Improving our Mental Health through 'Culture'

indigenous art and culture… the Story Posts Project

Imagine not having a common language or culture that you share with your family and friends.

How would you be able to identify and belong to that group?

What would your self-worth and sense of pride look like?

Culture is a system of belief, values, customs and traditions that are transmitted from generation to generation through teachings, ecological knowledge and time-honoured land-based practices. (McIvor, 2009) Culture takes many forms like ceremonies, spiritual journeying, and art forms.

Culture is known to be a protective factor for positive mental health because it builds resiliency and balances out negative factors (Wynoming, 2008). So it would make sense that we would want to encourage and embrace our culture so we could maintain and improve our mental health.

One cultural area that has shown positive effects on the health and wellness of Indigenous people is traditional activities (McIvor, 2009). Traditional activities can be defined as: traditional ways of doing things such as hunting, fishing, trapping, storytelling, traditional dancing, fiddle playing, jigging, arts and crafts and pow-wows (McIvor, 2009). Traditional activities vary and continue to evolve as contemporary influences alter them.

Story Posts Project

One example of this cultural evolution can be demonstrated by the Story Posts Project. The Story Posts Project began two years ago through the Red Road Lodge, a charitable organization that uses arts and culture as a cost-effective, positive life style activity that helps residents reconnect with their past. This project takes Indigenous art that represent lived experience and personal stories of colonialism, residential school, sixties scoop and traditional culture and reproduces them digitally to create Story Posts – a travelling display to inform and educate people as part of the Truth and Reconciliation process.

Traditional artistic expressions were historically considered important forms of healing and continue to have healing benefits today (McIvor, 2009). Sharing the artwork and stories allows the public to learn about the artist and the meaning behind their creations.  Utilizing culture can have protective factors in the mental wellbeing of individuals and communities.

If your community would be interested in having this display, please contact your Healthy Living Facilitator, your local Public Health-Healthy Living office or 1-800-742-6509 for more information.


  • McIvor, Onowa. (2009).Language and Culture as Protective Factors for At-Risk Communities. Journal of Aboriginal Health, Nov. 2009.
  • University of Wyoming (2008).