Attaining Healthy Body Weights in an Urban Aboriginal High School Through Community- University Partnerships

University Partner: Dr. Karen Chad, University of Saskatchewan - College of Kinesiology
Community Partner: Sharon LaFlamme
Location: Joe Duquette High School, Saskatoon, SK

Obesity has become an increasing problem amongst Canadian Aboriginal youth. Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of other chronic diseases including Type-2 diabetes (T2D). Although T2D can be prevented through healthy eating and physical activity, less than 50% of diabetics can identify factors contributing to their condition. Since being overweight in adolescence predicts obesity in adulthood, interventions must be initiated during adolescence to combat the devastating effect of obesity and subsequent T2D development. Schools can provide the ideal intervention setting because they can coordinate a healthy environment, a comprehensive health education and awareness program, and youth nutrition and physical activity programs. This will in turn provide the youth with the skills, and support they need in order to adopt and maintain healthy eating and physical activity behaviours.

However, lifestyle factors such as healthy eating and physical activity cannot be addressed in isolation of cultural factors. Prior lifestyle intervention strategies targeted at the Aboriginal population have been ineffective due to a lack of understanding for cultural values and traditions. On the other hand, successful strategies indicate the community needs to be involved in a participatory manner and traditional cultures and values must be incorporated into the research project. This research program will use a participatory research approach and work alongside the highs school community to jointly design, implement, and evaluate a culturally appropriate healthy lifestyles program that addresses the growing problem of obesity and T2D development.

Building Health Equity Through Literacy, Language and Culture: The Village of La Loche

University Partner: Dr. Lewis Williams, University of Saskatchewan - College of Medicine
Community Partner: Georgina Jolibois Location: La Loche, SK

The proposed research will form a partnership of community and university researchers for the purpose of conceptualizing and developing a framework to support applied research that effectively mobilizes three interrelated health determinants (literacy, language and culture) as community resources for well-being. Indigenous centred approaches and perspectives will inform the project which focuses on Aboriginal development through a holistic approach to literacy. Objectives are: (1) increased self-determination and control over health for La Loche community members through community development activities and public policy advocacy aimed at increasing literacy levels; and (2) increased Indigenous applied research capacity in this area through theory and model building regarding the interrelationships between literacy, language and culture and the ways in which these might be mobilized in other Aboriginal communities for Indigenous development. The significance of this project is its potential to contribute to the health of La Loche communities and produce innovative approaches to health through holistic literacy paradigms.

Examination of Métis Addictions in the Prince Albert area of Saskatchewan

University Partner: Joyce Desjarlais, First Nations University of Canada - Community Development and Health Science
Community Partner: Sena Richmond
Location: Prince Albert Métis Addictions Council of Saskatchewan, Prince Albert, SK

The research team is composed of: front-line service providers from the Métis Addiction Council of Saskatchewan Inc. (MACSI) Prince Albert area; researchers from the First Nations University of Canada (Prince Albert and Saskatoon sites); researchers from McGill University, Montreal; and key Aboriginal community partners. The team is developing a research proposal related to the current demographics of Métis youth and related service delivery targeting Métis youth substance abuse in the Prince Albert area. The development of this research proposal will support capacity building in the area of community-based participatory research by facilitating a better understanding of the diversity and common themes related to substance abuse, and programming and education of Métis youth addictions.

Healing Connections: Aboriginal Children and Youth Arising Above the Gang

University Partner: Bernard Schissel, University of Saskatchewan - Department of Sociology
Community Partner: Karen Pinecheechoo
Location: White Buffalo Youth Lodge, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The project involves the White Buffalo Youth Lodge in Saskatoon; the Sociology Department at the University of Saskatchewan; the First Nations University of Canada; and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. The research involves children and youth of Aboriginal ancestry who are at risk of being in gangs in the city. In that the research is dedicated to understanding the emotional and physical health of young people in relation to gang affiliation, we will study the lived realities of children and youth with the intention of making certain that our research expresses their reality through their eyes. Our aim is to seek understanding, knowledge, and possible directions for healing for children and youth that are based on a general understanding of what constitutes a healthy community. The White Buffalo Youth Lodge is devoted to helping children and youth and this research, based primarily at White Buffalo, will have direct implications for understanding gang affiliation and for dealing with the threats that such affiliations may pose

Pakeeway House: Healthy Women, Healthy Families

University Partner: Dr. Caroline Tait, University of Saskatchewan - Deptartment of Women Studies.
Community Partner: Priscilla Joseph
Location: Muskoday First Nation, Muskoday, SK.

