Aboriginal Women’s Health and Healing: Building Community and University Collaboration to Explore Aboriginal Women’s Experience of Breast Cancer and Survivorship

University Partner: Dr. Jennifer Poudrier, University of Saskatchewan - Department of Sociology
Community Partner: Lori Chartier
Location: Breast Health Centre, Saskatoon Health Region Saskatoon, SK

Very little is known about Aboriginal women’s experiences of breast cancer or survivorship. Our aim is to develop an understanding of the meaning of breast cancer for Aboriginal women. Important aspects of seeing and hearing Aboriginal women’s stories are empowerment (through story telling) and creativity (through photography). The first step of our project gave digital cameras to 12 Aboriginal women participants, who were asked to tell their stories through the pictures that they had taken, individually and in sharing circles (and to share in the decision about dissemination). Following the participants lead, the second step is to invite Aboriginal breast cancer survivors, interested stakeholders, community groups and University health researchers to a workshop to build capacity in the area of Aboriginal women’s experiences with breast cancer and to open dialogue about wellness issues. This workshop is intended to build a culturally appropriate research strategy for a tri-provincial proposal to be submitted to Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Aboriginal People’s Health. This proposed research will address cultural factors associated with cancer care, experience and survivorship among Aboriginal women and will bring awareness to the socio-cultural issues in developing wellness strategies.

Developing Research Capacity Within a Health and Social Service Interagency Team

University Partner: Dr. Caroline Tait, University of Saskatchewan - Deptartment of Native Studies
Community Partner: Delia Naytowhow
Location: Montreal Lake Cree Nation Montreal Lake, SK

This project seeks to document, analyze and report on the restructuring of an existing community interagency team of health and social service providers in the First Nation community of Montreal Lake, Saskatchewan. The goal of the project is to engage key community stakeholders (interagency team members) to better understand the role that the interagency team plays in the delivery of health care and social service programming. Integral to this is an examination of how the activities of the team can be enhanced through a restructuring process that revisits the goals and objectives of the team. A central aim will be the integration of self-determined community research governance into the work of the interagency team through the education of team members about community based research (CBR), and research governance, particularly the principles of ownership, control, access and possession (OCAP) of research data. As part of this process a Health Research Committee will be created as a subcommittee of the interagency team. A central goal of this project will be to build research capacity into the work of the interagency team and by doing so create a model that can be used by other First Nations communities interested in integrating community-based research into an interagency model.

Health and Water Quality: Working in Partnership with First Nations Communities in Canada

University Partner: Dr. Lalita Bharadwaj, University of Saskatchewan - College of Nursing
Community Partner: Vince Hill
Location: Prince Albert Grand Council; Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

The community members of Hatchet Lake, Red Earth and Sturgeon Lake First Nations have indicated that issues of water quality and supply are raising some health concerns in their communities. The communities would like to engage in an effective working partnership to develop a national proposal to conduct “Health and Water” research from a perspective that is meaningful to community needs and is conducted with Aboriginal perspectives and knowledge incorporated into the framework of the research methodology and activity.

Perceptions of Cancer in First Nations Communities: Developing Research Capacity through Partnership

University Partner: Dr. Rose Roberts, University of Saskatchewan - College of Nursing
Community Partner: Patrick Odnokon
Location: Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA), Prince Albert, SK.

Research shows that a greater numbers of First Nations people are diagnosed and dying from cancer than in years past. First Nations communities are small and each of these deaths is felt by everyone in the community. Although there are better treatments available and non First Nations people are living longer, this does not appear to be the case with First Nations people. We also know that smoking causes cancer, yet there are still a lot of First Nations people that continue to smoke. This research project will look at what First Nations people think about cancer, what they know about the disease, and how it is treated so that the First Nations communities can begin to look at how they can protect and prevent their members from getting cancer. We also want to find out how many First Nations people smoke, why they smoke and see if there are ways communities can help their members stop smoking and become healthier. This project will also look at other health behaviours in First Nations communities such as alcohol use, diet and physical activity. Results from this research project will expand and build on what First Nations communities know about the prevention, detection, screening, and treatment of cancer. In addition, results from this research will be used to improve access to detection and treatment services and to create culturally appropriate cancer prevention interventions in First Nations communities.

Taking Action, Reducing Risk…Engaging community in Youth-Led Research

University Partner: Dr. Shauneen Pete, First Nations University of Canada
Community Partner: Judy Ryan
Location: Meadow Lake Tribal Council, Meadow Lake, SK

The Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC) has envisioned this project for the nine member bands of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. Youth from each community will be provided with training in regards to research development, community facilitation and leadership development. The research that the youth will conduct will measure community commitment to youth led projects and initiatives. The outcome of the research in each community will measure community commitment and interest in the production of youth led projects. The youth will measure their personal development during this research using a variety of resources from Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement (CEYE). Each community will then be presented (by the youth) on how youth engagement in research creates health benefits for youth.

