A Remedy For Wellness | alive

Wellness is a growing phenomenon that pushes people to make choices for healthy and fulfilling lives. As more people practice wellness, it is important to consider how privilege determines its accessibility.

By looking at the social determinants of health, food security and the medical system, the relationship between privilege and wellbeing becomes clear. However, there are things that can be done to bring about lasting systemic change.

What determines a person’s health?

The Canadian Public Health Association includes the following social determinants of health:

  • income
  • education
  • unemployment
  • Employment and working conditions
  • early childhood development
  • Food insecurity
  • casing
  • social exclusion
  • social safety network
  • Health services
  • Indigenous status
  • gender
  • run
  • disability

All aspects of this list – from a person’s gender identity to their career – are entangled with levels of privilege that determine how healthy they are likely to be.

Food, work and privileges

A person’s relationship with food is largely determined by their living conditions, and access to a variety of foods is a privilege. In Canada, 4.4 million people lived in households with an unsafe diet from 2017 to 2018. In indigenous households, 28.2 percent were food unsafe – two and a half times higher than the average for non-indigenous households.

Food insecurity in Canada

While 12.7 percent of households across Canada were affected by some food insecurity between 2017 and 2018, 57 percent of households in Nunavut said they were affected by food insecurity. Food security is directly related to a person’s health and wellbeing.

Where you live is important

Life outside the city center limits the choice of food. Jon Mills, community host at Precision Nutrition, explains, “If you have to shop in a large supermarket because you live in the country and can only afford to go there once a month, you are not going to buy produce; You’re buying frozen food that is normally processed – something that can ultimately lead to health complications. “

In indigenous peoples, land expropriation limits access to traditional food, and urban, rural and remote indigenous peoples suffer from inadequate access to affordable, healthy and nutritious food.

Where you work makes a difference

As Mills notes, “Your work determines your lifestyle – like eating – and is most powerful for low-income workers who have no choice over how they eat. They have to work with the circumstances that are given to them. “

People rushing between jobs encounter foods that best suit their situation – likely something that can be bought and eaten quickly. In this situation, it is a privilege to be able to sit down and have a home cooked meal.

To achieve wellness you have to practice work-life balance, but for many, practicing is impossible. In 2019, more than 1 million Canadians worked more than one job, an average of 45.9 hours per week.

Things like paid vacation, benefit packages, and flexible schedules – and just having one job – are tremendous privileges that many Canadians don’t have. People who have multiple part-time jobs do not have the same benefit packages as people with a full-time career.

Systemic health problems

Research shows that black, indigenous and colored people (BIPOC) are disproportionately affected by abuse in our health system.

According to many extensive research studies, patients who are discriminated against in health care settings are less likely to use health services, are more likely to forego critical medical tests and treatments, and are less willing to use prevention services. This can have life-threatening consequences.

Our definition of health can also vary depending on our privilege. Mills points out that what is often sold as health to the middle and upper class is often very destructive to the lower class because it portrays health as something that is out of reach – and the further you are from big cities are, the more and more inaccessible it becomes. Most people’s health could be improved with just a few small changes. “

Change is possible

Reading harrowing statistics is enough to make you feel helpless, but there are ways the privileged can use their position to make positive change.

Educate yourself

Find out more about the interfaces between the various systems of suppression at work in Canada. Understanding Canada’s true colonial history, from the residential school system to the ongoing separation of indigenous children from their families, will help nurture empathy in non-indigenous communities.

Think locally

Reach out to local organizations that fight food shortages, assist individuals with access to health care, and support marginalized people. Mills also recommends “buying local, seasonal produce, supporting local farmers and supporting programs that promote sustainable agriculture and reconstruction – especially those led by indigenous peoples.”

Community gardens advocate

All people in Canada should have access to affordable, healthy food. Pursuing and funding community gardens in remote communities across the country is a surefire way for those who don’t have access to health food stores or organic produce to get affordable access to healthy food.

Promote the redistribution of excess food

There are also programs across the country sourcing unsalable but edible food from farmers, grocers, and health food stores and donating it to programs that distribute food to people who are homeless or live in low-income households. Ensuring your local grocers attend such services will benefit the people in your community tremendously.

Support indigenous communities

The challenges that the indigenous peoples face persist. In addition to pressuring the government to raise household incomes above the poverty line, their communities need access to safe, affordable housing, affordable nutritious food, parental and early childhood education, and cultural activities.

Access to these resources will improve the social determinants of the community, which in turn will improve its general well-being. Participation in initiatives to support indigenous communities as well as initiatives to support land sovereignty will have positive long-term effects. The ability to practice traditional forms of harvesting, hunting and foraging helps remote communities address food shortages.

Realizing and understanding how privilege, health, and wellbeing are linked can feel overwhelming, but there is so much room for improvement. Only one person is required to make a change.

Would you like to learn more?

Many excellent books have been written that further illustrate the intersection of wellness and privilege. Here are just a few of them:

  • (Sourcebooks, 2020) by Layla F. Saad
  • (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2020) by Tiffany Jewell and Aurelia Durand
  • (Viking, 2017) by Keith Payne
  • (Milkweed Editions, 2015) by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • (Inkshares, 2017) by Mark Dowie

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