The Pakeeway proposal is to provide information and recommendations to PHBD about the addiction treatment services needs of First Nations adolescent girls and women in the province. Using the research findings to support submissions to various levels of government for infrastructure and operating funds for a multifaceted addiction treatment for First Nations adolescent girls, women and their children. The proposed research will generate information about the barriers and gaps in addiction referral, treatment and aftercare services for women, including services for pregnant women and women with children. It will also provide a contextual examination of substance abuse among First Nation adolescent girls and women in which the role of confounding variables such as gender, age and socioeconomic status are considered.

The Language of Diabetes in Three Cree Communities: Developing an Ethical Community-Based Research Framework

University Partner: Gail Laing; University of Saskatchewan, College of Nursing
Community Partner: Curtis Morin
Location: Agency Chiefs Tribal Council, Health Department, Spiritwood, SK

The preliminary phase of the language of diabetes project is a three-phase project incorporating a literature review, community consultations with Elders of three Saskatchewan First Nations, and the compilation of a solid evidence-based proposal for funding. The primary objective of the preliminary phase is to develop an ethical community-based research framework that will guide the health research practices of the language of diabetes project for which funds are being sought from the Canadian diabetes association. The preliminary phase is rooted in community involvement, consultation, and direction, and incorporates capacity building, which will serve as a health research knowledge transfer mechanism for the communities of the Agency Chiefs Tribal Council. The outcome of the preliminary phase will contribute to the current discourse on ethical research practices in aboriginal communities in Saskatchewan and may serve as a model for other communities.

Traditional Healing in a Contemporary Community: Sturgeon Lake

University Partner: Willie Ermine, First Nations University of Canada
Community Partner: Shirley Bighead
Location: Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Shellbrook, SK

The proposed research will form a partnership of community and university researchers for the purpose of conceptualizing and developing a research framework that works towards the identification and implementation of a model of community healing that incorporates Indigenous and Western knowledge systems. This proposal’s objective is to bring together a community’s consciousness and perspectives about health through a process that enables structural development of a health system driven by traditional health practices alongside Western bio-medical practices in contemporary environments. The process will involve the opportunity for the research partners to discuss and examine how a community can advance the notion of health through strategic development and practice of wellness supported by research. The significance of this project is its potential value in contributing to knowledge translation and transfer strategies for the overall health of Indigenous Peoples.

Bridging the Gap Between Environmental Contaminants and the Health of First Nations Communities

University Partner: Lalita Bharadwa, University of Saskatchewan - College of Medicine
Community Partner: Martin Paul/Alma Favel-King
Location: Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Regional Health Survey Project; Saskatoon, SK

First Nations people have long recognized that human health is intimately connected to the well being of the natural environment and the impact of environmental contamination has been a major human health issue for many First Nation Communities. To date it is not known what kind of effect environmental contaminants have on First Nations health. The links between environmental exposures and disease within native communities remains elusive. However, FSIN has recently completed a Regional Health Survey. We propose to start analyzing these RHS data and investigating potential environmental causes of reported incidences disease. This work will then lead to a review of regional concentrations and sampling of chemicals of concern. These data will then be used in a holistic human health risk assessment to assess the potential health risks to First Nations communities that may be associated with environmental contamination. Our specific goals are to a) map both First Nation Health survey data with geochemical data on a regional basis. This will provide for the first time a link between First Nation health and environmental levels of contamination specific for each individual First Nation Community b) generate two data bases: 1) Regional Health Outcomes specific for First Nations Communities and 2) a regional geochemical data base for First Nations Communities c) and to 3) finally assess risk based on community specific data.

