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An Exploration of the Physical Activity Experiences of Northern Aboriginal Youth: A Community-Based Participatory Research Project Open Access


Other title
Community-Based Participatory Research
Northern Aboriginal youth
Aboriginal Youth
Integrated Indigenous Ecological Model
Sharing Circles
Interpretive phenomenological analysis
Physical Activity
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Warner Hudson, Beth E
Supervisor and department
McHugh, Tara-Leigh (Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Sulz, Lauren (Education)
Spence, John (Physical Education and Recreation)
Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Master of Arts
Degree level
The purpose of this community-based participatory research was to explore the physical activity experiences of Northern Aboriginal youth. Drawing upon interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA; Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009) as a method of inquiry, 14 Aboriginal youth between the ages of 13-19 years participated in interviews and photovoice to generate data. The integrated indigenous-ecological model (Lavallée & Lévesque, 2013) was used as a theoretical framework, whereby the model supported the development of the interview guide and the interpretation of research findings. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim, and data were analyzed using the steps for IPA as described by Smith and Osborn (2003). Five themes that represent the physical activity experiences of Northern Aboriginal youth were identified: (a) encompassing meanings, (b) “makes me feel awesome”, (c) connected to the land, (d) better with friends and family, and (e) needs spaces. Findings suggest that Northern Aboriginal youth have a broad and encompassing definition of physical activity, and that participation in physical activity can have various holistic benefits. As well, youth described through their voices and photographs how on the land programming can support youth in feeling connected to their culture and identities. The voices of Northern Aboriginal youth have generally been overlooked in the physical activity literature, and this research makes a significant contribution by sharing their unique physical activity experiences.
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