Traditional approaches to healing are holistic and consider mind, body and spirit. Medicine is distinguished from healing, which goes beyond mere treatment of sickness.

Traditional Healing embodies the use of native plants, as well as, is a whole philosophy and spiritual practice surrounding health and well-being. Our ancestors had good health and a deep and abiding understanding of the land, animals, plants and human wellbeing. The knowledge acquired over more than ten thousand years of familiarity with the land allowed First Nations to develop healing that we now refer to as Traditional Healing.

The healing relationship is based on a series of virtues: respect; humility; compassion; honesty; truth, sharing, hospitality and divine love. Traditional Aboriginal care recognizes many more routes to healing than does Western medicine. Seven routes are commonly mentioned: Talking, Crying, Laughing, Dancing, Sweating, Yawning, and Yelling (giving vent to your feelings, not yelling at someone!)

Much traditional healing centers around group ceremonies, including prayers, the sharing of a meal, the use of traditional medicines and practices such as sweat lodges. Healing also involves feeling part of a shared culture, of being outdoors and in connection with the land and with nature. The Cree of James Bay, for example, emphasize the interconnections of people and animals; hunters feel respect and love for the animals; a feast is a communal way to express this respect.

The traditional lifestyle naturally encourages healthy eating and exercise. This has led to the idea of land-based healing programs that seek to put people back in touch with nature.

West Coast Traditional Plants - First Nations Traditional Medicine Diet. By Georgina Hnatiuk First Nation Healer) 

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