Defining "Wellbeing"


Workshop participants and researchers worked collectively to produce the following definition of wellbeing for women in Happy Valley-Goose Bay:

"The wellbeing of women in the north depends on having the opportunity to enjoy and develop a healthy and sustainable relationship with the environment. Having the ability to value yourself – both where you have come from and where you are going – is also important. Wellbeing requires having a sense of safety and security, and having access to appropriate food, housing, resources, finances, and support services. Having a social support network, and being free from violent relationships are critical factors that affect wellbeing for all women. Food security; having or being able to learn coping mechanisms; being able to make choices about what’s best for you and your family; having access to information and resources; and social acceptance of diverse social identities as also critically important factors that affect women’s wellbeing. Having a space to meet to share and learn with other women is also important. Overall wellbeing is made up of: (1) physical; (2) emotional; (3) mental/intellectual; (4) spiritual; and (5) cultural wellbeing."



During the workshops in HV-GB, discussions about wellbeing were organized into 5 categories:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Mental/Intellectual
  • Cultural
  • Spiritual

Each category of wellbeing has survey questions associated with it, based on the main pieces of wellbeing that are listed below. The questions were partly developed by workshop participants, and partly by other members of the research team. We have been working on them by finding some questions from existing surveys (e.g., recommendations made in other research), and using them along with questions that we made up, and that workshop participants made up. Approximately 100 women in HV-GB will test the overall survey that will be used in the CVI to ask women questions about their wellbeing.


Our body is our vehicle to get us through life. Physical wellbeing is about strength, health, endurance, and feeling well. It is not about physical beauty or ability. Being physically well means being able to have a healthy lifestyle, including being able to have a healthy diet and body. Physical wellbeing also includes having access to a safe, affordable, appropriate place to live.

Physical wellbeing includes:

  • food security (access to healthy food, access to country food, enough food to feed you and your family)
  • physical safety (in home, in community)
  • clean drinking water
  • exercise and leisure/recreation (access to exercise facilities, time for exercise, activities to reduce stress)
  • safe, affordable, appropriate housing
  • access to the land (being able to ‘go off’)
  • sexual health services and information (health services in general)


Emotional wellbeing is about inner strength. It includes valuing yourself, being able to have control over your overall wellbeing, and having a healthy image of yourself. To be emotionally well, you have to have access to social support.

Emotional wellbeing includes:

  • family and friend relationships (Do you have relationships that you are satisfied with? Can you get support when you need it?)
  • positive support system (people to turn to for support and advice)
  • sense of purpose (feeling that your life is important/has value)
  • happiness of those around you (the wellbeing of your family and your community)
  • freedom of choice (in control of things that affect your life; able to make decisions for yourself)


Mental and intellectual wellbeing come from the knowledge and wisdom gained through family, education, elders and life experience. Mental and intellectual wellbeing mean being able to value the thoughts of people we trust, and trusting ourselves when we disagree with the people close to us. Mental wellbeing comes from being wise and capable of making life's decisions, or having someone we trust and we choose who can help us make life’s decisions. It also includes how we react to other people, and how we accept, and are accepted by, others.

Mental and intellectual wellbeing includes:

  • having the ability to meet your basic needs (do you worry about meeting your needs; the needs of your family?)
  • feeling that your voice matters (inclusion in decisions, being able to speak out about issues that are important to you)
  • relaxation time
  • opportunities for self-help (access to resources)
  • chance to learn new things/learn about your culture


Spiritual wellbeing lies within us, and comes from our connections to the land and to the people. It includes being aware of our spirituality, self-acceptance and respect for others, and being able to practice and experience the virtues of love (having compassion for others), joy (having a song in your heart), long suffering (being patient and perseverant), kindness (being thoughtful to others without seeking reward), faithfulness (a commitment to being true & loyal), gentleness (consideration for the feelings of others), self control, and energy (your hand to the world, or your aura).

Spiritual wellbeing includes:

  • freedom of thoughts, belief, and expression (connection to spiritual/greater power; having someone to share your thoughts and beliefs with)
  • access to land/nature
  • self-acceptance (willing to accept your own/traditional teachings and beliefs)
  • access to healthy natural environment
  • self-actualization (being able to reach your full potential)
  • connection to spiritual places


Labrador is very diverse in its cultures, and people are very proud of Labrador’s unique cultural identities. Labrador people are rooted in culture and – regardless of their particular cultural background – are passionate about the land, water and animals. Cultural wellbeing is about having the freedom to practice your own culture, and to belong to a cultural group. Cultural wellbeing helps us be who we are as individuals. Cultural wellbeing comes from being valued for the differences that define us and our beliefs, our history, and our roots. Cultural wellbeing adds to the greater good.

Cultural wellbeing includes:

  • opportunity to pass on traditions/have traditions passed on (access to teachings from your community; valued for cultural knowledge)
  • freedom to practice your own culture
  • acceptance of cultural differences
  • sense of belonging to a cultural group
  • access to traditional land