Using Indigenous Knowledge For A Healthier Aboriginal Youth

Funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF Health Group Grant 2013)

The health of Aboriginal peoples in Canada ranks alarmingly low in a variety of indicators. These measures paint a bleak picture for Aboriginal youth, especially in rural and remote areas. Wide gaps in Aboriginal youth health research exist, particularly in regard to culturally-relevant research methodologies, capacity building, and policy formulation.

A new group grant by a team of our health researchers will give continuity to, and expand on, the work of IPHRC in the area of Aboriginal health, with an emphasis on Aboriginal youth health. The proposed research seeks to capitalize on existing work done by the IPHRC to develop culturally-appropriate, cost-effective health interventions among Aboriginal youth using Indigenous and arts-based methods.

The group grant, Iyiniw-Oskâtisak Pamihisowak: Using Indigenous Knowledge for a Healthier Aboriginal Youth, will receive $750,000 over three years from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF). It is a series of projects that will use everything from theatre improvisation to hip hop to empower youth and help communities address health disparities among Aboriginal young people in the province, particularly in rural and remote areas. The project is a partnership with the File Hills Qu’Appelle (FHQ) Tribal Council Health Services, Battleford Tribal Council Indian Health Services, Inc., and Northern Sport, Culture, and Recreation.

Research Team:

  •  Dr. Jo-Ann Episkenew, Team Leader (IPHRC/U of R)
  •  Dr. Linda Goulet (FNUC)
  •  Dr. Warren Linds (Concordia University)
  •  Dr. JoLee Blackbear Sasakamoose (U of R)
  •  Dr. Jennifer Poudrier (U of S)
  •  Dr. Carolyn Brooks (U of S)
  •  Dr. Charity Marsh (U of R)
  •  Dr. Charlotte Reading (UVic)
  •  Dr. Greg Marchildon (JSGS/U of R)
  •  Dr. Nuno Ribeiro (U of Illinois)


Project 1: Expanding the use of arts-based and Indigenous methods in Aboriginal youth health research to rural and remote populations

The purpose of this project is to expand current work being done on Aboriginal youth health by IPHRC researchers with Indigenous and arts-based research in two ways: a) methodologically, by framing the workshops as health interventions, that provide culturally-safe spaces wherein Aboriginal youth can critically reflect on wellness and acquire positive health-related traits; and b) geographically, by extending the IPHRC’s work beyond its current area of influence in Saskatchewan to rural and remote parts of the Province.

Study 1.1 – Continuing and improving arts-based Aborginal youth health research in the File Hills Qu’Appelle (FHQ) Tribal Council area (Episkenew, Goulet, Linds).
Study 1.2 – Expanding arts-based Aboriginal youth health research to remote Aboriginal communities in Northern Saskatchewan  (Goulet, Linds).
Study 1.3 – Expanding arts-based Aboriginal youth health research to rural Aboriginal communities in the region of North Battleford, Saskatchewan  (Brooks, Poudrier).

Project 2: Increasing health-related capacity among Aboriginal youth in rural and remote Saskatchewan

This project will increase Aboriginal health research capacity by training Aboriginal youth from the province (with an emphasis on rural and remote locations) as health leaders and researchers. A group of Aboriginal youth previously identified as potential health leaders by IPHRC researchers will receive training as “peer researchers” in regard to public and community health, quantitative and qualitative health methodologies, leadership, public administration and health policy, etc., with the ultimate goal of having those youth return to their communities as “health advocates” in order to make a positive impact in the communities’ overall health.
Study 2.1 – Increasing Aboriginal youth capacity in arts-based and Indigenous health research methodologies  (Blackbear, Brooks, Goulet, Poudrier).

Project 3: Investigating health disparities among Aboriginal youth through Indigenous and contemporary storytelling

The goal of this research is to engage Aboriginal youth in sharing their stories as they relate to the social determinants of health (physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual) that affect their lives and the lives of their communities. The objective is to gain an in-depth, holistic description of the social determinants of health from an Aboriginal youth perspective, using both Indigenous and contemporary storytelling. The goal is to create an opportunity for Aboriginal youth to share their story – the struggles, the triumphs and the lessons they have learned through a distinct lens fashioned by their families, communities, and cultures.
Study 3.1 – Storytellers and story gatherers: Using storytelling to investigate social determinants of health among Aboriginal youth (Reading, Episkenew).
Study 3.2 – Indigenous storytelling through hip hop culture: Engaging contemporary forms of cultural expression as a strategy for articulating, understanding, and addressing the health of Aboriginal youth communities (Marsh, Linds).

Related Project Links:

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