introduction of European-based food as well as the overall industrialization of the food industry. The impact on Indigenous populations has been a massive shift in nutrition levels and the rise of obesity-related disease. Another issue facing Indigenous peoples is poverty leading to food shortages, as well as the impact of pollution leading to dangerous chemicals in food and water supplies. Nonetheless, there are many steps being taken to reclaim traditional nutritional practices and their connected cultural significance.

  1. The Dieticians of Canada's website provides a number of useful links to resources on Indigenous food practices.

  2. A McGill-based project that looks at nutritional needs in Indigenous communities. This link leads to videos that share the experience of 12 Indigenous communities dealing with nutrition-related issues.

  3. A paper by an Indigenous student in BC on the various sports/games played by her nation.

  4. A wonderful resource for an analysis of the role hockey plays in First Peoples communities. The author is a professor at University of Ottawa and can be contacted for further information.

  5. This CBC show discusses the past and present role of lacrosse in some indigenous cultures, from its power to heal, its role in assimilation, and contemporary gender issues.

  6. A tribute to some of the great past and present Indigenous Olympians.

  7. An article discussing the connection between Reconciliation and the 2017 Indigenous Games.

Hockey has a major role in many First Peoples communities. Tournaments bring various communities together and become material for contemporary storytelling