A Participatory Action Research Approach to Assessing Healing Programs for Aboriginal Women at Tamara’s House

University Partner: Dr. Patience Elabor-Idemudi, University of Saskatchewan - Department of Sociology
Community Partner: Karen Wood
Location: Tamara’s House Services for Sexual Abuse Survivors Inc., Saskatoon, SK

Violence against the person affects all aspects of being and has significant health impacts. Healing from childhood sexual abuse is a journey that many Aboriginal women in Saskatchewan face and many must leave their home community for a time to focus on healing. If they can do so in a welcoming, supportive environment, it is likely that they will be able to return to their home community as a stronger member of that community. This research will test whether or not Tamara’s House, a unique, Saskatoon-based facility dedicated to the healing of adult female survivors of childhood sexual abuse, is welcoming and effective in promoting healing for Aboriginal women, including those from rural and northern areas. Participatory circles with members from Aboriginal, service provider and service communities, will help establish the direction and focus of specific areas of research. The project will foster a network of service providers and develop tools that will assist them to support the survivors. Outcomes include better access to healing for Aboriginal women survivors, a supportive network for service providers in rural and northern areas and on-going assessment of Tamara’s House programs.

Analysis of Selected Water Quality Parameters at Big Island Lake First Nation

University Partner: Dr. Suzanne Nilson, First Nations University of Canada - Department of Science
Community Partner: Vince Hill
Location: Big Island Lake First Nation, Pierceland, SK

The Big Island Lake First Nation community will form a partnership and work with researchers and students at The First Nations University of Canada and the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) to investigate water quality issues. Water quality issues concern the Big Island Lake community because of the noticeable decline of water quality that has been observed by the Elders and others in the community over time. The research partners will investigate aspects of microbial ecology, selected water contaminants at sites at the Big Island Lake First Nation and determine possible links between selected microbial/water contaminants and cellular health specific to DNA, or genetic makeup of the cell. Research activity will also involve young Aboriginal student s and Elders in the community, in cooperation with the researchers at the First Nations University of Canada and the U of S. These activities also serve to address the critical need for capacity building for Aboriginal students in the field of environmental health science. Results showing relationships between selected aspects of microbial ecology, water contaminants and cellular health will highlight the importance of water quality to the health of community members and highlight the need to prevent water contamination on the reserve.

End-Of-Life Health Care Practices: Completing the Circle in Aboriginal and Conventional Medicines

University Partner: Dr. Angelina Baydala, University of Regina - Deptartment of Psychology
Community Partner: Roxanne Boekelder
Location: Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, Regina, SK

The proposed research seeks to generate greater understanding of the end-of-life healthcare practices of traditional Aboriginal and conventional Western medicines. Healthcare of the dying is an emerging health issue affecting Aboriginal peoples. It is vital that research into differing interpretations of end-of-life healthcare be done to eliminate existing disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal experiences in quality of end-of-life healthcare. We believe that the most appropriate method to understand beneficial healthcare practices for those who are dying and the families and communities who are grieving is a participatory narrative approach that involves all participants as research collaborators. Concluding statements and further research questions generated by the research participants will then be used as the basis for applying national research funding and for developing community health education workshops. Workshops for healthcare practitioners intend to improve the holistic health of Aboriginal people dying in hospital by demonstrating ways of incorporating and/or implementing traditional Aboriginal practices that promote well-being.

Exploring the Life of Urban Aboriginal Grandmothers Caring for Grandchildren: Laying the Groundwork

University Partner: Kerrie Strathy, University of Regina - Centre for Continuing Education.
Community Partner: Betty McKenna
Location: Grandmothers Community Action Partnership, Moose Jaw, SK

This project lays the groundwork for an extensive exploration of the strengths and health and social support challenges facing urban Aboriginal grandmothers raising grandchildren. It consists of the following activities: a) training Aboriginal undergraduate students as Research Assistants, b) conducting Talking Circles to clarify issues around which the research will be focused, c) using data gathered to refine the research framework, d) participating in the 2004 conference on Grandmothers and grand-mothering and e) preparing a comprehensive application for financial support for the intended research. This project will enable Aboriginal women to contribute valuable knowledge that may otherwise be lost.

This project will begin to identify needed enhancements to support systems. Results will be of particular interest to those concerned with planning health and education policies and programs serving Aboriginal women. It is hoped that this project will initiate a program of research concerning Grandmothers caring for grandchildren.

Housing and Health in our Community: Pasqua First Nation

University Partner: Dr. Doug Durst, University of Regina - Faculty of Social Work
Community Partner: Chief Elaine Chicoose
Location: Pasqua First Nation, Fort Qu’Appelle, SK

The Pasqua First Nation has initiated this project to explore the relationships between the housing and infrastructure conditions in our community and the health of residents of our community. Housing is one of the key social factors influencing health (both physical and mental health) of individuals. The project is intended to develop the framework for a larger research project which will, through a combination of community surveys and research, consider whether the poor housing conditions in our community and the lack of adequate infrastructure, specifically water and sewer services, may be contributing to poor health conditions for residents of our community.

Northern Traditional Resource Knowledge, Science and Research

University Partner: Dr. Lee Wilson; University of Saskatchewan - Department of Chemistry
Community Partner: Northern Intertribal Health Authority
Location: Prince Albert, SK

The Northern Traditional Resource Knowledge and Science Project is a research partnership with the Northern Intertribal Health Authority and the departments of Chemistry and Research Division, Family Medicine. The research allows the partners to conduct appropriate research into the integration of northern traditional resources knowledge and science for the purposes of developing curriculum for northern summer science camps for youth. This research will ultimately improve aboriginal health by creating practical tools that will build the capacity in aboriginal health science and motivate youth towards careers in science and health sciences.

