Bringing it back: the meaning of tobacco to Manitoba’s Metis peoples

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Mutch, Bonnie Lea
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Tobacco has a long-standing history within Aboriginal culture, with many Aboriginal people believing that tobacco is sacred. For First Nations people, tobacco is deeply connected with ceremonial, spiritual and cultural aspects of First Nations beliefs, and holds a historical place as a traditional substance for First Nations people. At the same time tobacco misuse among other Aboriginal groups, including the Metis, is significantly higher than in the general population. While it is recognized that the relationship First Nations peoples have with tobacco is sacred, it is unknown whether Metis people share this cultural perspective of tobacco and whether this perspective may influence misuse. Accordingly, an interpretive descriptive was conducted to provide insight into the meaning of tobacco and tobacco control from the unique perspective of Metis people living in Manitoba. Through the use of a framework for Aboriginal-guided decolonizing research that is in keeping with oral tradition, this study explored the perspectives of seven Metis adults living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to examine the role that tobacco has in the lives of Metis peoples. Ages of participants ranged from 35 to 62 years. Two of the participants were male and five were female. Annual incomes ranged from $20,000.00 to $40,000.00 for five of the participants to $40,000.00 to $60,000.00 for two of the participants. Six of the participants currently misuse tobacco, and all except one of the participants also use tobacco for traditional purposes. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the data. Eight themes ultimately emerged from the data and have been identified as: (1) between two worlds; (2) memories in smoke; (3) first times; (4) to quit or not to quit; (5) where are we now?; (6) the role of tobacco in the lives of Metis peoples; (7) sacred ground: using tobacco traditionally; and (8) who is in control?: feelings about tobacco control policy in Canada. These findings provide some insight into the beliefs and values that Metis people may have towards tobacco use and misuse, and the role that tobacco plays in the lives of these Metis participants. Based on the findings presented, recommendations for future research, nursing practice, and policy and programming development are made.
Tobacco, Metis