Income, education and employment play a big role in how healthy we are – people who have completed high school or college, have stable and safe employment, live in safe homes and neighbourhoods, and can afford to take part in cultural, sport and recreational opportunities tend to be healthier throughout their lives, and live longer.
In Yukon, the legacy of Indian residential schools and past government practices continues to influence the health of Yukon First Nations people. The settlement of land claims and self-government agreements in the Yukon, the national Indian Residential School Settlement, and the preservation of culture and language, lay the foundation for a healthier future for Yukon First Nations people, and by extension all Yukoners.
Yukon First Nations people have lived for many centuries on this land we share today. As a people, they faced colonization, loss of land and culture, and residential schools, and their health has suffered as a result.
Through it all, First Nations have shown great resilience. They have retained many values and traditions which can inspire and benefit all of us – living close to and in harmony with nature, the importance of family, and the ethic of sharing, to name a few.
Self-determination is an important influence on the health of First Nation people. The level of self-determination is directly linked to the degree of hope felt by individuals and communities. Research has shown the positive and protective influence of self-government on First Nation communities and individuals.
Policies that guide economic development, land use planning, agriculture, and protection of the environment influence the sustainability and vitality of Yukon communities. Community infrastructure, support for municipalities, and affordable housing influence the resources and opportunities available to Yukoners to protect and improve their health. The range of educational opportunities and the financial support for students entering trade schools, colleges and universities build a healthy, prosperous Yukon for all.
All of these are examples of broad societal factors that create options and opportunities for individuals, families and communities to support health and wellness.