Thursday, July 22, 2004
This presentation is part of : Marginalization and People's Health
Spirit Winds: A Narrative Inquiry Into the Aboriginal Stories of Diabetes
Sylvia S. Barton, MSc, RN, Nursing Program, Nursing Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, BC, Canada
Learning Objective #1: Understand the meaning of experience within a storied landscape of Aboriginal people's life narratives, diabetes, and chronic illness narratives, and creative responses and adjustments in these experiences
Learning Objective #2: Describe significance of new knowledge generated through stories that Aboriginal people might want to construct about themselves as they live with a chronic illness in Canadian society

Aim: A form of narrative inquiry was conducted to explore Aboriginal peoples' experience of living with diabetes in British Columbia, Canada. Method: This relational methodology guided the research, and prolonged dialogue and conversation were used to retrieve a storied view of experience. I co-participated with three women and one man of Aboriginal ancestry to elicit their life stories and to explore the experiences that are informing their 'diabetic self' stories. Analysis: The analysis of data occurred through an interpretive process of moving back and forth between different types of research texts shaped by questions of meaning and social significance. A synthesis of our life stories, and their experiences of diabetes evolved into a co-constructed narrative about diabetes. By positioning field texts within spaces of interaction, continuity, and situation, further interpretive-analytical considerations contributed to the epistemological status of the texts. Relevant theory and literature used to frame the research findings, such as Aboriginal traditional knowledge, critical theory, post-colonial studies, indigenous writings, as well as empirical and lay literature on the Aboriginal experience of diabetes positioned the work further. Findings: A discussion of three sets of analytical considerations for understanding experience will elucidate how I captured personal and human elements, as well as cultural and health dimensions that deepen an understanding of the diabetes experience. Also discussed is how the inquiry represents a synthesis of my own and four participants' life stories, and their experiences of diabetes, which include identity and relational processes. Thus the ways in which the notion of self in transformation deepens our thinking of humanity as webs of significance that we ourselves spin, and the influence of colonialism on Aboriginal health broadens our thinking of humanity as webs of significance that we ourselves are learning to spin differently, are explicated.


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Sigma Theta Tau International
July 22-24, 2004