Building Capacity with Aboriginal Community-based Participatory Research for Health: A Cultural Approach to Building on Strengths

University Partner: Dr. Vivian R. Ramsden, University of Saskatchewan - College of Medicine
Community Partner: Clifford LaRocque
Location: Regina Métis Sports and Culture Inc., Regina, SK

Regina Métis Sports and Culture Inc. is an urban based Aboriginal community organization that facilitates the linking of its members through social and community activities. The organization has a membership in excess of 3,500 individuals, representing a broad cross-section of the Aboriginal (and Métis specific) population in Regina. The community and the research team intend to work together to design, articulate, and plan a research agenda relevant to the baseline and ongoing assessment of the social determinants of health with the community. The team will develop capacity in the areas of mutual and transformative learning, community-based participatory research methods, transformative action research and asset mapping as mechanisms for identifying strengths and opportunities for change. Through this process, the community and research team will work towards identification of the determinants of health relevant and specific to the strengths and opportunities for change within the community; con-jointly analyze and interpret the data; develop programs and policies that evolve from the data; and, subsequently translate the learning’s into knowledge for and with RMSC; thus, building capacity at the level of the members of RMSC, the research team and the academic institutions.

Developing Research Ethics and Protocol Through Capacity Building in Aboriginal Communities

University Partner: Dr. Diane Martz, University of Saskatchewan
Community Partner: Patrick Odnokon
Location: Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA), Prince Albert, SK

The purpose of this project is to a) build tools to develop research capacity in Aboriginal communities, b) develop a model of research ethics and protocol, c) and test this model with a community driven research project. Health research must be guided by high ethical standards and have a clear purpose and direction to contribute to an observable improvement in Aboriginal health. Aboriginal communities need to be empowered and engaged in the entire research process to ensure that they are building research capacity relevant to their communities. Creating an awareness and understanding about health research in communities will allow for partnerships in the research process and for communities to develop their own research ethics and protocol.

A research ethics and protocol strategy developed by participatory research methods will a) ensure that research with Aboriginal people incorporates the community perspective, b) allow for participation in decision making, c) enhance health research projects conducted are relevant to the community. Capacity development and transparent communication between the two institutions of thought are essential in attaining an ethical space for a valuable understanding between Aboriginal organizations/communities and university researchers. This project will promote the capacity for community driven health research and the creation of an ethical environment that supports community-based solutions to health. This model and protocol developed would be applicable and useful for future Aboriginal community-university collaborations to adopt and implement.

Marginalization of Indigenous Women: A Photovoice Project

University Partner: Brigette Krieg, First Nations University of Canada
Community Partner: Marlene Bear
Location: P.A. Women of the Earth, Inc., Prince Albert, SK

The social and economic disadvantage experienced by Indigenous women in Canada has finally received international attention with the recognition and documentation of the social injustice that characterizes their lived experience in Amnesty International’s paper “Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence against Indigenous Women in Canada”. These issues were examined through the use of Photovoice, a participatory action methodology that enables local people to actively participate in the research process, using cameras to record their views on their own communities. The experiences of marginalization of eight Aboriginal women were the focus of a Photovoice project in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The project: a) examined how a group of multiply marginalized Indigenous women make meaning of marginalization and how that meaning has informed their lives and communities, b) placed local people at the forefront of knowledge sharing and expertise and, c) re-examined the role of the expert in community issues. The end result is a Photovoice presentation that will inform policy makers on effects of marginalization, including violence, poverty and other health and social issues on Indigenous women in the community of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

Sokawaspine Miskisiko Wicihisowin – Diabetic Eye Health Screening Study

University Partner: Dr. W. Keith Hamilton, University of Saskatchewan - Department of Opthalmology
Community Partner: Ruth Bear
Location: Shoal Lake Health Centre, Pakwaw, SK

The proposed five-year epidemiological study on the incidence, severity and rate of the treatment of diabetic retinopathy in the First Nations Population has never been done in Canada. What differences, if any, may be established in the First Nations population compared with other existing longitudinal studies in the general population? What factors, if any, may contribute in the incidence and severity of diabetic eye disease in this population? The data gathered, from Red Earth and Shoal Lake communities, over this five-year study and subsequent analysis could provide guidelines for further allocations of resources (time and money) to extend telemedicine to all remote First Nations communities in Saskatchewan.