Community-Based Identification of Environmental Issues Affecting the Health of the Chakastaypasin First Nation

University Partner: Dr. Mary Vetter, University of Regina - Department of Biology (Luther College)
Community Partner: Lyle Opoonechaw
Location: Chakastaypasin First Nation, Melfort, SK

The people of Chakastaypasin First Nation in central Saskatchewan have identified a number of environmental issues that threaten their health and well-being: environmental contamination and disruption related to forestry and mining, and changes in plant and animal distributions and vegetation communities related to climate change. This project will initiate a community-based investigation to identify the environmental issues(s) that should receive the highest priority for future research and prepare a major funding proposal for future research on the prioritized issues. The community-based investigation will focus on the documentation of traditional ecological knowledge of community members involved in traditional cultural activities, including fish and wildlife consumption and collection of traditional medicinal and food plants. A first workshop, to be held in spring 2004, will bring community members and scientists together to discuss research priorities. Semi-directive open-ended interviews of community members will be conducted by a First Nations student research assistant, trained in interview techniques, during summer 2004. A second workshop will be held in fall 2004 to set the priorities for future research. Maps will be used to focus the discussion and provide information on the locations and changes of traditional cultural activities; these will be compiled in a database. The workshops will be videotaped and the interviews recorded on audio tape; with permission of the participants. A summary CD and hard copy documents will be compiled for distribution to the community.

Exploring the Role of Nurses in Supporting Aboriginal Women Experiencing Family Violence

University Partner: Carrie LaVallie, First Nations University of Canada - Health Medicine
Community Partner: Sandy Pitzel
Location: Community Against Family Violence, Prince Albert, SK

The goal of the larger project is to engage in research using an ecological approach to develop Nursing curriculum on family violence in Indigenous communities. This stage of the project will create a process for curriculum development and conduct two literature reviews: curriculum development using participatory research and ecological research models. The results of the research will be disseminated to the community through a committee of the Community Against Violence organization, which will regularly evaluate the results. The team plans to apply for further funding to Health Canada’s Inter-professional Education for Collaborative Patient-Centered practice.

Health and Healing: Developing an Elders Forum with the Prince Albert Grand Council

University Partner: Willie Ermine; First Nations University of Canada - Community Development and Health Science
Community Partner: Ernest Sauve
Location: Prince Albert Grand Council, Prince Albert, SK

An Elders Forum, focussed on the issues of health and healing, would provide insights into Aboriginal traditions of health and its preservation. Such a Forum might be conceived as a “think tank,” a research forum, or indeed, a great library of knowledge and history of First Nations communities and their healing traditions. The proposed development of an Elders Forum is intended to build on and extend First Nations knowledge to a format designed to inform and enhance community strategies for health, community and university collaboration, and development of public policy. As such, the planning of an Elders Forum will require a close collaboration between community and university partners.

The Investigation of the Effects of Landfill Practices on Environmental Health in Selected First Nations Communities

University Partner: Lalita Bharadwaj, University of Saskatchewan - Institute of Agricultural Rural and Environmental Health
Community Partner: Laura Parenteau/Ceal Tournier
Location: Saskatoon Tribal Council, Health and Family Services, Saskatoon, SK

The potential impacts of waste disposal practices on human and environmental health in First Nations Communities needs to be identified. The majority of First Nations communities rely on local surface or ground water for their drinking water supplies, and the potential environmental and human health impact of waste disposal into landfill sites is potentially significant through the contamination of drinking water supplies.

We propose to build on our community-based participatory research program that is to investigate the historical and current waste disposal sites on First Nations by increasing the community participation and capacity building of Aboriginal students. The increased community participation will focus on getting Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Muskoday First Nation, Mistawasis First Nation, and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation more actively involved in research aimed at the identification and remediation of their water quality concerns. The increased capacity building will allow for us to provide more students a hands-on learning experience both at the laboratories, in First Nations University of Canada and the University of Saskatchewan and in the field, collecting samples.

The Sakitawak Métis Cart – Community Wellness Model

University Partner: Dr. Roger Maaka, University of Saskatchewan - Department of Native Studies
Community Partner: Don Favel
Location: Sakitawak Métis Nation, Ile A La Crosse, SK

Aboriginal traditional knowledge-based methodology will be applied in a community initiated and driven project at Ile-a-La-Crosse, Saskatchewan. The project will address pressing health and social issues as defined by the Sakitawak Métis Nation, with the goal to reduce negative outcomes in the community over the long term. Periodic measurement and observation of community selected factors over a five to ten year period will be used to inform the community as to the success of their efforts, as the community defines success. The ultimate goal of the project is to turn over negative trends and create an atmosphere of health, wealth and prosperity. Community driven and implemented programs to address health and economic conditions will increase the capacity for the community to thrive and grow in a positive environment.