Healing and Decolonizing Participatory Research: Anishnaabe Symbol-Based Reflection

Published: 2022-03-14
Healing and Decolonizing Participatory Research: Anishnaabe Symbol-Based Reflection
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Culture Research
Pages: 2
Wordcount: 481 words
5 min read

Anishnaabe Symbol-Based Reflection is a research method that was developed by Dr. Lynn Lavallee. This method allows participants to also be actors in the research process; this is because it incorporates photo voice where participants are given cameras to capture their lived experiences. It is a spiritual process in that the actors make a symbol such as a painting, dream catcher, drawing or beading thus allows the participants to reflect on a topic extraordinarily.

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This method of research brings many benefits the participants in that it gives them an in-depth understanding of a specific topic in ways that are unique to the individual. It connects indigenous cultural protocol and spiritual experience. The sharing at the end of the process allows the participants to express to each other the meaning of the symbol and listen to others stories (Lavallee, 202). Thriving is dependent on self-expression in whatever form it may take; this includes ways such as painting, weaving, beading or even singing. Historical trauma has made of the indigenous people abandon their traditional beliefs and values. The maintenance of these values is critical to good health; although they might vary across different cultures, they share common similarities. Through sharing these values in groups, they give participants balance within themselves, among other living things and mother earth, thus giving them harmony and a sense of belonging.

The making of symbols and the art incorporated is often very spiritual and unique to each person; the participants consider these symbols of spiritual significance. The symbols they made ensured that they brought the physical dimension of their lives into a healthy balance; they also influence other aspects of their lives positively (Simonds & Christopher, 2013). The making of the symbols in circles ensured that each participant incorporated their personal experiences and ideas in the art, the individuals feel that they are not alone in the journey thus assist each other in personal transformation as a group that shares common beliefs.

This method of research counters the western way of knowledge production that privileges the mainstream voices while giving no value to those from marginalized groups. This form of analysis helps researchers to gain first-hand research findings that are not typically available to broad audiences. The research findings lack bias, and they are genuine, they can be disseminated to publications and academic audiences for other researchers. This is a form of appreciation focused inquiry since it ensures that findings are published in community reports, everyday language and open journals that are available free and online. The participants are the one allowed to present their party hence they are in a position to give first-hand results that lacks bias and appreciates a culture that few understand.


Lavallee, L. (202). Physical Activity and Healing through the Medicine Wheel. 130-135.

Simonds, V. W., & Christopher, S. (2013). Adapting Western Research Methods to Indigenous Ways of Knowing. Am J Public Health, 21-85-2192.

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Healing and Decolonizing Participatory Research: Anishnaabe Symbol-Based Reflection. (2022, Mar 14). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/healing-and-decolonizing-participatory-research-anishnaabe-symbol-based-reflection

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