Toward the Renaissance of Aboriginal Spiritual Culture

Intellectual Advances in Alberta


  • Earle Waugh University of Alberta



Canadian aboriginal traditions, traditional law, traditional medicines, medical curriculum


Despite the still-lingering negative image of Aboriginal traditions, the fact is that significant advances have been made in Canada to lift the discussion to another level and to place Aboriginal spiritual perceptions and attitudes into dialogue with Canadian intellectual life. This movement is in tandem with a general sense of renewal and engagement within the Aboriginal community itself...the community itself in renaissance. We deal here with some recent initiatives in Alberta that demonstrate how Indigenous viewpoints are beginning to be addressed by the academy and wider public. Critical, too is the notion expressed by Aboriginal people that the rise of their traditions is a way of addressing pressing social and medical problems. This analysis focuses on two areas of discussion: Aboriginal law and the incorporation of traditional notions into health sciences and medicine. It specifically reviews the approach by traditionalist Wayne Roan in the Albertasource website, examines the health initiatives of the Centre for the Cross-Cultural Study of Health and Healing and initiatives undertaken by Sundance chief and healer, Clifford Cardinal in the curriculum in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. It also calls attention to the University of Calgary’s important initiative under the guidance of Peigan physician Dr. Lindsey Crowshoe. The renaissance continues with some of the advances made when traditional healers from across Canada gathered at the University to discuss the boundaries of sharing traditional knowledge with medical institutions. These elements can only be perceived as symbolic of a significantly wider movement.


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How to Cite

Waugh, E. (2012). Toward the Renaissance of Aboriginal Spiritual Culture: Intellectual Advances in Alberta. Religious Studies and Theology, 30(2), 135–153.