‘Contaminated’ Therapeutic Landscape: The Case of theAamjiwnaang First Nation in Ontario

  • Kevin Smith University of Western Ontario
  • Isaac Luginaah University of Western Ontario
  • Ada Lockridge Aamjiwnaang Environment Committee
Keywords: Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Therapeutic landscapes, Environmental Contamination, Mother Earth


This study examines the impact of Sarnia’s ‘Chemical Valley’ in Ontario, Canada, on the health and well-being of residents in Aamjiwnaang First Nation (pop=850). Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with residents (n=18) to explore how the complex connection between Aamjiwnaang First Nation residents and Mother Earth, may be changing due to environmental contamination. The results suggest that residents have increasingly heightened concerns that 'Mother Earth is sick' due to chronic contamination. While residents' perceptions of the therapeutic nature of Mother Earth remain strong, the ability to relate to Mother Earth in this contaminated landscape is changing with several consequences. In search of health and well-being, Aamjiwnaang residents are now engaged in what we refer to as therapeutic selectivity within a contaminated landscape. The findings call for policy intervention including the establishment of an indoor recreational facility where both children and adults can go for recreation, and for the cleaning of contamination from Talfourd Creek within the community.


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