COAST SALISH TERRITORY (Vancouver) -- The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) in partnership with the Office of Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and Simon Fraser University (SFU), have been awarded a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Catalyst Grant for an exciting new project that will focus on Indigenous approaches to wellness.
The partners will use the $150,000 project grant to find innovative ways to incorporate and integrate Indigenous Knowledge (including oral narratives and storytelling) in the development of health and wellness indicators and in our health reporting processes.
Entitled "First Nations Health and Wellness Indicator Development in British Columbia: The Role of Indigenous Knowledge," the project will build on foundational work we have been doing with our communities and partners to develop a holistic set of indicators we can use to monitor and track the health and wellness of First Nations people.
Indigenous knowledge shared in oral histories, stories, music and art, including traditional, local and ecological knowledge, provides a wealth of information for measuring, describing and reporting on the health and wellness of First Nations.
To collect and store this essential knowledge, we will hold workshops and gatherings with Indigenous knowledge holders and community members across BC. This work will be based upon and reflect the FNHA's First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness -- a strengths-based, holistic perspective that recognizes the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of health.
The project team, led by FNHA Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Evan Adams, includes FNHA Deputy CMO Dr. Shannon McDonald; PHO Dr. Perry Kendall; FNHA Heart Health & Wellness Chair Dr. Jeff Reading; FNHA Director of Research, Knowledge, Exchange & Evaluation Dr. Amanda Ward; and UBC Health Researcher Dr. Annette Browne.
Dr. Evan Adams, First Nations Health Authority Chief Medical Officer: "It is now well known that there is a need for Indigenous-led research that honours and prioritizes Indigenous Ways of Knowing and the sources of our strength and resilience. We also believe that this research needs to be done in collaboration with the Indigenous community – nothing about us without us – because we are the ones who can inform our own wellness approaches and help bring healing to our own communities. This project will do exactly that."
Dr. Perry Kendall, BC Provincial Health Officer:
"It is critical that we develop measures that are meaningful to Indigenous communities and rooted in their traditions and cultures. I have heard the term 'decolonizing research' and I believe this is what we will be doing with our partners, in this project."
Dr. Jeff Reading, First Nations Health Authority Chair in Heart Health and Wellness at St. Paul's Hospital:
"Wellness indicators are necessary to assess progress being made toward achieving optimal health and wellness. Developing valid and reliable measures to track improvements to health will allow the FNHA to assess the impact of health investments for individuals, families, communities and Nations. We're excited about this project because it has the potential to shift Indigenous health research from the current negative practice of tracking measures of ill health and pathology toward a positive process of strengths-based measures of health and wellness."