An Investigation of Best Practices in Community- Based Youth Treatment

University Partner: Herman Michell, First Nations University of Canada
Community Partner: Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier
Location: Okanese First Nation, Balcarres, SK

The Okanese First Nation is intent on improving life opportunities for the youth of our community. A key component of this will be addressing the issue of alcohol and drug abuse and addictions. Through this development project, the community will investigate “best practices” in community-based youth treatment to provide the basis for developing a research proposal and ultimately a program to meet the specific needs of the Okanese First Nation. The program developed would be relevant to the needs of the surrounding First Nations.

Bridging the Gap Between Science and Community Action to Reduce Obesity in Aboriginal Peoples

University Partner: Dr. Karen Chad, University of Saskatchewan - College of Kinesiology
Community Partner: Arnette Weber-Beeds
Location: Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, Pelican Narrows, SK.

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in Canadians. Unlike half a century ago, obesity is now prevalent in many Aboriginal populations. It is estimated that the incidence of obesity in Aboriginal women in five times that of their non-Aboriginal counterparts, with prevalence rates indicating that up to 60-80% of adult Aboriginal women are obese. This increased prevalence of obesity has also affected the younger population, with 30% of youth between the ages of 5 and 19 considered obese. This highlights the urgent need for culturally sensitive long-term community-based programs aimed at reducing obesity and maintaining health body weights.

This proposal is aimed at bringing together university and community people to address the problem of obesity, with is subsequent effect on Type 2 diabetes, in the Aboriginal population. With co-participation of members from the Aboriginal communities, strategies will be developed that are in keeping with local perceptions of health needs and are managed with the support of local people to increase community involvement and awareness. The effects of physical activity and nutrition strategies on body weight in women of childbearing age and children will be studied within the context of four research modules: Community capacity building, socio-behavioural influences, biomedical, clinical and epidemiological outcomes during pregnancy, and development of childhood body composition. This proposal will emphasize knowledge sharing and partnerships, harmonizing health promotion and specific cultural groups’ values.

Enhancing Perinatal Health Surveillance Among Saskatchewan First Nations

University Partner: Dr. Janet Smylie, University of Ottawa - Department of Family Medicine
Community Partner: Alma Favel-King
Location: Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Saskatoon, SK

In order to improve the health of young First Nations families in Saskatchewan, First Nations Communities require health information systems that identify health needs; monitor health status; and evaluate programs. Such a health information system must be culturally relevant for First Nations communities. In addition it would be desirable if the system made use of modern health science innovations and methods where appropriate. In this project, the research team will work with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations to set up a health information system in the area of reproductive health. This system would be governed by the FSIN on behalf of First Nations in Saskatchewan. The research team will hold community meetings and interviews to ensure that the new information system reflects the cultural value systems of the First Nations communities who will use it.

Groundwater and Municipal Water Quality Sampling for Mistawasis IR#103 First Nation

University Partner: Dr. Bryan Schreiner, Saskatchewan Research Council
Community Partner: Gene Ouellette
Location: Mistawasis First Nation, Leask, SK

It is essential that the chemical composition and potential effects on human health of the groundwater and its long term use as a drinking water supply on First Nations Reserves be evaluated. The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) is proposing that in co-operation with the Mistawasis Reserve Band Council and the Indigenous Peoples Health Research Centre the existing information on the local water wells be collected and a groundwater sampling program be conducted on the reserve. SRC staff will mentor and train an Aboriginal student in sampling techniques and oversee data compilation and reporting of this investigation. This study will address the environmental health and disease prevention of First Nations peoples on the Mistawasis Reserve. The results of this study will be presented at the band office and well owners will also receive this information.

Integrated Mental Health Service Delivery in First Nations Communities

University Partner: Dr. Bonnie Jeffery, University of Regina, the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU), and the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC)
Community Partner: Angelique Haysom
Location: Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority, Prince Albert, SK

Mental health service delivery in northern Saskatchewan communities faces several challenges. First, there are a high percentage of mental health issues in northern Saskatchewan communities. Second the geographic isolation and remoteness of communities means accessibility is not always easy. Third, mental health services are offered by different agencies, in different ways and with different levels of follow-up. Fourth, traditional healing is not always a regular part of service delivery.This research study is designed to explore current service delivery in several diverse First Nation communities and to identify gaps in services. This information will then be used to develop an integrated model of mental health service delivery, one that blends the medical model with traditional community-based approaches to healing. In this project, service providers from several communities and researchers will learn together about how we can integrate traditional healing, improve mental health services and, ultimately, improve the health of northern communities.

Southern Saskatchewan/ Urban Aboriginal Health Coalition: Incorporating Aboriginal culture, healing and ways of knowing into health professional education and health service delivery in Saskatchewan

University Partner: Carrie Bourassa, First Nations University of Canada and the University of Saskatchewan - College of Nursing  (Regina Site)
Community Partner: Rick Kotowich
Location: Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, Regina, SK.

The Southern Saskatchewan/Urban Aboriginal Health Coalition, composed of researchers from the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC), Regina site; the University of Saskatchewan, College of Nursing, (Regina site); the Native Access of Nursing Program, Regina site; the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) Nursing Division, Regina site; and the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, in conjunction with key Aboriginal community partners, is developing a research proposal related to incorporating Aboriginal ways of knowing, healing, and culture into health professions education programs and health service delivery in Saskatchewan. The development of this research proposal will support capacity building in the academic research community by facilitating a better understanding of the diversity and common themes in the Aboriginal communities in Saskatchewan in relationship to health, healing, and culture and their relationship to health professions programs. It will build capacity within the health service delivery community in the same way. The development of the proposal will also develop research understanding and capacity within the Aboriginal community, as relationships will be developed that will continue to be nurtured in the future.