Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 449–470 | Cite as

Culturally Relevant Physical Activity through Elders in Motion: Physical Activity Programming for Older Aboriginal Adults in the Northwest Territories, Canada

  • Lauren A. Brooks-CleatorEmail author
  • Audrey R. Giles


The 2011 National Household Survey found that the number of Aboriginal peoples in Canada aged 65 and over has increased by over 46 % since the 2006 Canadian Census (Statistics Canada 2011). Despite this dramatic increase in older Aboriginal peoples, there is a dearth of research concerning this cohort, especially regarding their engagement with physical activity. Using a case study methodology, this research sought to examine if the Northwest Territories (NWT) Recreation and Parks Association’s (NWTRPA) Elders in Motion (EIM) program is culturally relevant for the participants. For this research we used a postcolonial theoretical framework since many of the participants in EIM are Aboriginal older adults and have experienced, and continue to experience, the effects of colonialism. To address this aim we conducted nine semi-structured interviews with EIM program leaders and NWTRPA staff, and supplemented these with archival research of EIM program documents. The findings show that the NWTRPA has adapted many EIM program documents for the participants and thus attempts to be culturally relevant for the participants. There are, however, aspects of the program that are not culturally relevant and actually reinforce colonialism, specifically with the program content (i.e. activities that are a part of EIM). In light of these findings, recommendations are offered for the NWTRPA on how the EIM program can become more culturally relevant for its Aboriginal participants.


Aboriginal peoples Cultural relevance Older adults Physical activity 



We would like to thank the Elders in Motion program leaders and NWTRPA staff who participated in this research and shared their experiences with us. This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research GSM-130105, Northern Scientific Training Program, and the Aurora Research Institute.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human KineticsUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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