Back to Search Results

Amxsame’ su sa ‘Nawalakw (the supernatural spirit wraps around us): impacts of Kwakwaka’wakw regalia making on identity, wellness and belonging in ‘Yalis, British Columbia

Helen Brown, Trevor Isaac, Kelsey Timler, Elder Vera Newman, Andrea Cranmer, Donna Cranmer

2021 Canada

In this article, we share findings from a community-based Participatory Action Research project, titled Sanala, which means to be whole in Kwak’wala—the language of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwak̓wala-speaking people; a First Nation from what is now called Canada). In response to community priorities, the Sanala team initiated regalia as a weekly programme where people from the ‘Namgis tribe and other surrounding Kwakwaka’wakw Nations on the northwest coast of British Columbia, Canada, come together to create regalia. Participants learn about family crests, design and sew button blankets and dance aprons, and learn oral histories belonging to individuals and families, all within the context of Kwak’wala language revitalization and regalia making. We outline the impacts of this programme on identity, belonging, wholistic health and collective wellbeing, as well as implications for Participatory Action Research and community-led research aimed at strengthening individual and collective health and wellness through Indigenous languages and cultural continuity.

button blankets, Indigenous health, Kwakwaka’wakw, language reclamation, language revitalization, regalia