Coronavirus has altered the way many of us think about success, wealth and the “good life.” Rooted in production and generation of money, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been used to measure wealth since the middle of the Great Depression. It is also often used as a proxy for the wellbeing of a population, ignoring the fallacy of trickle-down economics and social determinants of health. For a moment, think of a world where we don’t use GDP to account of the wealth of a region, and reject it as the biggest indicator of the good life.
So, then, what makes the good life?
During the pandemic, we have seen instances of communities coming together, whom prior to COVID-19, would have never interacted. People are prioritizing spending more time with their families. Mason jars were in shortage because of the uptick in folks preserving their own food and food gardens seemed to spring up everywhere! People returned to the land for sustenance. Neighbours were checking on neighbours, delivering food to the vulnerable, and getting outside for some relief from staying home.
These activities all contribute to the wellbeing of the individual and of society at large. They are also all key components of Indigenous livelihoods. Imagine if British Columbia measured the wealth of the province based on holistic indicators, grounded in Indigenous ways of being. We could all live an Indigenous good life… One that is made “richer” with clean air, regenerative wild fisheries and forests, socially healthy families, the passing down of cultural values, excellent education, respect for traditions that values Elders and living Indigenous knowledge, a responsive health-care system and a natural environment that sustains our collective – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – wellbeing.
Watch Mark Podlasly discuss BCAFN’s recent report, “Centering First Nations Concepts of Wellbeing: Towards a GDP-Alternative in British Columbia” in the video below, and check out the full report here.